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Esben Bøg – Jensen

Tell us a little bit about yourself

29 years old. Living in Copenhagen. Just finished studying Modern Culture at university and currently unemployed – but I’m working on that. I’m also really bad at telling a little bit about myself.

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How did you get into photography?

I simply picked up a camera one day and started shooting! At first I took photos of stuff like raindrops, leaves and lonely light poles. If you adventure far enough back on my flickr-stream you can actually find those initial attempts of doing something interesting. Took a while before I started to get results that I thought was worthwhile and really wanted to share. As soon as I had the basic feel for it I started to get deeper into photography and began to recreate and emulate all of my favorite photographers. I started to shoot film because that was what the masters I emulated did, and with that medium I almost instantly felt like I’d reached a style that was uniquely me.

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What type of photography do you mainly do?

I don’t really know. I always bring a camera and take it out as soon as I feel like something is worth it. I have grown a lot more selective over the years, but I think I know when I see that moment that needs capturing. I guess I’m in the “contemporary photographer” category. Make of that what you like.

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What are the situations in which you do prefer to take images?

Situations that is as close to reality as possible. I have talked about this before and I always give the same answer. I’d like to think that photography is challenging the idea of our own mortality. It has the ability to freeze time and capture a moment that suddenly gives life meaning. A beautiful photograph to me is one of synchronicity. You don’t look at a photo like that not with a longing nostalgia for what once was – which some might be inclined to think – but as a reminder of just how beautiful life can be. Photos like these are rare and only come along once in a blue moon, but they make it worthwhile for any. Usually you don’t even know you’ve captured such a moment before you see the developed photo. I love the hunt for that single photo that just makes you feel alive.

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What are your tips for telling a story with a photograph?

Have patience! Photography has made me aware of my surroundings; it’s made me embrace most things with openness and a curiosity I can’t imagine living without. Good art is supposed to – if not to question the very meaning of our existence – at least ensure that we look at life as deeply as we can and that we make the most out of it. And that’s what I’m looking for in a photograph. I want a story or a fragment of something real. To me that’s what good art is.
Unfortunately, art these days seems to be more about being clever. It has become another comment on politics, religion, about society, or perhaps art itself. Yet, it gives us nothing in terms of looking inward, of searching for something greater than the obvious and tangible world around us. To me, great art is supposed to bring us a sort of transcendence and that is what I want to achieve with my photography. Unfortunately, as I mentioned earlier, those moments are rare and you need a good portion of patience to snap something like it.

Why do you prefer to shot on film?

Film is something special. It gives photos a great look and leaves you with the feeling of dealing with actual craftsmanship. There is just something special about knowing that what you’re seeing is light on paper and not just ones and zeros. It’s also more challenging, which is never bad when you’re a photographer. Every shoot counts and it simply makes you think differently.
I also started to shoot film because I’ve often felt that art is never really about the handcraft, but all about the idea behind it. I wanted a more hands-on workflow that was closer to that of painting and sculpturing, and that’s definitely also why I fell in love with film – it was something that in my eyes elevated my photography a little bit and made it feel like more of a craft. It is also harder to make something beautiful when you shoot film because you can’t lie. In that way, film is way more rewarding to yourself and to the viewer alike! What they see is about as close to an aesthetic truth as you can get.

Do you miss the option to see your picture right away?

Not at all! The excitement only grows when you can’t see anything before you get the film developed. There is nothing I enjoy more than a cup of coffee and sitting with my scanner going through rolls of film. Watching the photos slowly reveal themselves on the screen is the best thing ever.

How important is the gear for you when you create an image?

In terms of camera choice I don’t think it matters much. These days I have grown very fond of the medium format camera Mamiya 7. I love the quality of the images it produces and the 6×7 format. But ultimately I don’t think it matters much. I do recommend everyone to get their own scanner though and spending the time it takes to figure it out. Took me quite a while, but now it saves me a bunch of money and I have more creative control. I use an old Canonscan 8800f and even though it does have it’s limitations I’ve been very happy with it.

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Esben Bøg – Jensen is a photographer from Copenhagen, Denmark. You can find more information about him on his website and follow Esben on Flickr and Instagram.