Pål HermansenNationality: Norway
My art is an ever-ongoing exploration of the world, the nature - and the pulses of all forms of life. My fascination is that the objective existence always is modulated by the artist´s personal experiences, attitude and mood on the day of the creation of the work. In earlier years, I started on a career in science, but I felt impatient and dissatisfied with the slow progress. Instead I realized that I wanted to develop my interest for photography and use this as as a tool to explore the world. Photography is not only a tool for aesthetic interpretation, but also for building a respect for our surroundings. I think that mankind needs to build a humbler attitude towards nature, as we are an integral part of it. During the last decades, I see that I repeatedly return to the relations between man and nature in my photography.
My own deep relation to nature was built in the years of childhood, and my environmental consciousness has been a strong force. Today’s deprivation of nature and seeing the number of living creatures going down every year creates a kind of grieving process in me. I find inspiration in philosophy and zen-meditation to be able to penetrate deeper into the field of existence. Time has always fascinated me, as has the matter of objects and ideas. Heidegger’s ”Sein und Zeit” combines these aspects in an engaging way. He, and the existential philosophers following him, defines our different approaches to the surrounding world. Even if we are a part of the same objective world, we live our lives as if we were born on different planets. I guess this is a reason for my interest in studying man versus nature.
As already mentioned, the philosophy has definitely opened up my interest for the relationship between man and nature. On the other hand, the sense of pure existence goes back to my respect for all life forms. To me, being out in nature, is a time for meditation and mindfulness, and I constantly try to penetrate deeper into the matter and use the camera and new techniques to see the subjects in a new way.
Photographic Workshop in Havana, Cuba with Alex and Rebecca Webb 2012
BA, Arts and Photography, Robert Meyer College of Art, Oslo 2004-2008
5 Photographic workshops 1995-1999
Research education microbiology, Oslo 1985-1986
Homeopathy, Oslo 1980-1984
Dentistry, Oslo 1974-1979
Pål Hermansen has since 1971 worked as a freelance photographer, artist and writer.
Since 1985 he has published 23 books (both text and photography). In addition he has
written and/or supplied imagery for 12 more books. Included in the NHM/BBC-book (2013).
1. WICH IS THE CENTRAL QUESTION IN YOUR LIFE AS A PHOTOGRAPHER?
Nourishing the creative force, challenging the conventions of nature photography and building bridge between documentary and art.
2. WHO ARE THE PHOTOGRAPHERS / OR OTHER ARTISTS THAT INSPIRE YOU?
I have been working with artists working with landart and conceptual art and this is very inspiring.
3. WHAT MAKES AN EXCELLENT PHOTOGRAPHER?
You should be able to develop your own way of seeing, trust yourself and work with projects and ideas over long time.
4. WHAT WAS THE HARDEST PART ABOUT DECIDING TO BECOME A FULL-TIME PHOTOGRAPHER?
Now the income is very unsecure and unpredictable. It was better earlier, when the sales through agencies was good.
5. WHAT MOTIVATES YOU IN YOUR WORK AND WHAT IS DEMOTIVATING?
The rare moments when you succeed with you images, fulfilling your ideas. Demotivating is when people just want boring images and don´t see the good ones.
6. WHAT ARE THE MOST PASSIONATE MOMENTS IN YOUR WORK?
When editors and gallerists are enthusiastic and the work gets published, Also when have a brand new book in my hands.
7. WHAT ARE THE MAIN CHALLENGES IN YOUR WORK?
Lack of time, both to do photography and editing.
8. HOW DID YOU DEVELOP YOUR ARTISTRY?
Slowly, though education and trial and error…
9. WHAT IS YOUR MAJOR PERSONAL LEARNING IN PHOTOGRAPHY THAT YOU WOULD CONVEY TO A "NOVICE"?
Get to know the history of art and photography and stick to the topics that really engages you.
10. WHICH ARE THE DRIVING FORCES FOR YOU PERSONALLY AND IN YOUR WORK?
The restlessness of always trying to do anything better and more challenging than earlier.
11. WHICH FEELINGS DETERMINE YOUR WORK WHEN OUT IN THE FIELD?
After many years, you develop a skill to look for the special moments, the crucial moment, when ervery factor work together.
12. ON WHICH CRITERIA DO YOU JUDGE YOUR OWN WORK AS SUCCESSFUL?
I have been able to do different things thorugh the years, and I avoid doing what others have been doing before.
13. YOUR PHOTOGRAPHIC WORK AND THE BEAUTY OF OUR PLANET, NATURE: WHAT CONNECTION DO YOU SEE?
I try not to just show the beauty, but also the interaction of humans. I love the images that tell that nature rules over humans.
14. ASSUMING YOU WOULD HAVE 15 MINUTES ON A TV BROADCAST AND PEOPLE ALL OVER THE WORLD COULD LISTEN AND UNDERSTAND WHAT YOU WERE SAYING, WHAT WOULD BE THE CORE OF YOUR MESSAGE TO THE PEOPLE?
Acquire knowledge about nature, learn to experience nature, as nature is the basis of all life. Men that live without any knowledge of and contact with nature are not what we need in the future. A way to achieve this, is to introduce children to nature in early childhood and let them explore life and nature freely.
»Pictures provide an exciting medium through which to communicate. They speak a universal language, one that every human being – on one level or another – can experience a relationship with and attempt to comprehend.«
- | Våre vakreste fjellplanter 1985
- | Vakre planter i skog og eng 1986
Included in the NHM/BBC-book Masters of Nature Photography (2013) as one of ten world-leading contemporary photographers in the field of nature.
