Could you maybe tell us a little bit about yourself: who are you, where do you come from, where you are now?
I am a 53-year-old photographer, living in central Sweden at the moment. I have always been interested in photography. Since my father was a journalist and photographer, I grew up with a darkroom in our house. But my interest and me acting on it really took off for me when the iPhone first came out. The camera became so accessible and quick and easy to use!
Some of my early work is taken with an iPhone. After I discovered however that so many people liked my work and my prints started to sell, I used my DSLR-camera more and more.
My Instagram feed and the number of followers increased rapidly after that Instagram chose me as a suggested user, all the way back in the early days of Instagram in 2015. Many thousands of followers came to me. That really was such an incredible, happy surprise!
My photos have been displayed around the world at some of the largest photo events in the world, they have been exhibited in New York, Los Angeles, Stockholm, and Hong Kong. I am represented at the Swedish Photography Museum and I sell my work through a carefully selected network of retailers around the globe. In the last couple of years, I have started to explore the aerial perspective using a drone, that is so much fun!
What do you do for a living and how does it relate to your photography?
I am working full-time as an IT-manager, I use to say that my work triggers the half of my brain that is best for logical thinking, structure, and processes, administration, etc. and when it comes to my photos, I use the other creative and artistic part. I often have my camera with me on business trips, you never know when a good image might appear! Being a minimalist/architectural photographer, I find myself to be mostly inspired by urban environments and less by nature.
Thanks for the replies! How great to read some more about you. And wow, that is very impressive. Am I correct when I say that, apart from your talented eye, of course, you were kind of in the right place at the right time, in “the early days of Instagram” to be chosen as a follow-suggestion? Or how do you explain the huge success of your photographs?
Yes, I guess I really was lucky being in the right place at the right time when it came to Instagram highlighting my work. That was such a cool feeling! I also remember how good it felt when I discovered that so many people like my minimalistic and clean style of photography, so it was an easy decision back then to keep developing my minimalistic style.
Which part of the work do you enjoy the most? The taking of the image, the editing or ….?
I enjoy both parts equally as much! When I take a photo, I already have the end result in my mind. I just love that feeling of knowing that the shot I just took will end up as a great, edited picture. And then, while I’m busy editing, it is fun to try to get it as close as possible to that original idea. It can be frustrating sometimes as well, but mostly it’s fun!
Do people often reach out to you with comments on your work or requests for collaborations?
Yes, people often comment and react on my work, from a simple thumbs up to a lot of detailed questions about my works, the camera gear I use, my editing software, etc. I actually really appreciate it when this happens, and I answer all the questions I get. I also receive quite a lot of requests for collaborations, but I do just a few per year. I avoided doing commercial collaborations before, but I am currently in the process of signing up for some interesting ones, so stay tuned…
Why did you avoid commercial collaborations before? Was it an ethical thing for you or other reasons?
Yes, there were some ethical obstacles to me. If I do a commercial collaboration, it has to be a company and a product that I personally believe in.
If there was no limit in time and place, who would you really love to collaborate with?
Oh, what an interesting question! Hmm… I would say the minimalist painter Mark Rothko and also Piet Mondrain. Now you really kickstarted my imagination!
And who are some of your biggest examples and sources of inspiration?
I got a lot of inspiration from art, like the painters I mentioned above for example. But modern photographers inspire me as well, like Scarlett Hooft Graafland.
On Instagram, which really is my major platform, I follow several very inspiring photographers from all over the world, like Paul Brons (@paulbrons), Sebastian Weiss (@le_blanc), Minh T (@thismintymoment) and Dirk Bagger (@macenzo). I definitely recommend to check out their feed.
What was the biggest lesson you learned throughout the years? Or do you have any tips for beginning or aspiring Instagram-artists?
I would say that whatever I do, has to be fun. My work should be driven by a feeling of joy in order to keep my creativity going. Also, I really had to learn to be patient. One day, your work will actually be discovered and get the attention it deserves. You need to keep believing that it is possible!
For aspiring Instagram-artists, I would say that being and staying active, is key. Use the proper hashtags, keep up the dialogue with your followers, look for feeds or art hubs of various kinds that feature similar stuff to yours and hope for them feature your work!
How does your family react to your Instagram-fame and work? Do you sometimes ask them to help you out? Are you passing on the interest to your kids?
They think it’s fun and they always encourage me! They have all been helping me with taking my photos. Sometimes I would need a person walking in front of a wall or just a waving hand or something like that. Both my kids like to borrow my camera gear. One of them for making make-up tutorials and the other one for taking pictures of nature. Whether or not that shows a huge interest in photography, they at least like to use my stuff, haha…
That does sound like a very involved family! It must be fun to work together on some projects.
Okay, Marcus, we have come to the end of this interview. Anything else you would like to share with us? Feel free!
I really like what you guys do, I am glad to be part of your team of photographers worldwide, thank you. And to all the ones out there having a smartphone, no more complicated gear is needed to get started as a photographer, so grab your phone and learn how the camera app works, and get out shooting!