Jacob Aue Sobol is one of my favorite contemporary photographers. Not only are his images visually powerful and stirring– but they exude a sense of emotion that pours from the seams. His emotions have depth and soul to them– something that we all as street photographers can learn from him.
While Sobol wouldn’t call himself a “street photographer”–his way of wandering the streets and photographing strangers is something street photographers can all relate to.
I recently received a copy of “Veins” a book he co-authored by Anders Petersen and have been thinking more about Sobol’s work. Therefore I wanted to write this article to better get inside the mind of Sobol and share his inspirational images and thoughts about photography to you.
Warning: Some of the photos in this article may not be safe for work.
1. Channel your emotions
I know many artists and photographers who use negative experiences in their life and channel it to create beautiful work. With the death of Sobol’s own father, he channeled this painful experience to express himself through his photography:
Sobol: “My father was killed in a car accident in 1996. At the time I was in my last year of high school and was about to take my final exams and decide on my further education. Of course it was a shock to my mother, brother, sister and I. It was a traumatized period which was filled with darkness and fear. I think it added another layer to my life which I had to do something about. Not only as something painful but more as a place with a certain depth that was different from that of normal life.
The year after I started at the European Film College, I started writing short stories and, later, taking pictures. Once I realized that I was able to isolate my emotions and communicate them through my pictures, I felt like I had found an ability which was unique and which I wanted to explore further. Now, a lot of experiences in life and the people I have shared my time with have added to my memories, my fear and my love, and through this they have inspired me to continue photographing.”
Very few of us experience something as traumatic as losing a parent at a young age. However I think what we can learn from Sobol is how we could channel our emotions (positive and negative)– andshow them through our work.
So if you find yourself in a dark and negative space in your life– channel that energy to express yourself through your photography. Explore your emotions and feelings through picture taking– and see where it leads you.