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December - Tore Hagman.

Tore Hagman can be ranked as one of the most prominent nature photographers in Sweden. The driving force in his photography is to simplify the subject, achieving a mixture of poetry and objectivity. Tore Hagman’s images have been shown at numerous exhibitions in Sweden and abroad. He has published several photographic books and received a large number of awards.


Branches on tree: Quiver tree, Namibia. Hasselblad 205 FCC 250 mm CF. (This image received a ‘Highly Commended’ award in the BBC’s Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2002.) 

“Nature photography is not just about beautiful, appealing images. For me it’s a lifestyle based on a genuine interest in nature. Over the years, documentary images making clear statements have also become increasingly important,” says Tore Hagman.

Since receiving the Victor Hasselblad stipendium as a 26 year-old, his range of subjects has broadened. For twenty-odd years he has been deeply involved in depicting old farming landscapes and the play between man and nature.

As a regular lecturer and book publisher, with imagery as his primary communication channel he has tried to get increasingly more people to realize the importance of living, diverse cultural landscapes. With his camera he has documented small-scale landscapes, grazing livestock, and a category of smallholders that are soon to be no more. With his imagers he has tried to give a voice to a living Sweden and raise issues that affect not only those living in the countryside, but many others too.

Tore’s breakthrough came in 1987 with the book Mulens Marker. The Swedish people voted this to be one of the 100 most popular Swedish books of the 20th century. Mulens marker is about the cultural landscape of Västergötland and can be seen as a turning point in Tore’s photographic work. His previously ‘streamlined’ nature photography now included people and livestock. During the 1990s he published several more books underlining the same message.


Man with hands in pockets: Smallholder Johannes Jacobsson, Edshult, Hemsjö, Västergötland, Sweden. Hasselblad 205 FCC 120 mm CF. Man with oats: Smallholder Helge Johansson, Östtorp, Skogsbygden, Västergötland, Sweden. Hasselblad 205 FCC 120 mm CF.
 

 Today, as a photographer, Tore Hagman is characterized by the fact that he works in several different ways. In part pure documentary work, anchored in collaborations with researchers and writers. And in part esthetically, with simplification, lighting, composition, color, and form comprising the cornerstones. According to Tore, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to get such books published in Sweden.

Last fall he published “Gamla ekar” (Old Oaks), comprising very comprehensive documentation that took 10 years to compile. Tore is currently fully occupied taking pictures for a book about Sweden’s west coast. This is a three-year project on assignment for Max Ström’s publishing house and is expected to go to print during 2004.


Bryce Canyon, Utah, USA. Hasselblad 205 FCC, Zeiss Makro-Planar 120mm CF. Blue delta: Delta at Peyto lake, Banff, Canada. Hasselblad 205 FCC 250 mm CF.
 
In addition to publishing books and holding lectures, Tore also earns a living by selling his photographs to magazines, advertising agencies, and others. Today he is affiliated with two image libraries, Naturfotograferna (Nature Photographers) in Sweden and Bruce Coleman Collection in England. Images clearly depicting nature have long been the most sought after, but things are changing. Young picture editors and ADs want to see a new type of image, where demands on image sharpness and solidly learned photographic basics no longer apply. This places new demands on the photographer. “While it is a positive thing to be able to follow your own photographic ideas, it is also important to be open to and curious about that which is ‘new’. Not least if you want to survive as a photographer with a focus on nature,” reasons Tore.


Stones of different colors: Stony beach, Svalbard, Norway. Hasselblad 205 FCC 120 mm CF.
 
Tore also tells of the ‘backpack’ that every nature photographer carries with them, the template for what is considered proper nature photography and which can be difficult to deviate from. “We often talk of nature romanticism and as a nature photographer you often get to hear that your pictures are beautiful. But you must always be aware that the balance between a really good image and an image that feels pathetic is very fine. This is the unavoidable dilemma of nature photography,” concludes Tore.

Kerstin Fiedler