Hello everyone! We are excited to introduce to you a brand new category on our blog, titled Career Talk where you will be able to find inspiring interviews with people whos activities we find truly impressive. In this first article you can discover a young and talented photographer that we had the pleasure to work with, Simon Skipper, how he became a true professional and a little bit of his work. We hope you will enjoy it and for his complete portfolio you can head over to his website.
SAHB: When did you take your first significant photo and which camera did you use?
I remember my first digital camera. A small Canon Powershot with 2 megapixels that I took over from my uncle when I was 13 in ‘03 and he needed something more modern. It’s funny to think about how now even mobile phones have more than 10 times that resolution. It was fun to play around with, and I got it because I was going to Brazil for a month with my school. When I came back to Denmark I had shot a bit with it, more or less randomly and without caring much I recall, but I still got compliments for my photos from friends and family. I probably figured I was good at it, so that must have made it fun for me to continue shooting though it took some years for me to consider it a hobby.
Many photographs have been significant for me, but the first photo I remember thinking about and really ‘feeling’, was one from the trip to Brazil. We went hiking in the jungle, and at one point on a mountain our guide climbed out on a steep side of a cliff, pretty treacherous, though he seemed very fulfilled and calm in the moment. He reached a small plateau and sat there gazing out on the distant landscapes. There was something there, something that touched and inspired me. So I photographed it and brought it home. I still remember that picture as well as identify with the feeling I believe the guide had when he sat there. That must have made me realise how powerful photography can be and how it brings wonder, inspiration, reminiscence and understanding to people.
SAHB: Have you always wanted to be a photographer?
After having dreamt for a while about being a fireman and pilot like little boys do, I started skateboarding. The difficult tricks had to be documented, so my friends and I started filming, eventually publishing and selling a trilogy of full-length DVD’s (check Landsurfers on Youtube if you’re interested). This led to media studies in high school, and I eventually discovered that the immediacy and simplicity of photography resonates more with my nature. I still make movies as well though.
Specifically after a world trip about 5 years ago I discovered more little miracles having my camera in my hand. It worked as an excuse to be impolitely curious and brought me to places and friendships I’d otherwise never have dared to chase. It helps me to understand the world in a way I could never reach through the intellectual power of thoughts and words, and additionally it’s a way for me to remember daily highlights and focus on the things in the world that inspire me. I guess most photographers have a very selective vision. Hopefully that’s a strength, ha ha.
SAHB: Which is your favorite type of photography and how would you describe your work?
I like to challenge myself. Take time to just walk down the street, at home or in any city, spontaneously, following any thought or inspiration that might come to my head. If I see someone who scares me, wonder how the view looks from the top of a crane or see something I don’t understand, I do everything I can to chase my curiosity. It doesn’t always happen, but mostly. When it doesn’t I can be frustrated for days, I try to use that as a motivation to push myself more, though.
I prefer photographing people. I feel like I could spend years with a subject and still only have discovered a fraction of their being. It gives me new understanding of myself as well, and I always try to get under the skin of who I’m photographing, catching that split second when they put down their façade and are completely vulnerable and honest with the camera in being themselves. You could call that a non-moment. It’s damn hard to catch but all worth it.
Many things fascinate me and I’m still in the process of finding out completely where my main focus should be (that’s probably a never-ending process though). Recently I’m getting more into analog photography with a small Konicka point-and-shoot (which I also used for our shoot in the forest) and a Rolleiflex I’ve borrowed. It feels more honest and tangible to me and doesn’t remind me of work with the patience needed in the process. Shooting digital/SLR has loads of advantages too though.
If I should describe my photography/my style in a sentence it would probably be that I want to convey the feeling of the moments I shoot in an honest, creative and subjective way. I want to help people understand each other.
SAHB: Which photographer and publication offer the best inspiration for you?
Let me name a few. Mads Nissen for his drive, modesty and always being exceptionally well prepared. Stacy Kranitz for showing me things I didn’t know existed or were possible to photograph. Hannes Caspar for his portraits. Guy Tal for his philosophy. Bruce Gilden for being dedicated beyond reason on the streets. And Alec Soth plus Paolo Pellegrin.
