We have all been missing genuine connection in this very difficult year. The Main Gallery’s Meet
the Artist Interview Series was born in the hardship of that absence. We have missed you, our
friends, neighbors, colleagues and patrons, and missed the magic of seeing art morph into a
new form based on your reaction to what you see. No digital image can take the place of seeing
original art in person: the size, the texture, the movement… the tiny, crafted details that mark
the artist’s journey of choices through the piece.
Until we have the opportunity to see you in person, we thought you might like to know a little bit
more about the unique and talented group of artists that make up The Main Gallery. It isn’t a
substitute for our genuine interest in you and the connections that make us thrive, but we hope it
helps give you a bit of a sense of the person behind the art. Please let us know your thoughts
on this series, and what you’d like to hear more about. Click here for contact options:
We’d love to hear from you!
Q: What did you do before you decided to pursue a creative path?
Professionally I have worked most of my time in customer service positions ranging from retail, wholesale to online services. I've been a part of small companies that built online services and sales from the ground up long before Amazon or Google entered the scene. During our time in Ireland I also worked for a larger multinational company, and learned a lot about living in a country that is not your home country and working with people from all over the world.
Before moving to the US we also spent two years in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Q: When did you first realize you wanted to become an artist? When would you say you actually began to identify as an artist, and what prompted that?
Visual art was never a part of my life until I picked up a camera in 2008. My parents focused my artistic education more on musical talents - for a short time I actually considered pursuing a career as a musician. Initially my objective was to get better pictures of our travels. At first I spent my time learning how a camera works and what could be done with it - I tried all sorts of styles just to figure out what I might like. A turning point was a meeting with an artist friend. She looked at my pictures and said "Oh, you're one of us." It took a few years for me to understand what she meant. Apparently even with the very raw and unrefined pictures I made at the time she was able to see an artistic expression; that I wasn't using the camera to document the world around me, but to interpret it. It took a lot more time with specialized classes and workshops for me to get to a point where being an artist became a reality.
Q: Have any particular artists influenced your style?
I'll just mention a few names of photographers I found to be very influential for me. In two cases I have attended their workshops to learn from them directly.
Guy Tal - in my view one of the best landscape photographers today. Both his scenic views and intimate detail photographs are carefully composed masterpieces that are always personal.
Olivier du Tre - his work was my first experience with minimalist photography. I learned from him how to create successful photographs with just a very few elements and lines.
Joel Tjintjelaar - a master of architectural minimalist photography. I admire his ability to reduce a composition to exactly the point where it becomes most meaningful. Also his processing skills are truly exceptional.
Hengki Koentjoro - who works mostly in black&white and has a very personal and recognizable style. He is also a scuba diver and is able to create minimalist photographs from underwater photography. Since I enjoy diving as well it is one of my long term goals to develop the skills to create my own work in that element.
Behind the scenes - a few photographs explained
Beauty begins the moment you decide to be yourself
This is from Death Valley, at early morning sunrise. I spent a lot of time working to accentuate the sunlight rising over the tips of the sand dunes in order to give it a warm, almost fiery impression. I think it sits nicely between abstraction and realism.
Life is simple, just add water
Lake Tahoe in winter - this is a long exposure with intentional camera movement to add some dynamics and also mystery. It also helped to simplify and streamline the uneven cloud cover over the lake and, by doing so, adding to the movement in the image and also directing the viewer's eyes towards the horizon.
The Blue Planet Aquarium
The architecture already is very modern and minimalist, my task as a photographer is to emphasize it even more by making sure that there are no distractions in the frame and by selecting a composition which makes good use of the organic lines of the structures.
Presenting it in soft grey tones gives the final touch to this futuristic photograph.
Every time I'm on the road my wife asks me to send her a selfie every day. So here are a few of them, I'll also give you the locations (from top left to bottom right):
- The plains outside of Calgary, Alberta in winter - Ubehebe Crater, Death Valley
- Mono Lake, CA
- International Car Forest (does anyone know where that is?)
This picture was taken during a workshop in Death Valley, it's the early morning near the Ubehebe Crater. I often use it to describe how I take/make my pictures.
Here is how:
"Find a place to take in the scenery - breathe - stop thinking, start feeling - breathe again - look for something that speaks to you, don't answer, just listen. Repeat as often as you like. Occasionally a good picture will follow."
Please also take note where I am and where the camera is.
For more information about Bjorn and his artwork, please visit Bjorn Kleemann