It seems as if Anna Örnberg never runs out of ideas. She is an eternally bubbling source of creativity and masters new challenges with imagination, heart, and soul. In an exciting interview, we found out what the Swedish photographer’s work is all about and how she finds the best motifs:
When did you start taking pictures?
Anna: I’ve been in the media business for many years, doing pretty much everything from styling and designing to writing – for all kinds of topics like crafts, DIY, interiors, and gardens. A few years ago, I finally got my act together and took the final step: now I also do my own photography, and lately, I’ve been especially fond of gardens! Here, I am in nature, but also encounter a lot of creativity, charming recycling ideas, and innovative design concepts.
What is your specialty, how would you describe your style?
Anna: In recent years, it’s been mostly gardens and garden-related topics. But I’m always curious. If there’s a story to tell, I don’t hesitate to capture it. I think that’s also what makes my style. Because I also write and have been producing or working with my own magazines and books for many years, I always have the text in mind right away, too. I don’t photograph random things just because they look nice. Either the subject has to reveal something or enhance the layout. So I can’t brag about being particularly artistic in this context, but rather practical, I think.
How have you developed over time?
Anna: I’ve been working with pictures forever, but more in the background. I’ve been sketching, planning, getting props, building the set, and explaining to the photographer what I have in mind, what point of view, for example. In other words: I directed.
This experience makes it easy for me to compose a picture. The big change and the biggest challenge for me was to learn the technical part, i.e. how to use the camera and how to edit the image, and to realize the actual shooting of an image.
That’s the beauty for me, that I still have so much to discover and learn – and I’m guaranteed never to get bored.
What would you say makes your images unique?
Anna: I think it’s more the whole package than just the images themselves. I could never give my images to someone else without context and let that person tell the story, that is part of it for me.
I’m also very interested in structures, shapes, and the design of the gardens – not just the plants. Since I like to be creative myself, I always have a keen eye for clever solutions for problems and DIY ideas.
What does a typical shooting day look like?
Anna: There are no typical days. That’s what I like about my job. I have to adapt to the weather conditions and the flowers. One day I get up at 3:30am and do the shoot at dawn. Other days I wait on a porch until dusk and hope it stops raining.
“Typical” would be: Meeting new people, asking lots of questions and trying to quickly capture what makes the garden special, so I can capture its character. It’s intense! When I had a teammate, I could talk or listen and plan the next images while the photographer took the shots. Now I have to do it all, and it’s not always easy to be nice and focused at the same time.
How do you make people feel comfortable on your shoots?
Anna: I, myself, don’t like being photographed at all. So I understand initial mistrust and the difficulty to relax in this situation. So I make sure I guide people and explain the why and the how. A good trick is to give them something to hold. My favorite pose for couples is to have them sit on a staircase – it usually makes for a very relaxed and familiar pose.
What camera equipment do you use?
Anna: I have three Canon cameras, 6D Mark II. They take good pictures for magazines and books and have the advantage that the files are not too big. Usually, you have to work very fast, and I guess it’s easier to have one camera with each lens – 50 mm, macro 100 mm, and a zoom 28-70 mm. It takes too long to change lenses, and accidents can easily happen in a garden.
How do you search for new locations?
Anna: For creative people like me, social media is like window shopping! But because these gardens can be seen by many, I tend to avoid garden owners with many followers. I also get contacted or get tips from friends, and I know many garden designers and gardeners. I think tracking down gardens and people with interesting stories is easy today. It used to be really exhausting sometimes without the internet! Now you have these insanely wide networks.
What are the next photographic challenges you’re aiming for?
Anna: I still find living spaces quite challenging. It’s one thing to take a few pictures of a room, but quite another to style and photograph a complete house yourself. Because it’s all about shooting the different rooms in the right order, there’s some quick decision making involved, depending on how the light is and the sun is. To do all this in a reasonable time, I need a stylist as a partner.