Vice Magazine is probably the publication that inspires me the most with their alternative stories. I also enjoy New York Times’ Lightbox and of course National Geographic. Information, Berlingske and Politiken here in Denmark are also quality papers with photographic weight and the train magazine Ud & Se usually is as well.
SAHB: If you could photograph anyone or any place in the world, who would that be?
I would like a lot to photograph in a Scientology community or with Jehova’s Witnesses. They don’t allow photography in their communities, which I respect, but it also contributes to the prejudice about them. I would also like to make a series of Putin as a private person or, if I could travel back in time make portraits of Einstein, Newton or Osho. Not just to photograph them but to learn from being around them as well. People say I’m inquisitive, and they’re very right.
SAHB: Which of your photos are you the proudest of?
That’s hard to say! Let me list up a handful.
The photo overlooking Aarhus Harbor under construction at night spontaneously made from atop a crane after a band photo shoot. That’s what blessed me with winning a photo expedition to Greenland with all expenses paid and even private planes/helicopters! Despite actually not being allowed to climb cranes, but no one really asked me about that, ha ha.
Also the photo I have on my business card from a Japanese wedding party with a very well-dressed man eating noodles from the floor. That reminds me to always expect the unexpected in photography and in life.
In Lebanon I made a photo reportage. One shot is of a young man lying on a sidewalk by a car, gazing up on the sky, and upon discussing it with friends and teachers I realized how powerful it is. It’s very open. Is he sad? Is he drunk or on drugs? Just tired, or thinking of how to ask a girl out? Sometimes I prefer not telling the real story, so the viewer can make up his/her own.
‘Malmøcitater’ is the last one I want to mention, a manipulated photo collage of authentic street-life situations shot in Malmø, Sweden with my dear friend and photo partner Mathias Lind. We spent several months on the execution/exhibition of the whole project, my biggest single project to date. It’s exhibited at Galleri T in Aarhus until the end of August if anyone’s interested.
SAHB: What are your plans/ your future projects for Skipper Photography?
Since I’m about to move to Copenhagen to start my photojournalism internship at Berlingske, I will focus my energy on that for a while. Any energy/inspiration left will go to photo projects, hopefully with Mathias when I’m in Aarhus, and commercial work as well. One project I’ve got coming up as part of RETHINK:2017 in Aarhus is ‘Byens Skygger’ (City Shadows) with artist Pernille Kjølholt. She paints silhouettes and shadows of the city on canvas and on the street with chalk, it’s super rad and creates a new dimension, I photograph and film her creations plus the process. We’ll exhibit in August, I’ll keep you updated!
SAHB is a big admirer of your personal style, could you describe a bit your relationship with fashion? (ex. is it something that interests you, what inspires you when creating an outfit, favourite style, statement pieces that you always wear, like hats etc.)
Ha ha, thank you! That’s quite a compliment, given how fashionable you girls are. Well, I wouldn’t say I’m into fashion, as in reading magazines, following certain brands or whatever, that’s not my thing. But I would sure be lying if I said I don’t care about the way I dress, because I do. It’s a way of expressing myself, and as for most creative people, expressing myself matters to me. I don’t mind being a bit carefree and crazy with what I wear. I like colors and my style is definitely inspired by the people I care about and the things I’m passionate for. Skateboarding, humor, happiness, music, traveling and arts inspire my style. In a strange way combined with classic fashion or even business-style when I need to be professional. I could for example wear a crazy batique shirt with a colorful pattern with black pants and a simple leather belt. Like with photography, it just resonates with me. It has to be comfortable, I often walk around in FiveFingers shoes, even though some people think it’s silly – I don’t care.
I also like hats; they give personality and show confidence I believe. I like to combine different styles to express the nuances in my personality. Things bought in faraway countries combined with a thing from an outlet sale or a second-hand shop. I try to be as sustainable as possible, buy things used or on offer and always pass on or give away clothes I don’t use any longer. In Denmark we have the ‘law of Jante’ in our mentalities, “don’t think your’re something special” it says, perhaps that’s why a lot of people dress very modestly.