Maren Klemp is a fine art photographer living and working in Oslo, Norway. She started photography at the age of seventeen and also used the medium of poetry and short stories to give an outlest to her creative self. Her current body of work revolves around dark and dreamy monochromatic self portraits. Maren has been interested in psychology and mental health, and many of her images are visual representations of conditions associated with mental illness by featuring characters is darkness and isolation.
Please tell us about yourself and your relationship with photography. Do you have some education or any degree in photography? If yes, does it help you in your work?
My name is Maren Klemp and I’m a fine art photographer living and working in Oslo, Norway. My relationship with photography is both stormy and passionate. My work requires much from me, but it also gives so much back! I would say that I eat, sleep and breathe photography. It is basically my way of living.
I studied fine art photography under Professor Robert Meyer at Robert Meyer Kunsthøgskole in Oslo, and I have been working in the field of fine art photography for several years. By studying photography I gained both the technical and creative tools that I need to create my images, so yes, it absolutely help me in my work.
What does photography mean to you? What do you want to express from your images and how do you view your evolution as a photographer?
Photography gives me the opportunities to express myself in every way you can imagine. There is absolutely no limit for what you can do with photography, and that is what excites me the most about it. I want my images to convey emotions hidden in the mind of the viewer. Emotions that people do not pay much attention to during their lives, but may recognize and acknowledge by looking at my images. I feel that I have grown much as a photographer the last couple of years. I started focusing more on self-portraiture and I have worked hard to develop my style and my work as a brand. It is important to me that my work is cohesive and recognizable to the viewer.
When I was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder a few years ago, I decided to photograph what I felt at the time, and I have been doing it ever since. I learned that it was much easier to convey the mood emotions I wanted the pictures to have, by placing myself in front of the camera. My style is constantly developing, but I make sure that it always has my “signature”.
I do find the theme “rebirth” very intriguing, and I have started to focus on it in my work. I am also fascinated with our subconscious, and I am planning a new series based on this theme. The human mind in general is a red thread in my work, and think I will even stick to this theme in various ways for a long time.
I have a strict rule when it comes to photography, and that is to never pick up my camera unless I have a concrete idea of how I want the picture to look like. I draw sketches and make notes regarding wardrobe, settings, props, location and post-production. The planning process can take weeks. I only use myself or my children as models, and they know exactly what I want them to do, and by promising them a little treat after the session, I know that the result will be good.
I currently work with a Canon 5 d mark II, a Petzval 85 mm brass lens and Canon 50 mm f 1.4 lens. I always shoot in raw, and in editing I often convert the image to black and white, adjust light and contrast and add a texture layer. I like to finish the picture as much as I can in the camera instead of in Photoshop.
Yes, my favorite photo is called “The Bird Tamer”. I took this picture by a lake called Harestuavannet, and it shows a woman holding a white bird. Several people have told me that they feel peace by looking at it, and it is actually the first picture I ever sold.
My view on contemporary photography is that it is too much focus on the “shock factor” rather than the aesthetics. Many talented photographers does not receive any credits for their work, when unskilled photographers rise to the top just because they photographed vomit in a heart shape or something up that alley. I feel that social media can be a great platform to both exhibit and sell your work. You can’t sit around and wait to be discovered, you have to work hard spreading your work as much as you can.
I have participated in both solo-and group exhibitions in Oslo, Norway, and my work has been featured in several magazines such as Fraction Magazine, Adore Noir Magazine, Dodho Magazine, Slippery Edge Magazine, Emboss Magazine and Snap Magazine. I am also the co-author of the book “Between Intervals” together with the American photographer and professor Dr. José Escobar. “Between Intervals” is a fine art book on mental disorders told through photographs.
My favorite photographers are Sally Mann, Emmet Gowin, Francesca Woodman and Gregory Crewdson. These days I mostly listen to the Swedish sisters duo called First Aid Kit and Patti Smith.
Other sources of inspiration are Tim Burton, Charles Bukowski, Sylvia Plath and the Norwegian painter Odd Nerdrum.
I didn’t have any friends at school, didn’t want any. I felt better being alone. I sat on a bench and watched the others play and they looked foolish to me. ~ Charles Bukowski
Something to say to our readers or aspiring photographers:
Find your own voice and style, and always stay true to that! I also think it is important to use social media in a clever way to get your work out there and seen.