An interview with Bjorn Valdimarsson
We don’t often have a chance to interview people who inspire us and so imagine my excitement when I received the opportunity to have a chat with Bjorn — one of my favourite photographers.
Bjorn and I go through all things photography, from what got him started, to the equipment, photo subjects and a whole lot more.
Let’s dig right in.
Hi Bjorn, thanks for accepting this invitation to do an interview.
Not a problem at all. My pleasure really.
So let’s start off with — what got you into photography?
Well, I first came interested in photography almost thirty years ago when I started to follow some young Icelandic photographers that had a new and different approach in their work. Then I began to look at other photographers work and slowly to make my own photos. Sometimes I’ve been shooting a lot, sometimes less.
How long have you been a photographer?
Well, I´m not sure if I can call myself a photographer. At least, I have a full-time job doing something else. Perhaps I am rather a photo enthusiastic but of course, these things are always debatable.
Over the last few years, I have been very active and enjoying photography more than ever. I shoot every week and many evenings I try to do some processing or reprocessing. Work on my website, my Flickr or do something connected to photography. I also spend time on looking at other people’s websites and photo books.
Good stuff. I guess it’s easier to check out other people’s work these days on the net.
Did you take any formal education to become a photographer?
No. I have learned all I know by talking to and learning from photographers, reading magazines and books, looking at all kind of photos and visiting countless exhibitions and by going to courses.
Today it is easier to learn from the internet, Youtube etc. than it was two decades ago. I also enjoy to watch movies and learn from them.
So what type of camera do you use?
Today I use Fuji XE-2 with 18–55 mm lens and 27 mm lens. I used to shoot on Rolleiflex but now I only use it once or twice a year. I really like the Fuji. It is small, so I can travel with it easily and the quality of the photos from it is outstanding.
I’m an iPhone only kind of guy and I know a lot of people have encouraged me to buy proper gear. Perhaps one day.
And what is your process for choosing subjects?
I only shoot what I like. Ageing things, the land, roads, winter weather and the people of Siglufjörður — past and present, to name some subjects. I do not sit down and think; what’s next? Many of these projects somehow come to me and a big part of them are ongoing.
I don’t think I can ever stop shooting abandoned farms or my friends in the Siglufjörður to name some.
Do you do any post editing? If so what do you do?
I do a lot of post editing and I can spend a long time on one photo. I think the art is really to try to let the people that look at my photos get the feeling or mood that I felt, but still without noticing or thinking of the processing.
I think the best processing is when you hardly noticed what was done, but still get the wow feeling of the place or moment. I never add or remove things in my photos. I only do colour adjustments, contrast, exposure, darkening of edges etc.
Of course, in B&W things are different. With the black and white we go someway out of the real world into another, often magical place. I really love B&W but I find the monochrome processing even more difficult than the colour work.
Funny you said that as a lot of people automatically assume that B&W is easier.
What places would you really want to capture?
I think that after people in their own environment, I enjoy mostly the ageing structures and objects that are slowly becoming a part of nature again, and the magical winter mood here in North Iceland.
And who inspires you?
It is hard to name some favourite photographers but I can still say that I love looking at the work of Ragnar Axelsson, Alec Soth, Jonathan Harris and Sebasto Salgado.
Does music inspire you? If so, how does it influence your photos?
Music is a very big part of my photography. I love driving in my Toyota Hilux on the remote country roads here with some music on while look for photo subjects. I never go on a photo tour without Miles Davis’ In a Silent Way and Kind of Blue. I always take few CDs with my on these tours but I never leave these out.
I do also listen a lot to music while processing. It depends on the mood I am in what kind of music I choose, but usually, I listen to some of the softer jazz music or piano or cello sonatas.
Bach’s Well-Tempered Clavier is perhaps my fave processing music. Bob Dylan, The Beatles, Miles Davis, Beethoven and Bach are my favourite musicians.
And to wrap up, what gets you up in the morning?
The day ahead and my morning coffee :)
A B O U T
I personally have 3 fave photographers right of the top of my head and Bjorn is one of them. I would like to thank Bjorn for giving us the opportunity to do this interview. Check out Bjorn’s jaw-dropping work on his website located here.
I’ll be reaching out to my other 2 favourites shortly (fingers crossed).
I know that the other guys from Collective Network have their own cherished photographers too. Perhaps one day they’ll get to share their own stories right here too.