February 8, 2021
Photography by Sven Svensøn
Interview by Melanie Meggs
Take a journey back in time. Imagine living in an era of rotary phones, an era when the most advanced technology was a distant dream. This is the world in which the self-taught German photographer Sven Svensøn grew up. But he was not deterred by the lack of resources, and instead drew inspiration from the few adjustment options and fixed lens of his iPhone. This early experience enabled Sven to develop a unique approach to creativity and composition, which he continues to use to this day. Armed with a camera and a standard fixed focal length lens, Sven captures the world around him in high-contrast black and white photographs. Images are merely a by-product of his journey; it's the memories of their creation that are truly important. Join us as we explore Sven's creative process and discover how a simple iPhone sparked a lifetime of artistic exploration.
“I grew up in Hamburg in the age of the rotary telephone. I was inspired by the iPhone...I've always been interested in art and design. Shapes and colors. Photography had for a long time been on my list of interests. Finally, the iPhone brought me closer to photography – always along and easy to use. The few adjustment options and the fixed lens taught me a lot about image composing. So I made my first attempts at street photography with a mobile phone.”
IN CONVERSATION WITH SVEN SVENSØN
THE PICTORIAL LIST: Sven, what is it that you enjoy about street photography. What happens when you walk the streets with your camera?
SVEN SVENSØN: Going out to take pictures is like meditation for me. Just me and my camera. Nothing else. When I walk, I have no idea where the tour will take me or what will happen next. For me, that's the most exciting thing about street photography - those unexpected moments. I try not to bother anyone and just take a few shots and that's all.
TPL: Where do you find your inspiration to photograph?
SS: Mostly it comes out of my memory, from situations, places I have visited, and finally, from movies, I have watched. Especially from film noir.
TPL: Do you have any favourite locations to go photographing? Has the pandemic affected you and your photography?
SS: I like my hometown Hamburg very much and have several places here to take photos. It depends on what kind of photo I have in mind. The pandemic does not affect my style of photography. Too many people in the streets and squares often make creating a picture difficult. In my pictures, I prefer to have only one person in focus.
TPL: What do you want to express through your photography? And what are some of the elements you always try to include in your photographs?
SS: When I reach people with my pictures, I am satisfied. I've always tried to create a mood and convey it to the viewer. I really like geometric elements in my pictures and try to keep my pictures from being so crowded. I prefer a reduced style, just a few elements, and a nice play of shadows.
TPL: Does the equipment you use help you in achieving your vision in your photography? What camera/s do you use? Do you have a preferred lens/focal length?
SS: Yes of course, without a camera no photos. LOL 😊 My priority is a small camera that goes always along with me. So I use the Ricoh GR III – I love this little thing! I also have Sony A7 with a 35 mm focal lens. That’s all. Equipment is not so important to me, they are just tools.
Going out to take pictures is like meditation for me. Just me and my camera. Nothing else.
TPL: When you go out photographing, do you have a concept in mind of what you want to shoot, or do you let the images just 'come to you', or is it both?
SS: Both, sometimes I go out with a concept in mind and come back with some random pictures. That's okay and exciting at the same time.
TPL: What are some of your goals as an artist? Where do you see yourself or hope to see yourself in five years?
SS: That is difficult to say. I enjoy doing photography as a hobby besides my job and may I dream about becoming a professional photographer in the future.
TPL: Are there any special projects you are currently working on that you would like to let everyone know about?
SS: Not really. But we'll see what the future will bring. I'm really looking forward to it myself.
TPL: When I am not out photographing, I (like to)...
SS: Invite good friends to cook for them and have a great time together.
Sven Svensøn's story of self-taught photography is a testament to the power of creativity and resourcefulness. Sven's journey has been one of learning and exploration. It's a reminder that with the right tools and an open mind, anyone can find beauty and inspiration in everyday life. We invite you to join Sven on his journey and draw creative inspiration from his photography.