JH Engström was born in Karlstad, Värmland, Sweden in 1969. He studied film and photography at the University of Gothenburg and later lived in Paris for over 20 years, where he assisted photographers Mario Testino and Anders Petersen. He now lives in the south of Sweden. Engström’s international breakthrough came in 2004 with his bookTrying to Dance, which was nominated for the Deutsche Börse Photography Prize in 2005. Over the years, JH Engström has received numerous international awards for his work, including most recently the 2015 Leica Oskar Barnack Award.
JH Engström’s photography gives visual form to existential states. Without focusing on one specific theme, he collects impressions in all possible styles – impressions that correspond to his emotions. He explores what existence is really all about. In this interview, JH Engström talks about emotions while photographing, editing as a laborious act, and experimenting with new formats.
Q: Do you plan to take pictures in advance or do you always have a camera on hand to catch the chance moment?
A: I most often have a camera on hand. I work both with primitive and intuitive shooting, and more planned shooting and the whole range in between. There is absolutely no hierarchy within that range. To only work with one method would be too simplistic and it would bore me as well. The way I prepare myself is by trying to catch the energies within me that are in connection with my inner conflicts, doubts, fears, contradictions, questions or the pure joy of existing.