Daniel Fjäll: “Photography Isn’t Instagram…”

All images by Daniel Fjäll. Used with permission.

“Photography isn’t Instagram,” says Photographer Daniel Fjäll. “I think it’s important people try something new and break away from the trends. Think for themselves. That’s when the good stuff comes to you. I hope some of my pictures will spark someone’s inspiration. Also that you can still do photography even if you don’t travel the world if you work with what you got.”

Why did you get into photography?

I picked up photography after my dad put his camera on the shelf. Mainly to continue documenting our travels but I soon realized there was a lot more than just documenting after scratching the surface. I saw what other people were doing with it and ever since then my passion has been to pursue my goal of someday being really good at photography.

What photographers are your biggest influences?

Almost all my inspiration these days are from various photographers on Instagram. These kids that make you go ‘How come I didn’t think of that..?’ and ‘That’s genius!’. People that ignore all the rules and do their own style get to me the most. No photographer got famous by copying somebody else. Don’t be the coverband.

How long have you been shooting?

I bought a phone back in 2004 that had a camera. Horrible by all standards but it got me introduced to composition and light. My first real camera I got in 2009 when I was 19 but I bought my first ‘real camera’ (a DSLR) back in 2010 and I’ve been in love with the struggle since then.

Why is photography and shooting so important to you?

For me personally it’s about communicating your vision on life itself. I’ve always been observant of my surroundings and the camera is the perfect tool between me and my momentary observation. The fact that you can freeze that observation and share it with the world instantly is incredible. It’s a medium that is as clear as any language if you just put all of yourself into it.

Do you feel that you’re more of a creator or a documenter? Why?

A bit of both I’d say. Perhaps somewhat more a creator. Visually pleasing matter tingles the artsy fartsy in me. I sometimes shoot for the pure aesthetics but sometimes just looking for a expression in a portrait.

What’s typically going through your mind when you create images? Tell us about your processes both mentally and mechanically?

I’m naturally drawn to light. I get a good size meal and go walking around searching for good spots. But a good spot alone doesn’t suffice. It needs layers. A sunset without an interesting foreground is just another sunset. My head is on overdrive when trying to figure out what the heck I’m supposed to do.

Want to walk us through your processing techniques?

I shoot film so I don’t really edit my pictures. I grab a certain film and I’m stuck on that decision. If I grab a roll of black & white film I don’t have to consider colour in my observations. Eliminating options are often limiting, but within limitations creativity thrives. Trying to get it right in the camera and do as little processing as possible has always been rewarding.

Tell us about the project that you’re pitching, or your portfolio.

Like it says in my Instagram bio; The extra in the ordinary. I’m always looking for the ordinary with a twist or an extra layer of ‘oh/ah’. I try showing people what they’ve seen before but in a different way. The way I see it. My portfolio is a mess with a mix of everything but there’s a overall theme. Keep it simple.

What made you want to get into your genre?

Unlike let’s say a landscape photographer I don’t travel around much. At least not enough to categorize myself as such. Finding the beauty in the mundane is challenging. If it’s easy I get bored. I’m the most active in that landscape and I try to work with what I got.

Tell us a bit about the gear that you use and how you feel it helps you achieve your creative vision.

I got a whole shelf of cameras and lenses for certain stuff but my main camera is an old Leica rangefinder camera. It’s the most basic thing you could imagine. It doesn’t even need batteries. But I know it like the back of my hand. It never gets in the way of me and my subject. If I end up with a messed up exposure – I blame myself and not the camera. My favourite lens is my 35mm Summicron for the same camera. Super small and good for almost everything I shoot.

What motivates you to shoot?

It’s my escapism, my meditation. Photography is hard. If I keep getting good images I move on to try something new. It teaches me to observe my surroundings in yet a new way. When I get my pictures back from the lab and I see something I really like it gives me motivation to get out there and try to top that.

Cameras:

Leica M4-P

Rolleiflex 3.5f

Polaroid Land Camera 180

Olympus XA/XA4

Yashica T5D

Rollei 35 S

Nishika N8000

Canon Canonet QL17 GIII

Lenses:

Leica Summicron 35mm f/2.0  V4

Leica Summicron 50mm f/2.0 Rigid

Carl Zeiss Sonnar 50mm f/1.5 (Post War)

Other:

Nikon SB800 flash

Fujifilm EF-X20 flash

Gorillapod

Pakon f135 scanner

Epson V800 scanner