Sitting down with our newest Company member, we’ve had a chance to pick Henrik’s brain about all kinds of things –from living in New York to the best lighting to shoot in, we’ve asked all kinds of questions. Come along with us on an insightful Q&A with Henrik Olund.
RR&Co.: Your work is so unique. The way you capture images —the lighting that you use —is so totally your own style. What is your favorite light to work with?
HO: My favorite light, like many photographers, is in the morning and evening. I don’t like to get up early, but I will wake at 3am if it’ll give me a chance of good light. I also like speckled light and light reflected from water and shiny surfaces. In any urban setting, you can get wonderful “cross lighting” with the reflections coming from windows, high and low.
Artificial lighting has its own magic. Every light-source, whether it be incandescent, fluorescent or sodium vapor, has its own quality. Interesting things happen when you mix these different light-sources or when you add strobe lighting. I general, like light with a personality. I know how to do soft lighting well, but shadows and highlights —they bring life to a scene.
RR&Co.: What do you focus on, if anything, as you begin a project?
HO: When I approach a shoot, the scene comes first. Furniture can be moved, but it takes time. Buildings generally don’t move. So, you choose your scene, and you work with the light it has.
If the light gets in your way, you block it and set up your own light. In a perfect world, the light is great and does not need any help, but mostly, you need to tweak it.
Your gut reaction to a scene is the most important. Perfect lighting means nothing if the scene has no interest or the subject conveys no life.
RR&Co.: So, would you say that instinct is an important factor in your work?
HO: Certainly. Instinct makes you choose a scene or a person over another, but technique guides you in that choice. Any scene can be made beautiful, given the right amount time and equipment.
RR&Co.: You began your career as Annie Leibovitz’s assistant. Most photographers I know would die for that position; can you tell us about your experience working with her?
HO: Working with Annie was both fantastic and challenging. She was relentless in her drive to make every image great. She didn’t allow for anyone to be half-present. Her natural and learned ability to find the best image given the circumstances was inspiring. She KNOWS photography. I did not always agree with her aesthetic choices, but I always respected them.
She always prepares, by reading, thinking and researching. This is a great way to get in the mode of the shoot, and I try to emulate it.
RR&Co.: That makes so much sense, really. Tell us more of what you learned from her!
HO: Her productions are notoriously big and expensive, but the techniques I learned with her I’ve tried to translate into smaller, more cost-effective ways. I learned to appreciate and produce her specific brand of production, with it’s emphasis on good traditional lighting in interesting settings with time-proven props and styling.
RR&Co.: So, now that you’re out of the “Big Apple” and living in Dallas, how do you think the two compare?
HO: Dallas is a calmly efficient place. It’s relaxing and gives you room to breathe. People are nice and polite, even happy. It’s the perfect home-base. NY is energetic, inspiring and exhausting. Love to go, love to leave. As a combination, it’s perfect.
RR&Co.: Would you say you’re happy with the balance of living and working in Dallas, and working in NYC?
HO: Commuting to NYC beats living there by a mile. When I travel, I travel alone, with as little gear as possible(which is not always that little), and it means I can focus fully on the assignment at hand, without the distractions of regular life. The commute is easy. Any trip half day or less I consider easy. Flying in and out of DFW is a dream. I always loved traveling, even the actual action of traveling. It gives you time to think, read and catch up. It’s my time.
RR&Co.: I can certainly empathize with that statement! Let’s wrap up this Q&A with a final question: what are your are some of your favorite shoots lately?
HO: Keeneland, Heliflite and Wusthof have all been some of my recent favorites.
I was hired because the tone of my work suited the project, hence I was just asked to do what I naturally do. I’m equally comfortable whether I get a very clear direction from the art directors, or a more open structure where I’m let loose to capture the “essence” of a place. Both ways of working appeals to different parts of me.
RR&Co.: Thank you so much, Henrik, for your thorough answers. We look forward to doing this again!
HO: Thank you, too! I hope I could answer everything well enough.
See full post here: reneerhyner.com/node-feed2013-01-30.