Martin Bohm is a Swedish photographer with an edge. A grittier side which shines through in his work.
We can't get enough of his refreshing approach to work and life. We hope you enjoy our conversation with him
Who are you, where are you from, what do you do?
I’m Martin Bohm, a 26 years old dreamer from Västerås, Sweden. I come from a small town in a small European country, where everything seems perfect, but it’s not.
I want to show the way of being young, wild and free in a place where feelings and culture are suppressed to death, where everything needs to be extremely normative, but you’re not.
Photography is my way of truly expressing my inner voice and I put a lot of my own feelings in both my personal and professional work.
Professionally, I try to listen carefully to my customers while still not losing myself or my essence of creating.
Creatively, I’m in a love-hate relationship with melancholy and therefore I’m kind of dragging myself down there between the commercial gigs, just so I have to create my way out of it and expand my mind.
"My work orbits around one thing, FEELINGS"Martin Bohm
Describe what it's like to be a professional photographer based in Sweden. What's the industry like?
I think the way that the industry is perceived in Sweden varies a whole lot depending on your geographical location, luckily my hometown is at least located pretty close to Stockholm compared to the majority of other small towns.
I started working as a photographer at the local newspaper during my second year in high school, and from there one spark ignited another leading to where I am today, 7 years later, filled with more knowledge and experiences that I ever knew was possible from the start, still feeling like there’s an endless amount of things to learn. I have had the possibility to try different genres and I’m slowly finding my own way, transforming my life around my photography.
So, for me, the industry is what it is and I had to adapt to it early but for someone with two children trying to quit their day job chasing their dream of being a photographer, I can believe it’s something completely different, something harder to adapt to.
Your work ranges from portraits of regular people to celebrities, editorials to fashion, and many other genres. What's the "red line" that ties everything together and identifies your signature style.
My work orbits around one thing, FEELINGS – I had the opportunity to live and work in Barcelona for about a year and a half. The people I connected with and the colorful experiences I had allowed my mind to expand and blossom, I learned to love and feel.
Since then my main focus has been shifting more and more towards creating honest photographs that encourages the viewer to follow his or her dreams. I want to show that no magical sunset is too far away and no designer dress is too rare to own, you can always do you in your own way and nothing is impossible if you just put your whole heart to it.
Along with the constant reflection of feelings I have a quite colorful imagery, more and more to be seen in my latest work and especially in my upcoming exhibition ”NEONLAND”.
You're in a room with someone - a celebrity, a lawyer, a bus driver, anyone really - and you need to nail one portrait. What's your first move to get the process started?
When I shoot people, whether it’s a local farmer for the daily newspaper or if it’s a professional model for an upcoming look-book I always try to be the same, down to earth person, that I also am around my friends and family. Making your model feel comfortable is key when taking portraits, just imagine how hard it would be for you to take that photo if you were really uncomfortable in that situation.
If you direct someone to be happy, they sure will look happy, but they won’t necessarily feel happy and that’s the essence of portraying someone. It doesn’t have to be happy, just something, something real. Don’t forget, it takes two to dance.
Describe how your personal work differs from your professional work.
My personal work is my personal world, it’s my sanctuary. A safe place where I can create anything I want, a place where I’ve got all the influence. This is where I try all the things I can come up with, ventilate my feelings and experiment to grow as an artist. Sometimes you just have to create something strange, maybe even something bad, but that’s okay, because here you can.
From time to time I want to invite you all to my personal world, I’ll do that soon actually. I want to open a portal – to the edged blur, the dark but vibrant, raw but euphoric and scary but rewarding world of feelings. To open that portal I started working on an exhibition called ”NEONLAND”, it’s still a work in progress but the exhibition is getting closer. The idea is to question the norms of mental illnesses, drugs, ideals, genders and fashion.
As well as highlighting the beauty in everyday objects, humanity’s uniqueness, the inner darkness and our not eternally blossoming mother nature. It’s going to be vibrant, raw, vulnerable and include a whole lot of escapism filled with love and despair. It’s going to be honest and un-retouched, because imperfect is perfection. I can’t wait to pour my heart out for everyone to see. And feel.
What is one thing you're OBSESSED with right now (can be absolutely anything - no matter how frivolous or serious)?
Since almost a year back I’ve been obsessed with neon lights and ever since I’ve been collecting material to my upcoming exhibition. It springs from the fascination and fear of having a highly sensitive mind.
How everything seems to be more colourful in my own mind than it seems to be in others. Except for showing my photographic work there will also be installations of lights and electronic music. What will you feel if I put you in a situation that mimic what I feel?