Gabriel Isak’s Surreal But Simplistic Images


All images by Gabriel Isak. Used with permission.

“My imagery entails surreal and melancholic scenes inspired by the inner world of dreams and psychology, where I invite the viewer to interact with the internal world of solitary figures that symbolize our own unconscious states,” says photographer Gabriel Isak about his work. “The objective of my work is to reflect human experiences that will allow the spectator to reflect on their own journey.”

Gabe specializes in fine art and surreal photography and he tries to use photography as a metaphor for what he calls “experiences of the soul.” He tries to do this by creating photographs that are simple in form, but rich in ideas and emotions.

Though he puts lots planning into his work, he also says that it’s still overall affected by his mood.

Phoblographer: Talk to us about how you got into photography.

After Life

Gabriel: I received a small compact camera from my Father when I was younger and it quickly turned into a medium that I used to document the world around me. After a while I bought myself my first DSLR camera and began to create self-portraits, which is what slowly got me into experimenting more with conceptual photography.

Phoblographer: What got you into creating surreal portraits?


Gabriel: From the very beginning I have been inspired by surrealism and the world beyond this one. I tend to explore dreams and the unconscious mind a lot in my photography and I find it very fascinating to create scenes that only exist in the images and not in reality.

Phoblographer: Lots of photographers in the Fine Art Genre try to express themselves creatively. What do you feel you’re trying to express in your surreal images?


Gabriel: To me, photography is a medium that I use to translate common human experience that will allow the spectators to reflect on their own journey. It allows me to play around with metaphors in my work and to create surreal scenes where the viewer can interact with the internal world of my subjects that symbolize our own unconscious states.

Phoblographer: As you’re creating images, what influences your creative decisions?

Discovery at Dawn

Gabriel: Most of my work is quite planned in advance since key factors such as the location, weather and finding the subject takes some time to prepare. My creative decisions depend upon what mood and story I am trying to portray in my imagery – and that is usually my starting point. However there are times when what I have planned does not work out, and that is usually where either the location or subject inspire me to bring the story I am trying to capture into a new direction.

Phoblographer: Talk to us about how you create the images, how much storyboarding is involved and how do you usually communicate with your model?


Gabriel: I always start out with asking myself what story I want to create. From there I begin to brainstorm with words before I sketch out how I visualize the final image. Sometimes research is involved as well before I begin with the brainstorming, depending on what I am creating. If it is going to be a composite I write down the order in which I will photograph the different images that later will be combined in post. I then decide for the location and plan it out accordingly to the weather. Once on location I explain the story I am trying to capture to my model with the help of reference images and my sketches. In the end, I bring the images together in post (again if it is a composite) and then work on the light and color adjustments.

Phoblographer: Talk to us about the gear that you use.

The Illumination in the Dark

Gabriel: I use a Canon 5DIII, a 50mm 1.4 lens, a 3 Legged Thing tripod and a self-timer.

Phoblographer: Where do you tend to find your inspiration?

Gabriel: I have always been fascinated by the world we travel to in our dreams and the unconscious mind and draw a lot of influences from the psychological world in my work. I also find most of my inspiration from the cinema world, paintings, the surrealists and my roots in Sweden.

'Leaving Earth'

Phoblographer: What’s the overall goal with your work? Galleries? A book? Commercial stuff?

Gabriel: My first goal is to showcase my work in galleries and to continue to produce larger and more diverse bodies of work. I want to continue to experiment with different mediums and get into the motion world more. As of now this is my biggest focus and to complete my Bachelor’s degree in Photography by the end of next year. From there on we’ll see, and I am very excited to see where life will bring me.








Chris Gampat

Chris Gampat is the Editor in Chief, Founder, and Publisher of the Phoblographer. He also likes pizza.