Still Life Photographer Daniel Lindh, who brings refinement and freshness to photography, turning whatever he captures through his lens into a highly desirable object – whether it be a fragrance bottle, a watch, a fashion accessory or an item of designer furniture. With his unique ability to achieve proportion and balance, his work features in ad campaigns for luxury brands such as Gucci, Dolce & Gabbana, Dior, Estée Lauder, Givenchy and Cartier, as well as on the glossy pages of Vogue, V Magazine and Numéro. Born in Stockholm, Sweden, Lindh has traveled extensively throughout the world, making lengthy stopovers in London, Melbourne and New York.
You have been working as a still life photographer for more than ten years. How would you, in your own words, describe your signature photographic style?
“The two main characteristics are composition and light. Personally I prefer images that are simple yet descriptive. I often try to photograph objects the way they are – as honestly and objectively as possible.”
How do you use light to do this?
“I like to set light that feels ‘crisp’ and reveals the texture and shape of the object, emphasizing its unique and visually interesting features. Looking at my work, you will see that most of the light is centered; instead of creating a mood with lights and shadows, I rely on the composition and the objects themselves to set the atmosphere.”
What do you see as your main strengths?
“I believe my strengths owe something to my background as a graphic designer. I apply my in-depth knowledge of and my love for design in my photography. I am a self-taught photographer, and I believe a lot of my qualities derive from not being constrained by the rules or ways of working that schools sometimes impose upon their students. This is something I remember feeling inhibited by in my previous career as a designer.”
What qualities have you brought with you from your previous career?
“An eye for design and composition, which I acquired while working with graphic design and typography. I also have a Bachelor’s degree in Graphic Design from the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology in Australia, where I studied graphic design, photography, art, illustration, design history, psychology and sociology.”
How would you say that translates into your work?
“I always aim to create balance in my photographs. I like to refer to it as accomplishing symmetrical asymmetry – working with irregular shapes and objects to bring about a result that feels proportional and well-balanced.”
What do other people say about your work?
“Many people use words such as ‘modern’ and ‘fresh’ when describing my photos. I have heard others call it a cross between American simplicity and conceptuality and European sensitivity and flair.”
It is said that you are heavily inspired by typography, art, sculpture and music in your work. Can you explain why this should be so?
“When I was previously working with typography, I would always spend way too much time kerning the words, getting the space between the letters just right. I loved doing that. As a photographer, I feel that working towards the perfect light in a photograph gives me that same sense of satisfaction … altering the angle of the light, seeing how the light changes. I’ve also worked with typography in my own projects, creating actual letters, words and phrases to photograph. Typographers such as Joseph Müller-Brockmann and Erik Spiekermann have produced some amazing work.”
What about the influence of art?
“I’ve always been drawn to simple, graphical art. After having been introduced to Kazimir Malevich’s paintings, I started thinking about how I could reinterpret them in my own way. I created a set of graphic sculptures, which I then photographed.”
How has sculpture influenced you?
“I am a great fan of the work of the artist Donald Judd. I have worked with his sculptures as a model for a series of images for Tush Magazine.”
Your collaboration with Tush seems to have been very fruitful for both parties.
“Yes, I would say that is very true. For three full years, I basically had complete freedom in my creation of still-life beauty stories for the magazine. This gave me lots of opportunities to experiment. I believe the results were quite unique in many ways.”
To some, it might seem a big step to take, going from being a graphic designer to a still-life photographer. What made you make this leap?
“In 2004 many things happened to me on a personal level. These events made me start thinking about my life, reevaluating what I was doing with my time. They got me searching for something new and different. At the same time as all this was going on, I saw this stunning still-life image of a timepiece in a magazine, which somehow sparked an interest in photography. Being able to run my own company felt like an extra bonus that I couldn’t resist.”
Aside from working on commercial assignments for the likes of Gucci, Dolce & Gabbana, Christian Dior, Cartier and many others, you also approach your own projects with great dedication. Can you tell us a little about these?
“I try to work on my own projects whenever I have the time. I collect all my ideas and thoughts in a notebook. Of course, my family always comes first on my list of priorities. But I have a long, long list of ideas I want to try.”
Every creative person has a unique way of working. Could you give us an insight into your own creative process – from idea to final image?
“I tend to do quite a lot of research and preparation before the actual shoot. After reading the client’s brief, I usually present some sort of visual direction to the client as a way of identifying the essence of the particular project. Once in a while, I even conduct a test shoot to try out several different directions; this is usually very helpful and inspiring for both the client and me. It allows me to try approaches that I perhaps would not otherwise have thought of. I believe that the key is to allow time for the creative process to take place. On the actual day of the shoot, I like to be as structured as possible. But it is important to be flexible and remain open to any impulses or input that might make the photograph even stronger. Initially, I usually work on the composition together with my client. Once that has been decided, I start setting the light and capturing the images.”
What role does a client play in the creative process?
“The most important role of all! The client’s input is key in getting the images we need. Reconciling the client’s ideas and aspirations with my own is a prerequisite for successful collaboration and the desired outcome.”
Once the photograph has been taken, it is time for the next stage in your work. How would you describe this final phase?
“If possible, I like to work with an image retoucher on-set, so that we can work on a few quick sketches right there and then. It gives both the client and me a good idea of what the final result will look like. This is especially helpful when photographing water or working with special effects that require multiple exposures, as I tend to use quite a few exposures to create the final image. As a photographer, I see myself first and foremost as a creator of images, so I have no objections to using retouching as a tool to further improve my work.”
What else do you want to achieve?
“I have recently become very interested in adding moving images to my services. After recently helping a friend film a music video, I see great potential in this medium. It also feels like a natural progression of my work to be able to offer my clients still-life-type videos of objects that I photograph.”