“Even though my work nowadays visually is more related to painting than traditional photography it is still in terms of source material 100% photographic, and I try to incorporate that unique characteristic of photography into my work.”
“For me, surrealism is about trying to explain something abstract like a feeling or a thought, expressing the subconscious with a picture. I use my own inner life, thoughts and feelings as seeds to my pictures. In that sense the work is very personal, almost like a visual diary.
Despite this subjectiveness in the process I hope that the work can engage the viewer in her or his own terms. I want the viewers to produce their own questions and answers when looking at the pictures, my own interpretations are really irrelevant in this context.”
Interview with Tommy Ingberg
Tommy, why did you become a photographer? And what does photography mean to you?
I’ve been fascinated with photography since I was a child, so it’s hard for me to pinpoint exactly what it was that first attracted me to it. The first memory I have related to photography is from when I was maybe five years old and was taking pictures at home with a red, plastic compact camera. I still vividly remember a strong feeling of excitement and thrill. Another strong memory is when I in my teens got my first “real” camera, a Praktica with two lenses.
“It’s so simple; just press the button to take a picture and start sharing how you view the world.”
My best friend and I were out photographing almost all of our free time in a blur of unrestrained creative curiosity. I especially remember one night we spend “light painting”; creating patterns with flashlights and long exposure times. I learned a lot about the craft those first years with the Praktica. It had no autofocus and the metering did not work, so I had to use my friends camera to measure the light and adjust my settings accordingly. There was a lot of experimenting resulting in very mixed results.
The people at the photo lab developing roll after roll of our experiments must have wondered what we were doing. Since then I’ve been more or less always photographing. There is something about it that’s very special. It’s so simple; just press the button to take a picture and start sharing how you view the world, and yet so very complex; the camera enables unlimited ways of creative expression and photography is such a vast and diversified form of art.
A photographer has many “tools” at hand to bring across his message: lenses, lighting, framing, color treatment etc. Can you elaborate a little bit on the techniques you used for this particular project in order to link form and content?
Well, since I work with photo montages, the techniques I use to make my montages look believable are the most important. This includes lighting and backgrounds when shooting in studio as well as the work done in Photoshop. On a more aesthetic level I work a lot with light and tonality to make the pictures aesthetically pleasing.
Which photographer has inspired you most?
“There is something about great photography that evokes an emotional response in me that I don’t get from other types of visual art.”
During my years of photographing and trying to find my own voice I have tried almost every kind of photography you can think of, and I’ve been influenced by many different photographers working in widely different fields of photography. To name I few off the top of my head: Henri Cartier-Bresson, Diane Arbus, David LaChapelle and Anton Corbijn.
But there are really too many to name, I have consumed a lot of photography trough the years. What inspires me about all these great photographers is their ability to capture an expression. It’s kind of a vague term, but I don’t know how to put it in words, there is something about great photography that evokes an emotional response in me that I don’t get from other types of visual art.
Even though my work nowadays visually is more related to painting than traditional photography it is still in terms of source material 100% photographic, and I try to incorporate that unique characteristic of photography into my work.
What’s your favorite inspirational quote about photography?
Henri Cartier-Bresson once said:
“Your first 10,000 photographs are your worst.”
What kind of camera and equipment do you use?
I use a Canon EOS 7D and a EOS 5D together with a couple of L-lenses, mostly the 24-70/2.8 . In studio I use a pair of Elinchrom flash units.
What’s your favorite website about photography?
It would have to be the Swedish site fotosidan.se, it’s a really well thought out site with a mature and diverse community for all kinds of photographic work.
What book about photography would you recommend?
I love photography and art in all its forms and I find it very interesting and inspiring to read about and look at expressions widely different from what I do. The last book I looked in that I found very interesting in this regard was “Dalmatians and other Pelicans” by Swedish wild life photographer Brutus Östling.
Which advice would you give someone who wants to get started with photography?
Learning, developing and becoming good at something takes a lot of time, hard work and sacrifices, but if it’s something you love, it’s worth it. To connect back to the Cartier-Bresson quote; “Your first 10,000 photographs are your worst”. I try to keep that in mind.
More about Tommy Ingberg