In 2009 Swedish still life photographer Fabian Öhrn took a vacation to Hong Kong where through mutual friends he first met David Ericsson, founder of VOID Watches. At the time VOID was just a year old and had recently launched its analogue V02 watches along with its second iteration of the digital V01. Though the young company was able to grow its headquarters from David’s apartment and into a Sheung Wan shop front it didn’t have the visuals to accompany the product photos.
Following the introduction Fabian headed back to Sweden with a handful of square watches in his suitcase. There was no brief but an interest to simply photograph the watches.
Ten days after Fabian stepped foot in his Stockholm studio, VOID’s first campaign image emerged with said watches floating amongst a paper matrix. Since then the photographer has photographed two more sets of images for VOID, which, like all of his still life work is playfully technical.
Photographing anything from handbags, beauty products to Absolut bottles, his portfolio consistently explores new ways to skew light and reinvent the use of everyday materials.
In slew of publishing his third campaign with VOID, Fabian shares his truths about the creative process; a process that is never linear but an ongoing collection of personal developments, research, multiple mental notes in the shower and perseverance.
Hi Fabian, tell us a bit about yourself. Where are you originally from and where are you now?
Hi! I’m a still-life photographer living in NYC. Originally from a small island outside of Stockholm, Sweden. Right now I’m sitting in my office in the West Village, in a minor mess of Pelican cases, C-Stands rolled up gels.
When did your interest in photography begin?
I don’t know really, I think it’s one of those things that’s always been there. I don’t have these “when my uncle gave me a camera” or anything. I have always liked to depict things, to shape things, to build things. Photography just became my tool.
What format(s) do you shoot in?
FFF. Hasselblad’s own raw format. Megapixel is a hoax – you can shoot beautiful images with anything. But it helps to have a proper setup if you want to blow your image up on a billboard.
How many years have you been in the photography industry? What was one of your most memorable shoots?
Eight years now. And it’s been a lot of memorable shoots, but one special was the first shoot I did here in NYC for a magazine called DuJour. That’s a story for later, though.
Your work focuses on photographing products quite creatively – often floating, with ephemeral reflections, geometric spotlights and shot amongst everyday materials. What let you into such a direction and how did you come to have such a strong emphasis on products?
Well, what I do is a craft and the product is what I sell. But how I got to my style is mostly just imagination and hard work. I always liked ballet dance, it’s one of these things that seem completely effortless, when it’s done properly. But there’s so much time and effort put into that initial talent, rehearsing, fine tuning every step and every movement. I always want to create that same feeling in my photography, a directness. The hours spent planning, researching, rigging, and working on that one image should never show. I’m not completely sure it answered your questions, but maybe.
You’re responsible for VOID Watches’s first campaign where you’ve photographed our V01s and V02s floating amongst a paper matrix, there’s a sense of calm vertigo. How did you come up with this concept and how long did it take you to photograph and edit the main group shot?
Haha, well, like I just said it is a bit of a process and at the same time, not. Working in a creative field, you always have multiple tracks going in your mind at once. And you kinda cross between them. For me it has never really worked to sit down with a blank piece of paper, trying to come up with stuff. I have to just put down a mental note to start looking for this idea, then go on with my normal life and all of a sudden it just pops up. The hard thing is to recognise when it does, and then executing it. Most of the time I come up with ideas in the shower actually. After that, you just have to figure out how to actually make this new idea work. This particular image took about ten days from when I set foot in the studio, to when I delivered the file.
In the most recent series that you’ve shot for us you’ve photographed our V01MKIIs, V02MKIIs, and V03Ms within a deconstructed white landscape. Can you share your thought process behind this shoot?
I’ve been really into 3D rendering, CGI and that kind of thing lately. I think it was from there these polygon shapes just kept popping up in my head. But I wanted to build them for real.
What does a ‘usual’ day in the studio look like for you?
Open Spotify, press play, coffee, emails, phone calls, proof-checking, coffee, red and green arrows, curves one percent left or right, coffee, dog walk, emails, retouching, researching different type of wood, more arrows, obsessing over a new shade of white, coffee, dog walk, press pause. Repeat.
If you weren’t a photographer what would you be?
A dog walker.
What’s your relationship to time?
What’s your favourite time of day?
If you had two more hours every day, how would you invest it?
Make 6.30am two hours longer.
What would you say are your weaknesses?
I actually never really know when to stop. People sometimes say that, but it has become a real problem for me. I once had a assistant who dragged me from the camera to show that everyone had left the studio, suggesting it might be time to call it a day.
Is there anything you’d like to recommend?
The Last Magazine, best publication in New York. And lemon pasta.
Any last words?
Thanks for your attention!
See more of Fabian's work:
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