An Eye for What Works: Meet Photographer Inge Johnsson

Photographer Inge Johnsson captures everything from landscapes to nude portraits with his stunning collection of photography. Today he’s sharing a bit about his career as a photographer, what the photography scene is like in Sweden, and how cultural differences have shaped his practice. Find out more about Inge Johnsson below and then hop over to Imagekind to shop his collection!


Surround Yourself: How did you get into photography?

Inge Johnsson: I had friends and family, during my younger days, that were into cameras and photography and that was part of what intrigued me about the craft. But growing up in Sweden, I believe it was my vacation travels across America and discovery of the American landscape masters like Ansel Adams and Edward Weston that really got me hooked.

My passion grew as I learned the craft and found even more inspiration in more contemporary landscape masters such as Jack Dykinga, David Muench, and Galen Rowell.


 Empire State Blue Night


SY: Have you always known you wanted to be a professional photographer?

IJ: I am really managing two careers at this point, my “day job” and my part time professional photography business. I most certainly did not see the latter coming, but rather gradually kept getting deeper and deeper into photography including the business aspects of it.


 Vernazza Pomeriggio


SY: You’ve lived in several places, from Scandinavia to Seattle to Dallas. Are there any differences in the art and photography scenes in those places?

IJ: These days I think the online art and photography communities are more important that the local ones, and thus it may not make as much of a difference where you live. My focus on photography also came largely after I had moved from Sweden so I cannot really say much about it at this point.

My impression is that the art scene in Sweden is a little more inclined to only consider certain types of photography as art, such as photo journalism and fine art. I find the American scene more open to all kinds of artistic expression and a little less “elitist”. On the other hand, things like fine art nude artworks seem less acceptable to American audiences than European ones, due to cultural differences.


 Mount Rainier Sunburst


SY: Your photography spans a lot of subjects: food, travel, still life, landscapes, nudes. Is there one subject you enjoy shooting more than others?

IJ: My original passion for photography was nature and landscapes and that still remains what I am perhaps most passionate about. I think many of the other types of subjects I now enjoy grew out of that original passion and focus, as I saw composition, textures, light, shapes, and forms in still lives, places I traveled to, architecture, etc.

Fine art nudes for me is really primarily about the human figure in the landscape. Many years ago now, I remember seeing some fine art photographs, in infrared, of a female figure in the sandstone landscape of the desert Southwest. I loved it, and how the human figure complemented and interacted with the curves and shapes of the surrounding grand landscape.

So fine art nudes is now something I really enjoy, and I especially like revisiting some of the landscapes I know so well and rediscover them with the human figure as a new element to juxtapose against curved rocks, rough bark on trees, or flowing waterfalls. There is something very primeval about it.


 Marble Canyon Cactus


SY: How do you know when a photo is complete?

IJ: I try have a basic idea of what I want to capture when I engage in any photographic activity. There are at least two different aspects to knowing when a photo is complete, when the capture is made and when the post processing is completed. As for the former, I usually spend a lot of time exploring a subject at different times of day, different points of view, even different times of year.

When I finally click the shutter I know what it is I saw and felt, and it is really that I want to make sure comes across in the final artwork. It may not always be a literal interpretation of the moment in terms of saturation, color temperature, contrast, and other parameters that are managed in the post processing and finalization of the image, but when I see on my screen what I had envisioned when I made the capture, then I know that my work is complete.

Of course, sometimes I return to the same image and re-process it, or crop it differently. Maybe they are never complete.


 Mount Rainier Goodnight


SY: What’s been the most surreal moment of your career?

IJ: I wouldn’t say I have had any truly surreal moments, but every new professional success has been exhilarating, whether getting certain assignments, or getting published in National Geographic publications.


 Glacier Symphony


SY: When you’re not taking photos, what do you enjoy doing?

IJ: I am somewhat of a foodie so great and exciting food and drink is something I truly enjoy; new flavors, new types of cuisine, good wine. Something I miss from living in the Pacific Northwest was the proximity to an immense amount of truly amazing public lands. When I lived there I used to hike and backpack as much as I could, but here in Texas there are far fewer enticing hiking trails nearby.


 Dark River Canyon


SY: Do you currently have any travel plans for your next photoshoot? What is your dream location to take photographs?
IJ: I don’t know if I have a singular dream location for photography. I plan on visiting Iceland next year, but my list of places to see is very long now.

I hope to be able to see more of Africa and Latin America, since I have only been to a few places on those continents. Any place that has amazing nature, fantastic architecture, or colorful culture is on my list (as well as mouthwatering cuisine).


 Firenze Sunset


SY: Nature and the way it’s portrayed in photography is clearly very important to you. What are some of the challenges of capturing natural beauty with your camera?

IJ: As I stated before, nature and landscapes were my first love in photography and are still my most dear subject. There is just something about the exploration and discovery that feels so rewarding to me–hiking long distances, seeing nature up close, smelling it, hearing it, feeling it.

The challenge is translating that intimate experience to a two-dimensional digital capture. It is often extraordinarily difficult, but over time you get increasingly adept at it, fortunately. Once one has developed an eye for what works photographically, it is a matter of really working the subject, walking around, trying a different lens, waiting for the light to be different, maybe later or earlier in the day, or even waiting until night time.

Besides these important things, the other main challenge is to distill down what I see in front of me to its core subject elements, what is the essence of what I am seeing and experiencing? What is it that excites me about it and I want to capture?


 Cattle Point Poppies #3


SY: What do you surround yourself with?

IJ: I surround myself with my family, art, and my photographic office environment. But in a way you could also say that I surround myself with all the places I seek out and travel to around the world. I so enjoy exploration and discovery, finding new and rediscovering familiar places, and of course creating art throughout my journeys.


 Wyoming Horses


Shop Inge Johnsson’s collection on Imagekind!