Tommy Ingberg — Photo Montages

It gives me great plea­sure to announce that our pho­tog­ra­phy blog will be fea­tur­ing inter­views and the pho­tog­ra­phy of some of the extremely tal­ented pho­tog­ra­phers from Adore Noir Mag­a­zine. Adore Noir mag­a­zine is pub­lished online from Van­cou­ver, B.C. Canada and is ded­i­cated to fine art black and white pho­tog­ra­phy. This inter­view fea­tures Tommy Ing­berg, a Swedish fine art pho­tog­ra­pher who spe­cial­izes in photo montages.

Photography by Tommy Ingberg

Pho­tog­ra­phy by Tommy Ingberg


AN: Please intro­duce your­self. Where do you live?

TI: My name is Tommy Ing­berg. I am 32 years old and live in Upp­lands Väsby, just north of Stock­holm, Sweden.

AN: When and how did you get into photography?

TI: I have been pre­oc­cu­pied with pho­tog­ra­phy as long as I can remem­ber. When I was 15 years old I got my first sys­tem cam­era, a Prak­tica with two lenses. It had no aut­o­fo­cus and the meter­ing did not work. I spent end­less hours exper­i­ment­ing and shoot­ing as much film as I could afford. It was then I really decided that I wanted to do pho­tog­ra­phy. I needed a way to express myself, and instead of play­ing in a band, paint­ing or writ­ing, I chose pho­tog­ra­phy. What fol­lowed were sev­eral years of inten­sive pho­tog­ra­phy but it was when I could afford a dig­i­tal cam­era that I really started to develop. Thanks to the fact that I could see the result directly in the cam­era, the whole process of trial and error was speeded up tremen­dously by not hav­ing to wait for the pic­tures to come back from the lab.

Since then I have tried sev­eral areas of pho­tog­ra­phy, por­traits, con­cert pho­tog­ra­phy, street pho­tog­ra­phy, nature pho­tog­ra­phy and every­thing in between. I can’t tell you why I chose pho­tog­ra­phy, but there is some­thing about it that really speaks to me. Even nowa­days I can still feel that excite­ment when I know that I just cap­tured a great pic­ture, often when some­thing unex­pected hap­pens in front of the cam­era. No mat­ter how well you plan your shoots, there is still an ele­ment of chance involved, and I love that about photography.

AN: What sparked your inter­est in photo montages?

TI: I have always grav­i­tated more towards art pho­tog­ra­phy than doc­u­men­tary pho­tog­ra­phy. When look­ing back at my old pic­tures I can see how my cur­rent style of imagery slowly but surely matured into what it is today. Sub­con­sciously it’s been there the whole time in terms of light­ing and the choice of a motive. Dur­ing all the years I have pho­tographed I have con­stantly been look­ing for my own expres­sion, but it always felt like a piece of the puz­zle was miss­ing. It never really“clicked”. The motives I sought sim­ply didn’t exist, at least not in real­ity. I could not really tell the sto­ries I wanted to with just the camera.

About three years ago I made a series of pic­tures where I mixed street pho­tog­ra­phy with some edit­ing; such as crop­ping, selec­tively blur­ring parts of the images and adding tex­tures to them. By cross­ing the line into heavy image edit­ing I was able to tell a coher­ent story. Encour­aged by the result I started exper­i­ment­ing with pure photo-montages and it was then when I allowed the images to really grow beyond the cam­era that the pieces fell into place, and I could refine my style fur­ther. That was a great feel­ing, to finally find “my” kind of expression.

Photography by Tommy Ingberg

Pho­tog­ra­phy by Tommy Ingberg


AN: Do you plan your images in advance or is it spontaneous?

