Multiple Nat Geo covers, awards, documentaries, environmental protection projects and some of the most dangerous globetrotting expeditions known to man – Swedish photographer Mattias Klum has done it all… nearly. Giving us a unique insight into his life philosophy and approach to art, read on to hear how Mattias has lead such a singular, accomplished career as a photographer ahead of his talk at the House Dec 9!
Q: What inspired you to become a photographer?
A: From the very beginning I wanted to capture my experiences in nature, everything that moved me in one way or another. From patterns, still life to landscape treatment to animals in their environments. After a while I realised that by capturing what moved me I could potentially move someone else.
Q: What do you prefer, analogue or digital cameras?
A: I used to shoot analog for many years obviously but these days I mainly use digital cameras.
Q: How do you feel about digitally-modified photography?
A: As a National Geographic photographer, using the highest ethics is a key. What is truly awarding is to capture and interpret your objects or what’s in front of your camera in a documentary kind of way. We discuss this frequently, and it’s important that the readers of NG can trust of what we can show has happened and is portrayed in an authentic un-maipulated way.
Q: In 1997, you became the first Swede to have your work on the cover of National Geographic, how has your relationship with NG changed over time?
A: ‘At that point that was a breakthrough for me and my team. Every project, every expedition has been a labour of love. And every story is an opportunity to possibly change through storytelling. NG is one of the best platforms to communicate from. Now, as an NG fellow I am not just taking pictures, I also try to use my experience and network to possibly help NG change the world.
Q: You are famous for capturing the beauty of the natural world and it’s last wild places – do you have a favourite natural wonder?
A: To me nature is always a wonder, from small detail to great landscape to all colours of the world. The monochromatic subtleties that a Swedish landscape in fall can present, as totally visually stunning. I’m possibly easy to please.
Q: Your book The Human Quest deals with how we can learn to live within our planet’s boundaries – What daily step can people take to have an impact on global sustainability?
A: We can effect change on so many levels, we can all embark a sustainable path, what it takes is a personal audit. Obviously a new paradigm for government and industries, regardless if we are heads of states or students, what we do with our lives can make a difference. This is the key, but we are head of schedule.
Q: What has been the most dangerous moment of your travels thus far?
A: We had an assignment in Nigeria in 1990 during a coup d’etat, and on top of this my wife and I got amoebic dysentery, got robbed… That was pretty rough!
Q: Have you ever experienced a moment which you couldn’t capture for emotional reasons?
A: I was doing an assignment on a Buddhist-temple off the beaten track in the Himalayas. My assistant had to remind me continuously to work because I was so moved by the enchanted nuns in a convent, that I almost forgot why I was there.
Q: If you had to move to another country, what would be your ultimate destination?
A: It’s a very touch question, every country has its qualities.
Q: Do you have a dream moment you would love to capture?
A: The longer I worked as a filmmaker and a photographer, the less I’m interested in isolated moments. Those will come to you anyway. I’m most interested in how to build a story and to use it for a greater good.
See Mattias Klum in our last National Geographic Live! talk for 2012. More info after the jump →