Wednesday, 16 September 2009

3.3 / Shooting with his eyes / Kjetil Hasselgård

What: Photographer
Where: Oslo, Norway
Website: Kjetil Hasselgård

Kjetil Hasselgård
From a little town in Norway…
I grew up in the south of Norway and started doing photography when I was about 16. I had a little trouble figuring out what I wanted to do with my life when I was that age, like many of us, and quite accidentally started doing more creative classes at school and ended up taking photography. I then went on to Oslo Photo Art School. I felt that when I started photography it was something that I was good at. It's something that I get a lot out of too. It's like a drug. I never get tired of it.

My abilities are well suited to photography. I have an interest in the artistic/creative side of life and I am good at understanding the technical side of things. Photography requires both the technical and the creative, which makes it a good subject for me.
Learning from experience…
When I finished school I started working for a professional photographer. That's where I learned a lot of what I know now and the different photographic techniques. That photographer was very into technical photography and combined technique with artistic flair, which was very nice.

For fun…
I try to do some fun things on the side. I started teaching photography at a private school here in Oslo a while ago – everything from technical to more artistic photography. I do many things but my base income comes from doing photography. I teach different classes and am a creative photographer for enjoyment. I'm getting into doing more side projects. They're kind of in my head right now but I'm planning to save up a bit of money and do them soon.

Boy portrait
Pros and cons…
The thing about Norway that is interesting and difficult at the same time is that the photography industry here doesn't work like it does in other parts of the world. In London or New York, for instance, and most of those cities there are many agencies that work with photographers. In Norway, we have only one big photography agency.

When it comes to being a freelancer, I really like the freedom but it can also be a negative thing regarding when you get work and when you get paid. I like it when I am able to choose what work I do and who I want to work with. I like that the work varies a lot and I'm not doing the same thing all the time. But there also times when I have to do jobs that I don't want to do . When you're a freelancer, sometimes you have to work with people you don't want to work with because you need an income and you have to pay the rent.

It always varies a lot. When I have a steady stream of work I feel very confident. Recently with the financial crisis or when work is slow, it's harder to feel confident. Everyone has a tiny bit of control over how confident they feel but sometimes it really depends on how things are going at a specific moment.

As a kid…
I guess I was just doing what most kids do when they're younger. But I really started to enjoy myself when I started doing things that involved creativity. There was a process of trying things out and discovering what I liked. I wasn't one of those people who did creative things all their lives.

My father worked as a painter and painted pictures. I think that might have inspired me to do something more creative. When I was about ten I did a picture that my dad sold through one of his exhibitions. It was bought by a sweet, old woman. That was really nice.

Man with sunglasses
Knowing how…
I've learnt to structure things and learnt creative ways of working. I've learnt to spend time on improving my techniques to get the feeling that I am trying to convey across in the work that I do. I spend a lot of time working on honing my skills in Photoshop. I also look at what other people are doing and I try to figure out how they do it.

Full Tribesman portrait
When you're a photographer you're always taking pictures with your eyes, atleast it's like that for me. Whenever I travel anywhere it's like I have a camera in my head and I'm always taking shots and storing images of things I like. Sometimes it's a little intense (when you're always studying light) but it helps me to find the right locations for work and for my side projects.
Ideas flowing…
I feel inspired all the time. There are so many ways you can work with photography. If I want to work with a fashion series I can and if I want to just shoot a landscape I can. I can make my life as varied as I'd like it to be. I can do portraits, travel around and just watch people.

If I get tired of walking around with my camera I think it's also important to walk around without my camera. It's important to allow myself to explore different ways of thinking and just see things. I live in Drammen just outside of Oslo and I spend a lot of my time just walking my dog outside in the woods nearby. I spend a lot of time travelling between Drammen and Oslo too and therefore spend a lot of time enjoying the different sights and scenery. When I'm in Oslo I get inspired by looking at people and I enjoy walking around in the town centre, while in Drammen I am closer to nature.

Tribesman portrait
Hot off the press…
I just finished a catalogue for a small brand in Oslo run by a local designer. We did the shoot on Trollstigen, a road that goes up the mountain in Romsdal. We shot out there for two days, which was great.

Fashion shoot

Since I started doing more fashion, it's nice to do fashion photography that is a little different. The brand makes clothes for women that are not teenagers but are more like 28+. It's very interesting. The emphasis is on trying to show the form and the textures of the clothing. A lot of fashion is very cool and sometimes (as a photographer) you're not able to fit everything into the picture. The challenge is to find a balance and produce something that looks cool but also shows off the clothes and their functionality. The brand I worked with in Trollstigen wanted to capture what we call in Norway 'the national romantic view' that many famous painters and artists have done. Combining the scenery with the clothes was interesting.

Fashion shoot
Favourite photography…
I've been interested in fashion photography for a long time. Before I started doing it, I'd wanted to do it but wasn't really sure about it. When I worked with a fashion photographer I didn't want to be a fashion photographer because I wanted to be 'this artist' who did 'artistic photography'. I thought I had to be some fashionista to take fashion pictures. But I was good at it and now I'm claiming it back. And I'm starting to combine my interest in artistic photography with fashion. Outside of fashion, I enjoy doing creative photography – deadpan photography (that's what I'm really interested in), photographing people, landscapes and all sorts of things.
Influential Norway…
If I was living in a big city like London, which is very inspiring, it might drive me to do more creative things. I grew up in a small town and then moved to Oslo. Coming from a small town and moving to a bigger city made me feel very inspired. But then, after being here for a while I think I've had to work out my own way of looking at photography. Some people try to do what others are doing and be inspired by them but I try and focus on what I'm doing and doing it well.

This is very cheesy but I like the way Charles Bukowski looked at his work. I think he said that whenever he was in doubt of what he was doing or doubted his work, he would just look at what other people were doing and then felt better about himself. It's a little arrogant and maybe cheesy but I like that.

Group portrait
Collections of things…
I've always collected art books. They generally just sit on my shelf and look pretty but sometimes I flip through them for inspiration. They're something that I am always going to collect.

River grass
I check out the Art + Commerce website, Terry Richardson (a great photographer) and Sølve Sundsbø. If there are any other photographers that I admire, I like to look them up too.

There are a lot of people whose work I admire but I don't necessarily admire them as people because I don't know them. Sometimes I get inspired by the work but the person is something else. It's more their work that I admire.

Dramatic sky
Plans for the immediate future…
I'm planning to do a new project with landscapes on large format film. I have some film cameras that I want to experiment with. I'm just saving up some money and then I will start it. I usually shoot digital but it will be nice to use film and work on a more creative project.
Dream life…
I hope to be an artist and just do the stuff I fancy doing. I'd like to not have to worry about getting my next job. The past two years has been quite tight. I decided that I needed to just get into being a photographer on my own and I've succeeded in doing that. I think my next goal is just to have a more constant flow of work and be more of an artist. I'd like to be in a position where I can just work on projects that I want to work on.

Kjetil Hasselgård


Be nice and work hard. That's always good. There are lots of people who just bulldoze their way through to get to where they want to go. There are a lot of new photographers who are just starting out and it's always good to just be nice to everyone you meet and work with.

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