TI: For me cre­ativ­ity does not come easy. I can’t just sit around and wait for an idea. It is hard work and a lot of trial and error. Some­times I can work for weeks and only pro­duce pic­tures that go straight into the garbage bin, but I know that if I keep work­ing, just keep tak­ing pic­tures and mak­ing mon­tages, I will even­tu­ally get a result I am happy with. I have found that if I keep my mind focused on cre­at­ing it will even­tu­ally get the pieces together and pro­duce a good idea for a pic­ture. Often the good ideas appear when I take a break from the cre­ative work and let my sub­con­scious take over. I find this to be a good solu­tion for all kinds of prob­lem solv­ing, not just cre­ative. When I have a solid idea I start work­ing by cre­at­ing a sketch on paper, pho­tograph­ing the pic­tures I need, and make a rough first draft on the com­puter. Some­times I need to do this a cou­ple of times before I’m happy with it and pro­ceed to make the final composite.

I’ve been pho­tograph­ing dig­i­tally long before I started doing mon­tages, and since I never really throw any image files away I have a huge archive of stock images I can use in my mon­tages. Nowa­days I also shoot gen­eral stock images for use in future mon­tages. When doing a com­pos­ite, I often com­bine images from my archive with pic­tures shot specif­i­cally for the mon­tage I’m work­ing on. Typ­i­cally I shoot my main sub­jects in a stu­dio with con­trolled light­ing, or if too large to fit in a stu­dio, out­side dur­ing an over­cast day and com­bine them with pic­tures from my archive. Even though I do cre­ate spon­ta­neous com­pos­ites out of just images in my photo archive, I find that the results are often bet­ter if I shoot with a spe­cific idea in mind.

AN: Tell us about your Real­ity Rearranged series.

TI: For me, sur­re­al­ism is about try­ing to explain some­thing abstract like a feel­ing or a thought, express­ing the sub­con­scious with a pic­ture. The Real­ity Rearranged series is my first try atde­scrib­ing real­ity through sur­re­al­ism. Dur­ing the two and a half years I have worked on the series I have used my own inner life, thoughts and feel­ings as seeds to my pic­tures. In that sense the work is very per­sonal, almost like a visual diary. Despite this sub­jec­tive­ness in the process I hope that the work can engage the viewer in hers or his own terms. I want the viewer to pro­duce their own ques­tions and answers when look­ing at the pic­tures, my own inter­pre­ta­tions are really irrel­e­vant in this context.

AN: What feel­ings are you try­ing to con­vey to your viewers?

TI: My images cover a wide spec­trum of emo­tions and basic human self-reflection that I think we all deal with. I often have a very spe­cific feel­ing or thought in mind when I cre­ate an image, but I try to get some dis­tance from it before I start work­ing on the image, oth­er­wise I have found that the result gets a lit­tle too straight for­ward and blunt. A bit of dis­tance helps me cre­ate calmer images with more sub­dued emo­tion and com­men­tary. I feel that an image works best if there is some ambi­gu­ity to it. I try to make my images ask ques­tions rather than answer­ing them. I think it is very inter­est­ing to hear dif­fer­ent people’s inter­pre­ta­tions of my images, even if it’s an inter­pre­ta­tion I can’t relate to. I think one of the main char­ac­ter­is­tics of sur­re­al­ism is that it forces the viewer to think.

Photography by Tommy Ingberg

Pho­tog­ra­phy by Tommy Ingberg


AN: What inspires you?

TI: That varies. Some­times it’s a sim­ple object. For instance, I found this really awe­some hat that inspired me to make a pic­ture. I saw it a cou­ple of weeks ago and had it in the back of my mind for a while before I devel­oped an idea and today I took it home to pho­to­graph it. I read a lot and watch lots of movies and find inspi­ra­tion in that. Lately I’ve also been try­ing to read poetry. My main source of inspi­ra­tion though is music. I always lis­ten to music and could really not imag­ine life with­out it. Despite movies, music, books and other exter­nal sources of inspi­ra­tion I still feel that I need inspi­ra­tion from inside myself, my life and my expe­ri­ences. I need to have some­thing to say that comes from within; oth­er­wise there is no real point in cre­at­ing. I would just be re-telling some­one else’s story, cre­at­ing mean­ing­less, empty imagery.

