Interview with Hans Gunnar Aslaksen | GBPW Episode 94

Nature is always so cluttered and has so many details. Simplify things. That’s the main thing I would go for.

Hans Gunnar Aslaksen

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Norwegian landscape photographer Hans Gunnar Aslaksen is our guest this week! Hans is a self-taught photographer who enjoys photographing landscapes and seascapes. As a designer, he knows how to create stunning photos by balancing colour, composition, and light. I had a wonderful conversation with him about his brilliant work.

We talk about:

  • Hans Gunnar Aslaksen’s life as a full-time designer and its effects on his photography
  • Why it’s important to be selective when you collaborate with photography companies
  • How he engages with his followers to build trust

& much more!

I had so much fun speaking with Hans. He’s friendly, imaginative, and full of incredible ideas. If you’re interested in any aspect of landscape photography, I’m sure that you’ll enjoy listening to this episode.

Here is a preview of our conversation with Hans Gunnar Aslaksen.

Q: You’re a designer, so you know more about composition and colour theory than the average person. Are there any specific elements of design that every photographer should study to improve their work?

Hans Gunnar Aslaksen: That has been a big advantage for me in my photography, being a graphic designer. I went to art school, so I drew for one year. It’s mostly the same principles as photography when it comes to composition and colour theory. Drawing is learning to see, and I guess that goes with photography as well.

You know the techniques in Photoshop. You dodge and burn the picture to bring out the highlights, darken the shadows, and so on. You shape the objects so it looks three-dimensional. Those are the basic principles of drawing as well. That has been a good background for me and maybe an easier way into photography.

When it comes to composition and colour, I like to take the “less is more” approach. I really like to play with warm and cold contrasts in my images. If I have more warmer colours against cooler shadows, I try to make the warm colours more uniform. Maybe I have some yellow in the highlights, so I take the yellow and make it more orange. I try to have as few colours as possible in my images.

Q: You reply to almost every comment on your photographs. There are usually hundreds of them! How much time does that take? How important is it for photographers to be active online?

Hans Gunnar Aslaksen: If you want to grow on Instagram, don’t do what I do, which is post every Friday. You have to post more and be a lot more active than than I am. I started off just posting on Fridays because I didn’t have the opportunity to take more images. I didn’t have a lot of new stuff that I could post several days a week.

I think that Friday is a good day. It’s something to look forward to, and maybe I set some time to answer comments as well. It’s just become a thing for me to have those Friday posts. I just kept on doing that once a week.

I like to respond to comments because I think that when people have taken the time to look at my photos and give me feedback, it’s polite and nice for me to give them an answer.

I think that the best thing about Instagram is the opportunity to connect with like-minded people. I met two other guys from a town close to me that I’m now happy to call my friends. We’ve been on trips to Lofoten and Iceland together and we’ve also shot locally. It’s fun to connect with people. I don’t see that as work or as an exhausting thing to do. But usually, I’m active on Fridays, so it’s only once a week. It’s maybe not as much work as you may think.

Q: How do you want people to feel when they look at your images?

Hans Gunnar Aslaksen: I started out with wide angle scenes. I really like scenes that have atmospheric elements in them. If I can add a dreamy look to my images when I edit, I’ll certainly do that.

Nowadays, I’ve switched a bit more to the long lens. I really like to pick up small frames. I think that kind of approach may lead into more abstract work and more experimentation. Images that ask questions instead of answering questions are really nice. If I can spark someone’s imagination with an image, that is a successful image for me.

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