Interview: Christian Hoiberg

Christian Hoiberg

Landscape Photography

Tell us a little about yourself

My name is Christian Hoiberg and I’m a fulltime landscape photographer from Norway. I’m currently spending a few months in Northern Spain where I’m focusing on the unique seascapes and picturesque mountains. My photography is focused around the outdoors and I prefer to shoot scenes that are slightly dramatic. However, I’m happy as long as I’m outside with my camera.

How did you get into landscape photography?

I’ve always been fascinated with photography and I remember that I used to steal my mother’s camera when I was a kid. I often had a disposable camera as a kid but at the age of 15 I bought my first DSLR camera after working for a local electronic shop. After that my interest kept growing and I started enjoying the outdoors more and more as well. I would often come home after school and bring my camera with me for hikes in the nearby forests and as I got older I started exploring regions further away as well.

Are there any other genres of photography you practice?

I photograph mainly the outdoors, but I also have my camera close by when exploring new cities and cultures.

What does photography mean to you?

While it might sound like a cliché, photography is the most important thing to me besides family and friends. Photography is on my mind all the time and mostly anything I do is related to it. In fact, it’s come to the point where I can’t enjoy a beautiful sunset unless I have my camera with me (which isn’t necessarily a good thing).

Photography has been a distraction from stress and it has got me through tougher periods in life. It’s also motivated me to work harder in different aspects of life and by doing so I’m now able to do it full-time. I honestly don’t know what I would do without photography as I’ve spent many years working hard to make it a part of my life.

What do you wish to convey with your imagery? How do you make sure your images convey this properly?

When people view my photography, I want them to feel that they are at that location in person. Unfortunately, many aren’t able to explore nature by themselves and many have a great deal of stress in their lives, so I hope that viewing my pictures will make them take a moment to relax and even inspire them to go out into the wilderness themselves.

It’s hard to say how I make sure that all my images convey this properly but it’s rare that I include any human elements in my images, so you do get a sense of the natural wonder or wilderness.

What is your current favorite photograph? What do you like about it most?

I honestly don’t have one favorite photograph from either myself or others. There are many inspiring images captured by great photographers and it’s impossible to choose one. It’s also impossible to choose only one image of my own as they each have different stories and are special to me in each their way.

It might also be because I’m never 100% happy with an image and always look for things to improve either in post-production or composition.

Do you believe there is a way for photographers to help the world become a better place? How so?

I’m not sure I would go as far as to say that photographers can help the world become a better place, but I believe that we can create awareness about our planet. By photographing nature, we can remind people of the beauty that surrounds us and even put light on how we as a species are damaging it.

During a trip to Greenland earlier this year I had a long talk with our captain about how much the place has changed only the last 15 years. The ice is melting at an alarming rate and the temperatures are drastically warmer than they used to be in winter. I knew this from before but being there and seeing the change in person really made an impact on me – and I hope that I’m able to make others aware about this through my photography as well.

Do you travel far from home or stay close more often?

I love traveling and most of my portfolio is captured from other places than my hometown. I’m not from the most photogenic place in Norway but it’s been a great playground where I’ve learnt to master my camera.

What advice would you give to yourself if you could turn back time?

I would warn myself about Skagsanden Beach in Lofoten and make sure that I didn’t drop my camera in the ocean there!

Seriously, though, I would tell myself to focus on the fundamentals of photography already from the beginning. I spent way too much running around with Automatic mode and would have benefited from learning the basics earlier.

Tell us about your photography techniques and the post processing of your photos.

I don’t really have one technique either in-camera or for processing that I follow. I typically spend some time at a location analyzing the scene and thinking about what I can do to convey my feelings then and there. Often it involves the use of a slower shutter speed (either it’s 0.5 seconds or 2 minutes) but it really depends on the scene.

For post processing, I spend some time working with local adjustments by using luminosity masks. These adjustments are normally color balance and contrast and I also work a little with the overall mood. I rarely do a lot and I try to get most done in the camera and then in post processing I’ll enhance what I experienced.

In your opinion, will photography become overly populated to the point where professionals can no longer get jobs/make a living?

It’s definitely not an easy or comfortable way of living and you’ll have to take a lot of risks, but it is worth it. There are so many photographers today and that does make it harder to make a living of it, but I believe that if you work hard enough for it, you will succeed.

Where do you find inspiration to keep shooting, even when things get tough?

Just being outside is inspiration for me. Whenever I’m struggling to find motivation to process, write or do other business-related work, it’s helpful to take the camera and go for a hike or even just a sunset at a nearby beach. Fresh air and quiet surroundings always helps.

At what point do you feel a photographer is experienced enough to run workshops or teach other photographers?

Another tough question. I don’t think there’s a magical line you cross and suddenly become experienced enough. Some photographers are extremely skilled after only a year while others have been photographing for decades and still don’t know enough to teach. The most important is that you’re confident in your knowledge and that you’re teaching correctly. If you’re not comfortable talking about ISO, Shutter Speed, Aperture, Compositions, Light etc. you’re not ready to teach it to others.

How important is having a good website?

I don’t necessarily believe it’s important to have a good website, but you should at least have somewhere online where you can show your portfolio, either this is a professionally built website, a 500px gallery or a simple blog.

In fact, some of my favorite photographers have really bad websites but their portfolios are there, and they are relatively easy to navigate around. At the end of the day, your images should be able to speak for themselves.

If you could only take one more picture, what do you think it would be of? How would you begin to make that decision?

Tough question! If I only could take one more image I would make sure that it’s a unique image from a location that haven’t been photographed before. I would spend a lot of effort researching, scouting, hiking and travelling until I found a remote place few have been before. It might not be essential for the image that it’s captured in a remote area but that would be more for personal reasons as I do enjoy the adventurous part of outdoor photography as well.

Most likely it would involve a mountain, harsh conditions and interesting light. Since it would be the last image I take, I would make sure that it tells a story not only about that exact moment but also about the effort in capturing it.

If you enjoyed this interview with Christian, be sure to check out his website (www.choiberg.com) and definitely look at his blog (www.capturedlandscapes.com) for some amazing advice!