1x photographer Erik Johansson is the man of the hour in the creative edit genre, with both a new exhibition at Fotografiska in Stockholm and a photo book dedicated to his amazing work. Like few others, he can create realistic images of fantastic situations and environments, straight out of his imagination.
Could you please tell us about your new exhibition?
I'm a photographer that works in a different way. I try to capture the impossible. I use photography to gather material, which I then use to create these images. The exhibition is a showcase of my best work. Even though I'm a digital artist, I shoot digitally and I edit digitally, I still think that a real big print is the best way to experience my art. There are a lot of details that suddenly become visible when you look at the photo on a large format, that you would'nt see on a computer screen.
You are also releasing a new book that accompanies the exhibition. What can you tell us about it?
The book is called "Imagine" and features my best work from the last nine years. It's a very nice little photo book and I hope people wil enjoy it.
How come you started with Creative Edit?
I have always liked to draw and paint. When you draw something on a paper, there is a process. You have an idea and then you start working with it, slowly making it appear on the paper. When I started with photography, it felt weird that everything was over as soon as you pressed the button.
I wanted to continue working on my photos. It was very natural for me to treat photography the same way as I did with my drawings. In the beginning, I learned more by reading books and experimenting. I had no thoughts on doing it for a living. But after a while, I started doing more complex images and that has taken me to what I do today.
Could you please describe your work process?
Coming up with a good idea and planning how to realize it, is what takes the most time. It's also what's most important. Once you know what you want to create, you have to find out where you can locate the individual elements and how to capture them in the best way possible.
Then it's all about putting it all together, which also is very time consuming. Usually it takes a couple of months to create an image, but I work with several images simultaneously. I could probably make the images faster, but with these projects of my own, I want to give the ideas enough time to mature and develop. I only do around 5-10 images per year.
What equipment are you using?
Today I'm using a Hasselblad H5D-40 with a 35-90 zoom lens and a 24mm wide angle prime lens. It fulfills all my needs. For processing, I primarily use Photoshop. I have been using photoshop for the latest 15 years and I'm still learning new things. There are so many shortcuts and new ways to accomplish what you want to achieve.
The creative edit genre has traditionally had a hard time getting accepted at the major photographic institutions. Do you feel that this exhibition is a sign on that times are changing?
Yes, I certainly do. I think it's very good that the Stockholm museum of photography dares to take this step. I have the greatest respect for photographers who does everything "in camera". That's an art form of it's own.
But I still think what I'm doing is to be regarded as photography. I only use photography to create the images, there are no other elements.
Does that mean that you are not using stock footage or computer generated elements in your images?
Exactly! I produce all parts of the image myself and I do it with a camera. I don't generate any parts of it in the computer. This is very important to me and a big part of the challange.
I capture all elements in the camera and then use the computer to lay the puzzle and combine everything. I work hard to make the images appear photo realistic, no matter how twisted they are. The basic idea is to show how something would have looked, if it actually existed.
What do you think about the future of the Creative Edit genre?
The development of the genre is closely linked with the technological advances. I think computer generated elements will be easier to create and that we will see a lot more of it in the future. Personally, I will stick to my philosophy of capturing everything for real. But I think this genre will grow rapidly in the years to come.
Erik's exhibition "Imagine: Created reality" can be seen at Fotografiska in Stockholm, Sweden, until April 10. The book "Imagine" is available here.