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Keld Kofoed Hansen 2015 Interview

Keld Kofoed Hansen is a photographer from the Danish island of Bornholm.
image taken by Keld Kofoed Hansen

Tell us how you got started in photography.

It all started when I was young, 16 years of age to be more specific. The class I was in at school wasgoing to Berlin, and my father gave me his SLR camera to try it out. I think he used this opportunityto buy himself a new one. Anyway, I was hooked after a few shots, and haven't moved much without a camera ever since.

Those were the days of film recording, and it was rather expensive to shoot abundantly. I quickly became interested in developing my black and white films and making the prints myself, and I did this for many years. I even made impressionistic images once in a while. This started by accident, but I later became more skilled.

I had almost worn out three more SLRs when the digital revolution started. But, being a longtime film photographer, I at first had a natural skepticism towards digital cameras, so it took me several years before I purchased my first one.

Why do you take photographs?

This is easily and shortly answered - because I can't help it! I can't sit still indoors when I notice some nice lighting outside the windows. Oftentimes I wake up at four or five in the morning to see the pre-sunrise taking place behind an amazing sky. Either way, I'm out to shoot.

Do you consider yourself an artist?

Indeed I do. I see no difference between making art as a painting or as a photograph. To me it isn't either/or - it is both. I very much like classic paintings; as it happens I prefer the impressionist masters like Monet.

image taken by Keld Kofoed Hansen

Do you have mentors?

A few. First and foremost my father, who taught me all about photography, all about how a change of setting can change an image and all about developing film and print making. Later I became acquainted with the works of Ansel Adams. His "Zone System" and his pictures really taught me a lot.

What do you do to keep yourself inspired?

I don't do anything in particular. It comes all by itself, when I move around somewhere, or when I see someone else's works. Also, I have loads of notes about subjects that I await the right lighting to shoot.

What equipment do you use?

My main camera is a Sony Alpha 65 with a Sony 16-105mm zoom. With this I can record more "artistic" images. I like a camera with live view, because I can totally control the lighting before exposure with the spot-metering function and the "Exposure Lock" button. I usually record with everything set to "Manual" (except the auto-focus), because I like to be in full control. The camera is always set to record RAW files, of course.

Finally, I have an adjustable ND filter which makes it possible to shoot impressionistic images at a full second, even in broad daylight.

Tell us about your process. What are your methods for working?

It all starts with the lighting. That may occur in any kind of weather, including fog and even late at night. On my way out, I try to consider which scene would be best to capture the given kind of light. This could be deep into a forest, on a beach or anywhere else.

When I get out there, I usually use many known techniques, at least until I feel sure that one is best. These include, for example, short and violent shaking with a relatively short exposure time (1/10 to 1/5 sec), a softer constant vertical (or horizontal) drag, a special self-developed (I think) technique which involves pressing the shutter during an upwards drag, stopping and lightly shaking the camera, all taking place within a one second period, maybe shooting something with a very low aperture setting, or shooting some nice reflections from a water surface.

image taken by Keld Kofoed Hansen

What type of post-processing do you use?

I develop all RAW files in my trusted Adobe Lightroom. This is a wonderful piece of software, and I find it very much like the old darkroom days. The advantage is, of course, that I can now adjust images individually while seeing what is happening on my screen.

Do you ever find yourself stuck in a creative block?

Very rarely. Usually I have at least one "project" running constantly. In rare cases I feel that I have run out of ideas and creativity. But that only lasts until I see someone else's work that triggers me as an inspiration.

Criticism - do you listen to it, or ignore it?

I learn a lot from criticism - constructive criticism, that is. And I certainly listen to it. I have started to ignore one kind of criticism, though; namely the ever-criticizing people who claim that I cheat by developing my images with a computer, and that I make images which don't look natural. For many years I tried to explain, that uncritical use of a camera with all settings on "Auto" and yielding JPGs made by the camera only, certainly don't look natural either. However I've found it to be hopeless, and don't bother anymore.

image taken by Keld Kofoed Hansen

When do you get your best ideas?

I get ideas any time during the day or night, and ideas suddenly appearing are usually the best ideas.

Is there a specific artist that you admire, and why?

No, not a specific artist, but a lot. I admire many impressionistic photographers, like many in the "Impressionism in Contemporary Photography" on Facebook; nobody mentioned, nobody forgotten. Apart from admiring their works, I also admire the courage of these people. I know first-hand what it's like to declare oneself an impressionistic photographer and for the first time open one's exhibition with only impressionistic images. Just as the old masters were ridiculed by the "established" art society for several years, I feel the same is going on with impressionistic photographs, at least where I live.

How do you know when you're in a "creative zone"?

I feel really great. Apart from love, the best feeling there is. I forget everything else, the time and what else there is to do.

What ambitions do you have now and where do you see yourself taking this in the future?

My ambitions are to keep doing what I like to do. Being a happy amateur I can do just that without caring whether anyone else likes what I do. It's pretty hard to make a living from being a photographer these days; if you want that, you'll have to make images people want to buy, like wedding photographs and other kinds of images which are meaningless to me.

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