Nikon D800, 35mm plastic cameras, Polaroid SX-70.
Richard Mosse, Andreas Gursky, Wolfgang Tillmans, Nadav Kander and many more.
Iceland and Norway.
Juvet landscape hotel.
“Access all areas” by Ninjalicious.
Øystein Aspelund (b. 1984) is a Norwegian photographer based in Trondheim, Norway. With a background in architecture, he always seeks to have a cultural presence in his images. He has a long-time fascination for the contrast between nature and culture, and his work aims to illustrate this special relationship.
Øystein Aspelund: Between Documentary And Art Photography.
One of the main themes of his inspiration are places that have seen rapid changes. It may be borderlands, grey zones on the map, where the civilisation turns into the wild. Or reflections on the struggle between man and his environment; the need to expand in opposition to the forces of nature. Often his results end up in a field between traditional documentary and art photography.
His first projects, mostly documentary series, were shot in Germany in 2009, where he discovered his passion for photography. His work has been in constant transformation since then and has developed into several different visual expressions. His body of work is both rich and varied and is frequently present on various websites and blogs all around the world.
-How did you first become interested in photography?
I was more or less using photography early on as a simple tool to document my travels and my student work. But I believe my photographical journey started basically in 2009, when I got my first DSLR. I was living in Berlin, studying at the university there. It was a city full of visual impressions, which in many ways triggered my interest in photography.
-How would you describe your style of photography?
In the last recent years, as I moved back home to Norway, I have been focusing more on how to create a style that is based upon the Nordic landscape. I believe you, more or less, can find that present in many of my recent work. I see my style as a narrative mix that borrows from both art photography and more traditional documentary photography.
-Is there a theme or concept that runs throughout all of your work?
Thematically, I have a long time fascination with the duality between nature and culture. I prefer to say that you can find representations of this tension in all my work. The concept of each project determines what will be most present. Sometimes it could be almost only culture (buildings/architecture), and sometimes the opposite.
I guess the general viewer could find elements of solitude, silence, existence and desolation in a lot of my work. However, I find it important that the viewer can make his/hers own interpretation of the work. With that in mind, I generally prefer not to explain my projects too deeply.
-How has your background in architecture influenced the way you shoot?
Several ways. In big terms, it could be like the importance on having an idea or concept, and stay true to it. To create content that tells a story, and the importance on presentation. Among others.
Ecstatically I am inspired a lot by the minimalist ideal, which I know also goes for many architects. And of course it kind of comes more natural for me to shoot architecture and man-made structures.
-What is your creative process like? What are your start, middle and end points?
It depends on what kind of project I am working on. I usually start shooting intuitively, most likely while on a journey. Then I start the more systematic work to find out what connects and unites all the images (pieces). Then the process usually starts by narrowing it down to an idea or framework, which I can develop a project on.
When this is settled, I can go for a more direct approach for the next images I feel the project needs. This is a quite slow process, and it may take up to a year or more until it is properly finished and sorted out into a project. To me this process is both a privilege and of high importance, as it gives time for the projects to grow, develop and live their own life.
-What is your post-production workflow like?
I prefer to do as little as possible, less is more. In general, I usually make some small changes in contrast, colour, and exposure. Finally, I also apply some retouching, but this is mostly removing dust, scratches and superficial elements. Sometimes I also do heavy processing as in the ‘CYAN’ series.
-What is your dream project?
I have a big fascination for remote places. I believe it could be to make a long term project on the Antarctic continent, focused on its unique history, nature and the research going on there.
-What is your biggest resource in relation to technical knowledge and how long did it take you to master your technique?
Unfortunately, I must say trial and error, and not giving up 😉 However, different forums on the web prove to be very helpful when I get a technical problem. There is so much good advice to be found on various user forums and photography websites.
Technically it was a big step for me to start shooting on a tripod. It opened up a lot of new abilities, and opportunities. It also meant that I had to put more attention into each shot. It is a very basic discovery in photography, but it had an important impact on my style and on how I work in the field.
In any case, I see my work mostly as rather simple on a technical level. The hardest part has been to get access and find the places that give me the kind of results that I look for.
-The locations that you shoot are obviously very special to you. What is it like to work in a landscape that you feel so connected to?
I guess you can say it feels ‘right’. They continue to be a great source of inspiration. It is also a great feeling to capture and display these surroundings the ways I want, and give them the attention they deserve.
-What are some of the biggest influences on your work?
A lot. One big part is the information available on the internet; the stream of different elements ranging from biographies, historic events, architecture, documentary films, and contemporary artists with a strong voice, to classical/historical painters.
A second part could be what I experience when I travel and make journeys, like people, places, nature, light and landscape.I also like to research other great artist, and understand how they work.
-Do you see your work as documentary, commercial or art based?
My work is primarily personal projects, which mostly fit in the art and documentary-based categories.
-What was the best career advice you were ever given?
I believe it would be to never give up, and find and develop your own voice. Show your work to people you trust, and ask for their true opinion. Allow your work to be criticised, but also ask friends for backup and support when you need it. 🙂