It was at that time when I was living in Berlin. A bare coincidence when my friend Markus connected Emma and me, as she was about to move to Berlin. Emma Hartvig is a young photography talent from Sweden, graduated from the London College of Communication. Her work can be described as arranged compositions, reminding you of still-lifes, a melange between painting, advertisement and photography. Inspired by film and cinema, it’s about the here and now, about narratives, about freezing and isolating moments. The barriers between paintings and photographies are blurred – a photorealistic painting or a picturesque photography? And already being exhibited in London, Amsterdam, Sweden and New York, you can be sure that Emma’s unique photography-style will attract even more art lovers in the future from all over the world.
Emma, how do you like Berlin? What differences do you see there compared to your hometown?
I don’t really compare Berlin to my hometown – I left many years ago and in-between that I lived in London and short-term in many other places. So I suppose the comparison lies in those places, if at all. Berlin is a great place to come back to if you travel a lot. It’s calm, inexpensive and friendly. I am always traveling for work, but know that there will be several new places I call home in the future.
Who are your biggest influences?
There are so many fantastic photographers that inspires me: Guy Bourdin, Gregory Crewdson, William Eggleston, Cindy Sherman, Irvin Penn – I could go on. Most of my work is inspired by cinema, though.
How would you describe your photography-style?
Narratives. And it’s very composed, arranged and graphic.
You take a lot photos of food, is there an explanation for that?
Whatever looks good to me. Food has a lot of color and shape, which is what I’m drawn to.
There are barely faces in your artwork, the focus is rather on bodies, why? And what do you intend with that?
I think it’s about the fact that my photographs are never about people. Whenever there’s models in my photos, they are much more like sculptures to me. They are only a part of a bigger narrative.
Analogue or digital photography? Pro’s and Con’s?
I like and use both. Digital photography suits my impatience (I need results straight away and I like things to move fast) and I have a complete RAW-file to work with and sculpt in post-production. This excites me a lot. Analogue on the other hand, is beautiful in its craftsmanship, I barely do any post and work very carefully on set to make sure it’s perfect. Also, the look of analogue is much nicer in my opinion; but you can reach that look in both mediums with the right tools.
I think that people are optimising everything in photography nowadays, speaking of retouching, Photoshop and so on. What do you think about it, is it a mirror of our society? Does a picture, model, object need to be perfect nowadays to fit the conventions? Which position takes your artwork concerning this?
I don’t photograph models in the usual fashion-mainstream way, and I don’t photoshop people like that either. By that I mean; heavy skin retouch, changing the figure of the model and so on. I retouch a lot, but I have always used it like the way I paint; color and light. I use the pencil tool in photoshop the same way as I would on an actual piece of paper.
Which famous person would you like to have infront of your camera one day?
There’s a lot of beautiful and interesting people I’d love to photograph. I think musicians like Björk and Joanna Newsom would be wonderful to collaborate with, since their appearance is very artistic and sculptural.
When was the last time you wanted to freeze a moment and had no camera with you?
I have actually never taken a single photograph (as a part of my portfolio) that was a ‘momentary snap’ – I carefully craft and arrange every single photo. Almost like film and story boarding. If I see something inspiring on the street that might influence a photo later; I snap it with my phone or just write it down on a piece of paper.
Making your passion into profession – is it hard sometimes to constantly stay inspired?
Luckily, I have never had that problem. I am constantly ‘working’ (although I wouldn’t call it work since it is such a natural part of me) by looking at films, in books, at different shows. I collect so many images that are everywhere around me, reminding me of the next thing to shoot.
Are you proud of what you’re doing with your heart and time right now?
Absolutely! I feel very privileged that I can do it all, and that I constantly have the most wonderful support and help.
Where do you see yourself with your work?
I don’t know yet, and I hope I never will, since it constantly makes me move forward and explore new areas. First I’m excited to see what my 2016 portfolio will look like.