AN: What are your influences?

TI: Since I’ve tried so many types of pho­tog­ra­phy my influ­ences have been many and diverse, from clas­sic pho­tog­ra­phy and arts, rather than from dig­i­tal art. Early on it was the great mas­ters of pho­tog­ra­phy like Cartier-Bresson, Lei­boviz, Erwitt, Bras­sai and so on — too many to name. I con­sumed a lot of pho­tog­ra­phy and had new favourites every day. When I started doing pho­tomon­tages I started to learn more about the great painters and artists from other fields, like Warhol, Picasso, Magritte, Miró and Escher. I have learned a lot by study­ing great­ness in all fields of art includ­ing music, pho­tog­ra­phy, paint­ing, poetry or any­thing else. It is very hum­bling to look at your own work in that con­text.
AN: Do you have any cur­rent projects on the go?

I am still work­ing on my Real­ity Rearranged series, and plan to fin­ish it this year. I am also work­ing on a series that I call­Stranger. With that series I will con­tinue doing sur­re­al­ism but with more com­plex sto­ries, and with a more com­plex style of imagery. I have also tried to mix in more real­ism, and a dif­fer­ent style draw­ing inspi­ra­tion from pic­to­ri­al­ism. As well I have some ideas and projects in early stages I’m work­ing on.

AN: What is your final say?
TI: Well, I don’t feel I am in a posi­tion to give advice to any­one, I am still early in my devel­op­ment as an artist, but if there is any­thing I’ve learned so far it is that you only have one shot at life, so try to spend as much time as pos­si­ble doing what you love.

Photography by Tommy Ingberg

Pho­tog­ra­phy by Tommy Ingberg


This inter­view and accom­pa­ny­ing images was reprinted with per­mis­sion from Adore Noir.
Adore Noir is a sub­scrip­tion based online pho­tog­ra­phy mag­a­zine spe­cial­iz­ing in awe­some fine art black and white photography.

120 — How to Create Interesting Stories Through Your Photography

Pho­tog­ra­phy pod­cast #120 pro­vides tips on how to cre­ate, craft and tell more inter­est­ing sto­ries through pho­tog­ra­phy.  Some of the aspects we talk about include being active with fram­ing, hunt­ing down the ges­tures and watch­ing the edges.

I’m super-pleased to wel­come  The Cam­era Store (The largest cam­era store in Cal­gary, Alberta, Canada)  as a spon­sor of The pod­cast! I’ve been buy­ing my own gear there and rec­om­mend­ing them for a few years now, and I’m a fussy bug­ger when it comes to both gear and rec­om­men­da­tions. Their cus­tomer ser­vice is sim­ply awe­some and I often find that they have the best prices in Canada. They ship all over Canada.


Both these images were taken within the same minute. The bottom image however, tells a stronger story due to the dramatic gesture of the axe in the air.

Both these images were taken within the same minute. The bot­tom image how­ever, tells a stronger story due to the dra­matic ges­ture of the axe in the air, the smoke com­ing from the side of the roof and the fire­man on the right of the roof that’s fac­ing the cam­era. The top image isn’t bad, but it eas­ily loses in a poker match when it goes head to head with the bot­tom image.


Meeting - I waited in my window and actively composed this scene last winter. There is a strong suggestion of story here because the person in the background appears to be waiting for the foreground woman. I clicked the shutter only when I felt the timing was right compositionally.

Winter’s Meet­ing — I waited in a win­dow and actively com­posed this scene last win­ter. There is a strong sug­ges­tion of story here because the per­son in the back­ground appears to be wait­ing for the fore­ground woman. I clicked the shut­ter only when I felt the tim­ing was right compositionally.