- | WildPhotos 2007 and 2013 (BBC/Wildlife Photographer of the Year), London
- | The international Nordic Light Photography Festival, Kristiansund, Norway 2009
- | Photo Festival Vilnius, Lithuania 2010
- | AEFONA-Congress Sevilla, Spain 2011
- | GDT Festival Lünen 2002 and 2013
- | Lofoten Internationial Photo Festival 2013, Norway
- | Exodus Festival, Oviedo, Spain 2014
- | Spain Art, Salamanca, Spain 2014
- | Norwegian Nature Photography Festival 2014
Part of the Wild Wonders of Europe Project (www.wildwondersofeurope.com)
Member of the jury of the international environmental photographic competition hosted by Friends of the Earth International 2006, and the Russian Press Photo competition 2006/7. Member of the finalist jury Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2011 competition, and continuous head of the jury of the Nordic Nature
Photo Contest (NNPC) from 2011. Member of the finalist jury BBC Wildlife Photographer of the year 2014 and GDT European Nature Photographer of the Year 2014. Leader of the Programme Committee of the annual Norwegian Nature Photography Festival.
Awards:- | Finalist Nature Images Awards, Paris, France 2015
- | Second prize and highly commended, Black and white Spider awards, California 2015
- | Highly honoured, Por El Planeta competition, Mexico 2015
- | Finalist Big Picture Competition, California Academy of Sciences, San Francisco 2015
- | 1 st Prize Concurso Asferico, Italy 2015
- | Highly honoured, Glanzlichter competition 2015
- | 1 st prize Nature Images Awards, Paris, France 2014
- | 1 st prize Big Picture Competition, California Academy of Sciences, San Francisco 2014
- | All-over winner, Glanzlichter competition, Germany 2014
- | Highly honoured, Nature's Best, USA 2013
- | Fritz Pölking Preis (European Nature Photojournalist Prize), + 1 commended, GDT,
- | All-over prize of the public, GDT-exhibition 2013.
- | 1 st prize + 1 commended, BBC Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2013
- | 2 nd prize (runner-up), BBC Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2012
- | Honorable mention (2 images) Nature and Fine Arts, International Photography
Awards (IPA), California, 2012
- | Highly honored, Nature´s Best, USA 2010
- | Highly honoured, Glanzlichter competiton, Germany 2010
- | 1st Prize Concurso Asferico, Italy 2010
- | 1st Prize European Nature Photographer of the Year 2009
- | 2nd Prize European Nature Photographer of the Year 2008 Howies Art think Prize,
- | 2nd Prize Nature, singles, World Press Photo Competition 2006 Nordic Nature
Photographer 2005 (one winner biannually)
- | 1st Prize European Nature Photographer of the Year 2005
- | 1st Prize European Nature Photographer of the Year 2004 + several highly commended
- | 2nd Prize Hasselblad Open 1998
- | 1st Prize Wildlife Photographer of the Year 1993 + 6 highly commended images
- | 1st Prize junior category United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP),
international environmental photographic competition 1974
Project: A bird’s eye view
To me the bird´s flight is the ultimate expression of freedom. Therefore, my favourite creatures have always been the birds, and I keep dreaming of being able to fly over the landscape and see the world from above. I realize I will never fly as a bird, but whenever I see the possibility of coming up in the air with a noisy machine, I bring my camera. The sujet of this series will always partly be a celebration of the visual impact of the landscape seen from above. But to create art, I seek more in the images. I keep searching for the unexpected, structures telling another story than just colours and beauty. A way to underline the mystery, is often to remove all the references of size. This is an integrated part of my body of work, and I see that it’s a natural way of exploration of the world.
I often like to challenge the viewer with either complex or sophisticated compositions or the very opposite; minimalistic, restricted images, consisting of just a few lines and shapes. When removing all references of size, the aerials can sometimes be similars to microphotography. This fractal connection is very fascinating.
As I have always had an interest for this kind of photography. However, it has been more prominent in the last years, when opportunities have been opened several times. After doing some flights, I get insight into the pitfalls and the way I want to do the photography. And so I will be working extensively in the future with aerial photography. And the reason is that I now ”nearly” can be a bird myself. With the new drones available, I can fly wherever and whenever I want!
Project: A scent of cold
I have kept on visiting the cold parts of the planet through a period of more than 30 years, in total more than 35 trips. It’s always fascinating to come back to the world of the ice and cold, where the Ice age still is active. I always see something new.
The Ice age and the few creatures at the outposts of existence is the most important sujet here. It’s a tribute to the forms of life on planet earth that are the most intricately adapted to their environment. The emperor penguin is the ultimate species in this connection.
The Arctic and Antarctic areas are places that today are more affected by climate change than any other place on earth. This will always be a backdrop for the photography in these regions.
The polar regions are a realm of calmness and the long lines, and I very often end up with images with few elements and simple compositions. Shots of animals and birds invite to include the grandeur of the landscape.
I have been working on this project over tens of years, and try to find new approaches at each visit.
As the other projects, this is an ever-continuing process. Year by year, I’m now coming back to the Polar Regions as a photographic tutor.
Project: Tales from the animal kingdom
Most people forget that we are a part of the animal kingdom. It’s us and the animals. But they are in fact our brothers and sisters. They deserve our respect, as they respect us.
To make art out of animal images, one has to leave the documentary approach of nature photography and do research into the world of motion and light and interpretation. Suddenly the species or the place has no importance.
This is a key field of my work, as I have been working with images of birds and animals through my whole photographical life. Now and then, I suddenly see that possibilities open up for images at a higher lever.
The fascination of motion has always been with me. For instance, I was among the very first photographers to explore the morphology of bird’s flight patterns, patterns that are not seen by our eyes, but can be captured by the camera.
I always try to figure out when there opens up possibillities to create animal art. But it is not always possible to predict, so it means that one should always be prepared for the unexpected. This is a continuously ongoing project.