From the very first instant that I looked through the viewfinder, I was captivated by the frame. The endless possibilities of composition, light and to shift focus.
In many ways I think of an image as a concentration of life within borders. There are unlimited ways to choose what to put in, and what to leave out. Already when I pick up the camera I usually know exactly what the final image should look and feel like. Not just the framing but also in terms of color, contrast, even down to the exact character of the paper if it´s going to be a print. When shooting landscapes for art I rarely take a second shot or a second angle. It´s mostly first and only take. When shooting for stock it´s different. The purpose is different and the stock agency needs a few shots to pick from to satisfy their clients. It´s also different mindsets so I seldom shoot art and stock on the same day. I often get questions about that. Many people seems to think that it´s about to get “the best photo possible” under certain circumstances. But there is nothing like “the best photo”. Images are a language, and it´s very different to write poems or to write for an ad. What makes a really good photographer is when you can adapt your imagery. But still, I put myself and my vision in every single image I do.
I do photography every single day, 365 days a year. Not being able to make images makes me fell mute. It´s important that pictures tell something, just to catch beauty makes images gets boring. You absolutely need to tell something, it´s just the same as you can´t just say nice words with no meaning. To me photography is a mindset where I move freely, emotionally connected with the moment, site and setting. Even in the most intense blizzards I just have to move the camera to my eye to feel totally relaxed, silence in my head, the harsh surroundings suddenly as peaceful as a meadow on a warm windless summer night.
“Ackelman´s exquisite landscapes and nature studies are alight with a luminous wonder, gracefully bringing together a skilled sensitivity for complexity and detail with a deeply felt reverence for the emotional connections of his works” (Quote from Agora Gallery NYC)
I love landscapes, pristine as well as farmland and more urban areas. I´ve always had a special interest in how environment initially formed early cultures and then how culture and landscape evolved together. Originally the possibilities was set by the landscape, the development gradually changed, step by step, our world to where we are today. Development is vital but never without problems. I love to make images on the border, for example where cities meets nature, the development areas. It also raises the question of care, every act and decision made today has an impact on our future environment. In my images I do not take a stand in what´s good or bad, I´m more interested in the complexity, knowing there are no easy answers. No matter my motive, my aim is to touch the human mind.
“Amidst a plethora of art, Mikael Ackelman manages to say something very different.” (ArtPlatform NYC)
I hear people talk about how to find inspiration. To me it´s never like that as new ideas constantly appears in my head. I´m always inspired. My problem is rather the opposite; I´ve got to many ideas, it often feels like I´m in the middle of a waterfall of inspiration, longing for a small creek of inspiration so I have time to handle emerging ideas. So no, I never look for inspiration. What´s important though is to find new influences. I want my work to evolve and take new bearings. Of course I look a lot at photography as well as different kinds of art, music is vital to me and I got a special preference for brilliant instrumentalists. I find influences everywhere. Since I work on images every day my senses is always wide open, catching time and contemporary flow.
I never think of technical issues while photographing, it all comes natural. I just do it, maybe subconsciously, but to set aperture and shutter-speed, in some way I just know. I always work with everything set manual. I just feel what´s right. When playing an instrument you´re not able to think between notes, it has comes natural, my relation to my equipment works the same way.
Important step for me as a photographer was illustrating a book on human core emotional needs. We made 18 images, one for each need, and every image was tested, accordingly to the text, on a group of 70 people. To be able to create a specific feeling inside the viewer I really had to explore and understand how various people “read” images and what makes us relate emotionally to a photo. That lead to a new kind of understanding for me that has an impact on everything I do today.
Right now I´ve just finished a couple of exhibitions and are on the shelf of deciding what to do nest. I know what I want to do, but all are not put in the schedule yet. During the forthcoming year I´ve will be photographing in New England, US, during mid spring as I will be in NYC when some of my images take part in an exhibition. I think there will be a couple of other trips but nothing is decided yet. At the moment I also is in the planning for a couple of workshops on landscape and light. I´m working on a book but still have to find the time to put it together. There are always more ideas than time.
Mikael Ackelman was born (1966) in Oxelösund, Sweden and now living in the countryside near Nyköping where the scenic beauty and energy of the coast and forests fuels his works, Ackelman has been a dedicated photographer from an early age and today is recognized for his works in exhibits and publications. He also excels in natural science, having received degrees in mathematics, physics and biology. Mikael is working full-time as a photographer and artist. [Official Website]