CLOSER LOOK: Kristoffer Engholm Aabo

“Out Of Focus” is a distributor of high-quality limited edition prints of art photography - our Featured Photographers are from widely different places across the planet, and one of our pillars is to ensure that every series of artists is as diverse as possible.

Every now and then, we intend to provide our community with a deeper insight into the work of our photographers. The artistic process that goes into creating their selections is not always evident from the final result, but often their reflections provide us with a more meaningful appreciation of their prints.

This week, we are exploring the work of Danish photographer Kristoffer Engholm Aabo.

Engholm Aabo’s series released in July of 2019 explores his travels throughout Iran - a country that is growing more and more alienated from the West. In recent months, tensions between Iran and the U.S. and its allies have escalated, and it has dominated the news headlines - but it’s a country of over 80 million people, and it is rare that outsiders are offered a true look at everyday life in the cities of Persia.

“There has been an unhealthy, divided view on the world the past 15 to 20 years. It's the western world against China, the Middle East and Russia among others,” says Engholm Aabo. “This is a shame. These cultures have had a big influence on modern society and culture all over the world. I had my eyes on Iran for quite a while after hearing other travellers talk warmly about the Iranian people and their culture.”

Engholm Aabo travelled across Iran in 2017; a journey that took him through the major cities of Tehran, Isfahan, Shiraz and Yazd.

“Good photography offers a different view on the world we live in - looking for those different angles inspires me. It’s actually hard to depict simple, everyday scenarios the way our eyes see them. To create a recognizable scenario as a photographer, I have to add or subtract objects and light to tell a story the viewer will be able to understand.”

“When you start to see the world in that way, you realize that you have the power to alter scenarios to represent something different than everyday scenes - another mood, another time, another world. It opens up our perception of our surroundings, and it inspires me tremendously to look at the world in this way.”

While he is an accomplished photographer, Engholm Aabo mainly works in cinema; his credits include numerous award-winning films and television series in his home country of Denmark. Despite his focus on the moving image, Engholm Aabo’s background in still photography is what led him down this path.

“Today, I work as a director of photography - a cinematographer - but actually my interest in the field was sparked by still photography,” he explains. “In my early teenage years, I found still photography as a perfect medium to explore and express my growing creativity. I did not know whether I would end up working as a photographer or maybe as an architect or even a painter. Through the lens, however, I found a joy in depicting the world around me and playing with light. I knew my calling. Still photography is often lonely though, which does not suit my character, so I quickly transitioned into the collaborative art of filmmaking, working as a director of photography.”

With his experience in cinema, Engholm Aabo finds himself working very differently when creating still photography projects. His Arri Alexa is switched out for a piece of equipment that is portable enough to travel with.

“In my everyday work as a cinematographer, I work with big(!) cameras. Usually, I work with so much camera equipment that I rely on help from several assistants. When travelling on my own, I need to do the opposite in order to enjoy the experience. I use a very small, but powerfull camera - a collaboration of Panasonic and Leica - the LX100. It is about the size of my fist, so it fits around my neck easily, and I can bring it everywhere, while enjoying the freedom of travelling.”

Engholm Aabo concludes his reflections on his project on Iran.

“In Iran I found exactly what I was looking for. A warmhearted and hospitable people that welcomed me into an incredibly diverse and culturally rich country. There was many moments of joyous company, but the trip also offered quiet moments where I found time to stop, breathe and feel the presence. Those are the moments I have depicted in my Iran series published with “Out Of Focus”.

Kristoffer Engholm Aabo’s pictures from Iran are available for purchase through our website - explore his series here.

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