For professional photographer, Maren Klemp, creativity has always been a huge part of her life. As a teenager, she wrote poetry and short stories. But she was also searching for a way to express herself visually. She says “I have no talent for either painting or drawing, so when my father bought me my first camera at the age of seventeen I immediately knew that I wanted to become a photographer”.
She quit high school and got an internship as a photographer in a local newspaper. When the internship ended she continued her education by attending art school and studied fine art photography. A few years later after her son was born, she realized she had to get a “normal job” in order to have a steady income. So she studied administration and economy and worked in that field for a few years. Finally, in 2013 she decided to return to photography and since then she has been working full time on several long-term projects.
She now exhibits her work in galleries and sells them to collectors.
So Maren, where are you from?
I’m from a town outside of Oslo called Harestua.
Where do you currently live?
I now live in Oslo, Norway.
What genre of photography do you specialize in?
I specialize in fine art, self-portraiture and conceptual photography. During the first few years of my career, I worked exclusively in black and white. but in recent years I have been mostly into colors.
Describe your style of photography?
I would describe my style as honest, dark and dreamy with a hint of mystery.
What are you working on at the moment?
At the moment I’m working on a mixed media project called “Kingdom Plantae”. I have combined photography with gouache paint, and I have really been enjoying the process. I have studied the use of flowers through the history of art, and the symbolism of each individual flower. The project is inspired by the old masters when it comes to the use of light and colour.
I haven’t published any of the work yet, and since this is a new direction in my photography I am both terrified and curious about how it will be received by my audience.
What is your next project or assignment?
I have already planned out my next project. I experienced a medical trauma with my daughter a few years back. It was a major shock and I still haven’t fully recovered from it. She is fine today, but the whole experience made me aware of how fast our life can change and it even made it difficult for me to trust my body. I started to fear disease which is totally unlike me. I want to explore this topic further with this project. Who knows, maybe it can help me get some closure from the trauma I experienced.
Are there any photographers whose work/style you admire?
I have been admiring the work of Sally Mann since I was a teenager. I also admire the work of Gregory Crewdson, Francesca Woodman, Julia Fullerton-Batten and Laura Makabresku. My work is also influenced by paintings. Some of my favourite painters are Henrik Uldalen, Arthit (Gank) Pansuay, Odd Nerdrum and Mitch Griffiths.
What is your favourite memory of your experiences?
I have so many great memories, so it is hard to pick only one. I often use my children as models in my work, and creating art with them is awesome. I created a project called “Utopia” with my daughter. The project is about gender equality. We talked about how women have been, and are still treated differently than men. We brainstormed ideas together and it was a very educational experience for her, which is really great.
What’s the biggest photographic challenge you overcame?
The biggest challenge has actually been to work with self-portraiture out in public. Often people start filming me with their cell phones, which I find extremely uncomfortable. I have learned to block it out and focus on the work, but it still stresses me out when I see people reach for their phone.
What’s in your camera bag?
I have Canon 5D mark iii and a Canon 5D mark ii. My favourite lenses are my 85 mm f/2.2 Petzval brass lens and my Tamron 24 – 70 mm f/2.8.
What photographic equipment would you never leave home without?
I always bring my Canon remote control, a tripod and extra batteries.
What advice you would give anyone who is starting out?
My advice is to be committed. You have to invest time and money into your projects. Also, stay true to your own style, be patient and get your work out there!
Any pitfalls they should avoid?
Vanity galleries! I have made a few mistakes and paid a gallery up front to get my work shown. Later on, I have learned that you should avoid those kinds of galleries. Not only do they look bad on your CV, but it can also be a huge waste of money. The gallerist has already been paid, so why should he or she put an effort into selling your work?
Lastly… if you weren’t a photographer what would you be doing?
When I was younger I wanted to be a paramedic. The only problem is that I faint when I see blood, so I think I’ll stick to photography.
Note from Maren Klemp:
The images in this article are from my “Northern Gothic” collection. A collection of self-portraits in addition to a portrait of my daughter. The connection between the human mind and nature is a reoccurring theme in my work. I grew up surrounded by the harsh but hauntingly beautiful Norwegian nature and with this body of work I wanted to explore how my surroundings have affected me.
The contrast between the long, cold and dark winters and the midnight sun of the Norwegian summer is strong. There is hardly anything in the middle. The struggles with deep depressions during the winters because of lack of light and insomnia during the bright summer nights are parts of my upbringing.
The colour red is a common thread that binds several of the images together. It represents my bloodline, flesh and roots that interacts with the bleak Nordic landscape.
To see more of Maren’s work visit her website
You can follow her of her Facebook page
All images by Maren Klemp. All rights reserved. No usage anywhere online or in print without permission.
Interview by Kav Dadfar.
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