Links /resources men­tioned in this pod­cast:
Long expo­sure images — forum’s reg­u­lar assign­ment — July 2013
Macro pho­tog­ra­phy — forum’s level 2 assign­ment — June 2013
Lay­er­ing images with inter­est­ing ele­ments — Pho­tog­ra­phy pod­cast #102
Shoot in any light - Pho­tog­ra­phy pod­cast #100

If you liked this pod­cast and want to review it on Itunes, this link gets you to the main page

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Thanks to Ben W who posted a blog com­ment about our last pod­cast. Thanks as well to every­one that sent com­ments by email about our last pod­cast. Although ALL com­ments are appre­ci­ated, com­ment­ing directly in this blog is pre­ferred. Thanks as well to all the new mem­bers of the bul­letin board. Most of the links to actual the prod­ucts are affil­i­ate links that help sup­port this site. Thanks in advance if you pur­chase through those links.

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Thanks for lis­ten­ing and keep on shooting!

The Circus is in Town — Montréal Complètement Cirque

This week­end will be your last chance to catch Mon­tréal Com­plète­ment Cirque, which is a newish cir­cus fes­ti­val that got added to Montreal’s ros­ter of fes­ti­vals a few years ago. It’s loads of fun and a great addi­tion to the sum­mer fes­ti­vals in Mon­treal. I was lucky enough to see a few shows and I can tell you that there’s some­thing for every­one. There’s both free out­door shows as well as paid indoor shows. Last week I saw the indoor show Smashed Gan­dini Jug­gling which was a fab­u­lously whim­si­cal jug­gling per­for­mance by a team of British apple jug­glers wear­ing suits. It starts off com­pletely whole­some and gets slightly less whole­some through­out the rest of the jug­gling show (but remains whole­some enough for kids).

Last night I saw Pro­pa­ganda at Usine C and they were less than whole­some. It’s an eccen­tric 2 per­son acrobatic-theatrical show with female acro­bat Jo-Ann Lan­caster being top­less for about half the show. There’s skits, tits, trapeze, rope swing­ing, themes of servi­tude along with some cool fetishy out­fits, all served up in a dimly lit set with harsh light­ing. The audi­ence enjoyed it big time but I didn’t get it or find it very excit­ing. This week S Circa seems to be get­ting lots of buzz; I didn’t get to see them yet but Mon­treal Cuture guy Zeke reviewed them here.

Free out­door shows are a great way to soak up the cir­cusy zeit­geist and I got to see TOUR DE PISTE AU QUARTIER DES SPECTACLES: BABEL last week at the cor­ner of St. Hubert and Ste. Cather­ine. About 25 acro­batic per­form­ers jump, dance, strut, swing, bal­ance, tram­po­line, uni­cy­cle, and flip all around a few sto­ries of scaf­fold­ing in Place Emi­lie Gamelin. Fun stuff for the whole fam­ily and still going on for the rest of the week.


Babel - Place Emilie Gamelin- Montréal Complètement Cirque

Babel — Place Emi­lie Gamelin– Mon­tréal Com­plète­ment Cirque


Smashed Gandini Juggling - Montréal Complètement Cirque

Smashed Gan­dini Jug­gling — Mon­tréal Com­plète­ment Cirque


Montréal Complètement Cirque

Smashed Gan­dini Jug­gling — Mon­tréal Com­plète­ment Cirque

Photography forum image of the month – June 2013

Hi Photo lovers!

Every month on our pho­tog­ra­phy forum mem­bers nom­i­nate images that they like. Then at the end of the month I choose an excel­lent image and talk about why it rocks. The photo I choose is not nec­es­sar­ily the best one of the month. I’ve come to real­ize it’s not really log­i­cal to pit images from totally dif­fer­ent gen­res against each other. That’s why there are cat­e­gories in photo con­tests. I just choose a photo that has extremely strong ele­ments that we can learn from.

Just so it’s clear, the photo I choose is not nec­es­sar­ily the best one of the month. I’ve come to real­ize it’s not really log­i­cal to pit images from totally dif­fer­ent gen­res against each other. That’s why there are cat­e­gories in photo contests. 

