An Interview with Claes Thorberntsson by Beata Moore

Heaven by Claes Thorberntsson

Claes Thorberntsson is a professional photographer. He was born and raised in Uddevalla Bohuslän. He bought his first camera in 2009 and since 2015 runs his own full time photographic business. The proximity and love for the Bohu coast meant that he quickly found his subjects around the rugged cliffs, where the waves often caress the polished slabs. Claes' style depicts what he sees in nature, in a graphically well-thought-out way. He likes strong compositions and to use water to create lines and patterns in an artistic way. His love for nature, and especially the barren and bare landscape, as well a mountain environments and forests, is visible in his images. Claes has had numerous images published in major international digital galleries, as well as in books and photo magazines. He presents regularly photo shows at photo clubs, photo festivals, etc. Claes also runs courses and photography trips together with Viktor Sundberg/N photography and shares his pictures on social media like Facebook and Instagram. 

Instagram: @fotografclaesthorberntsson

 1. What was your path to become a photographer? 
I became a photographer by chance actually; I sold a property, got a lot of money and bought a camera to take pictures of my daughter. I quickly noticed that I had a feeling for the image, and a good visual vision. Living near the coast in Sweden, it was natural to go there to photograph. 

2. Do you prefer to photograph close to home or do you find faraway places more inspiring? Are there any special places that inspire you the most to create new work? 
Both, at home and away. I live in a fantastic part of Sweden when it comes to coastal motifs. It is also close to the Norwegian mountains where I like to spend a few weeks per year. Another favourite country is Iceland, where I have been 4 times. Lofoten Islands in Norway is also very nice.

3. Are you a meticulous pre-planer or do you prefer creating images spontaneously? Do you revisit your favourite places many times to achieve the required result? Can you tell us more about your method of working? 
I am extremely meticulous, and often early at my locations to find good photo spots. I pay a lot of attention to foregrounds, so spends a lot of time finding nice ones. When I travel abroad, TQ is a really a good site to use to find interesting places, but I also use google maps, etc. Obviously I take unplanned spontaneous pictures too, and often they turn out to be the best ones actually.

4. Terra Quantum displays themes and series portfolios; do you like working to the project/series/theme or find creating individual images more rewarding? 
I am not a project person, so it is usually single pictures for me, not themes and series. However, when I visit other countries, the images take a form of series, so I can document various places.

5. Can you tell us a bit more about one chosen photograph – what is the story behind it, when/why/how it was created? 
Here is a typical approach for me: I came to this location in Uttakleiv on the Lofoten Islands early to find a nice foregrounds. There is a lot of good stuff to work with here, rocks, waves, sand formations etc. As the water receded new foregrounds formed; in the end I chose this little puddle. Balance and separation are important in the pictures, so I chose to position myself in such a way that the large mountain balances the pool.

6. Colour, b&w or both? How do you decide about the elimination or inclusion of colour and why. When do you decide about it - in the field or during the post processing? 
I always shoot in Raw. Of my pictures, probably 95% are in colour, but sometimes the feeling can be that a particular picture should be in black/white. Most of the time, you get a feel how the image should be during editing. I also like to desaturate the images to more muted colours. I like both black/white and colour, but it depends on the picture.

7. Do you find printing your images yourself as an integral part of image creation or do you use professional labs? How important is the choice of paper for you? 
I had a photo printer for a while, but realized it was better and cheaper to let others do this. Also, I was just annoyed that the ink cartridges always ran out... The choice of paper is important to me, I usually use Hahnenmuule fine art of various thickness.

8. Do you think that social media is killing photography or playing an important role in promoting your work? How involved are you in your online presence? 
I use Instagram, Facebook and Vero. I am not very active on Vero, but use more frequently the other two. The advantage of social media is that you reach many people who share your interest; as a result, I get a lot of jobs thanks to Insta and FB. It is also fun to see other people's pictures and get ideas about techniques and places. I am not sure if it kills the photography, but it is important to stand out if you want someone to stop and see your pictures.

9. Do you have any plans for exhibitions, books or any interesting projects coming? Can you tell us a bit more about your artistic plans for the next couple of years? 
I was more interested in exhibitions earlier in my career, I think it takes too much time, and in my opinion, exhibiting does not give much. In addition, it is a large cost to produce images in the size required for exhibition. But of course, I have had some over the years and have been lucky enough to get them sponsored. A dream is to publish a book; I have some ideas about it and have it in the pipeline. It is important that it goes well, so I take time. However, I have had the privilege of being included in some books.

10. We are living on the most beautiful planet, yet it is over-burdened and over-polluted. As photography is an influential medium, do you use the power of your photographs to promote our Earth appreciation and environmental awareness? Any thoughts how photographers in general can become more involved in this important matter? 
I am an elected member of the Swedish nature photographers./N (Sweden's foremost nature photographers). We work to try to reach out to people with our images. The association has had an exhibition on endangered species, we hold lectures on the forest, the lakes and biological diversity. I think it is important for us nature photographers to show where we stand on the issue of the climate. We want to continue being able to photograph our beautiful planet, as well as hand over the beautiful places to our children and grandchildren.

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