All images by Maren Elize Klemp. Used with permission.
Photographer Maren Elize Klemp is a fine art photographer based in Oslo, Norway. She specializes in self portraiture, black and white photography and vintage photographic equipment that infuses her images with a timeless dimension. The purpose: raising awareness of mental health. To do this, lots of her work delves into the darker side of the mind and feature characters is darkness and isolation.
In fact, Maren has always been drawn to dark art.
Phoblographer: Talk to us about how you got into photography.
Maren: When I was a teenager I had a passion for writing poetry and short stories, but I also had an urge to express myself visually. I have no talent for either drawing or painting, so when my father bought me my first camera at the age of seventeen, I immediately knew that I wanted to become a photographer. At seventeen I dropped out of high school and started an internship as a photographer in the local newspaper. I soon realized that I was more interested in the field of fine art photography than in photo-journalism, so I quit my internship in order to study fine art photography under professor Robert Meyer at Robert Meyer Kunsthøgskole in Oslo.
Phoblographer: How did you get into surreal fine art portraiture?
Maren: I have always been drawn to the beauty in darkness and the genre of “dark art.” I also like to tell stories through my images, and just like my writing, those stories are a bit quirky and surreal. After I discovered self portraiture it made it easier to tell those stories because it gave me full creative control over the image.
Phoblographer: You do lots of black and white work though you indeed have some color work too. What makes to choose one over the other?
Maren: I prefer to work with black and white, and I even “see” the world as a black and white photograph, although sometimes the picture speaks to me in colors even if my intension was to convert it to black and white. I can’t explain why, but I always listen to that voice.
Phoblographer: Your ideas are not only unique, but incredibly well executed. Where do you get your inspiration from?
Maren: My main inspiration is nature and it’s link to the human mind. I go for walks in the woods together with my dog for hours every day, and the images comes to me during these walks. I also draw inspiration from movies, music and literature.
Phoblographer: How do you go about working with your subjects communicating what you want to them? Do you storyboard at all?
Maren: The recent years I have only used myself and my children as models, and we make a great creative team. They know exactly what I want them to do, and they look amazing in front of the camera. My images are very personal to me, and it feels natural using myself and the children as models. I find it easier to capture the mood and expressions that I want my images to have by working with self portraiture, and it is also very convenient because I am always available and ready for shoots.
I am a frequent user of storyboards. I draw sketches and makes notes of location, technique and post-production. I find it much easier to get the results that I want to working this way.
Phoblographer: What do you feel you’re generally trying to creatively express in your art?
Maren: 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.