My goal is to sim­ply choose an excel­lent photo and talk about why I think it rocks. This month was another crazy hard month though as the nom­i­na­tions from dif­fer­ent gen­res were of very high quality.

This month’s choice is Fos­ter­ing by Mike Bons Fos­ter­ing.

Fostering by Mike Bons

Fos­ter­ing by Mike Bons


I chose this image for a few reasons:

1 — Focal point sharp­ness and deci­sive moment — Look at the sharp­ness on the eye of the baby bird, it’s just gor­geous. The tim­ing is equally gor­geous; the hummingbird’s beak is inside the chick’s mouth and we can see a hint of a bug. The hummingbird’s legs are won­der­fully frozen. Mike explains in his post that he used a ‘trig­ger­trap’ to trig­ger the shut­ter from yards away and I just love the use of this new tech­nol­ogy to help us make bet­ter images. I also applaud the ded­i­ca­tion to set­ting this all up and wait­ing patiently.

2– Com­po­si­tion — Fram­ing here is bang on as is the guid­ing of our eyes which go right to the chick. I really like the shape of the hummingbird’s blurred wings. I also like the leaves that are included at the oppo­site side of the frame and the free space around the hummingbird.

3 — Shut­ter speed — Won­der­ful choice of high shut­ter speed to get sharp­ness like that on the chick and the frozen hum­ming­bird legs. The motion-blurred hum­ming­bird wings add to this image big­time and are a tes­ta­ment to how fast that lit­tle bug­ger flaps its wings per second.

For all these rea­sons, this is my choice for image of the month. Since we all have opin­ions, some mem­bers may dis­agree with my choice. That’s cool but THIS thread is not the place for debate over my pick, NOR is it the place to fur­ther cri­tique the image. The pur­pose here is to sug­gest strong ele­ments in the photo that we may learn from.

Con­grats Mike Bons!

The Montreal Jazz Fest — Mucca Pazza invades

Hi every­one,

I’ve added a new cat­e­gory to the blog called Mon­treal art, pho­tog­ra­phy and cul­ture and I’ll use it to cover some of the cooler events in this fes­ti­val city that I call home. Even if you can’t make it to Montreal’s world class fes­ti­vals, hope­fully this new pho­tog­ra­phy blog cat­e­gory can turn you on to some­thing new.

This week the world famous Mon­treal Inter­na­tional Jazz fes­ti­val is in town and it fea­tures hun­dreds of world class musi­cal acts and street per­for­mances. The Jazz fes­ti­val is one of the best fes­ti­vals in our city and I attend almost every year. This year a friend of mine, Mon­treal Cul­ture Guy Chris ‘Zeke’ hand, invited me to see a 30 piece Chicago Hip­ster march­ing band called Mucca Pazza. They were so fab that I saw them twice. Had I had more time I would have gone again.

This band INSTANTLY makes you smile and makes your brain release endor­phins. Just try not to smile when you see them, I dare you!  Instead of tak­ing Prozac, just watch Mucca Pazza.

The music is a jazz-based fusion to my ear and is per­formed extremely well —  in  ‘we do not take our­selves seri­ously for even a nanosec­ond’ disco meets the civil war cos­tum­ing. The chore­og­ra­phy is crazy fun as well with cheer­lead­ers lit­er­ally thrown into the mix. Did I say this is the most fun I’ve had at the  Mon­treal Jazz fest in years? Well it is!

Mucca Pazza at the Montreal Jazz fest

Mucca Pazza at the Mon­treal Jazz fest


Mucca Pazza at the Montreal Jazz fest

Mucca Pazza at the Mon­treal Jazz fest


Mucca Pazza at the Montreal Jazz fest

Mucca Pazza at the Mon­treal Jazz fest

Mucca Pazza at the Montreal Jazz fest

Mucca Pazza at the Mon­treal Jazz fest

Mucca Pazza at the Montreal Jazz fest

Mucca Pazza at the Mon­treal Jazz fest