Cooking Soul: Carl Kleiner
Swedish photographer Carl Kleiner has a real passion for rational, still-life imagery. His shots sublime the subject without recourse to the usual tricks of the photography trade, such as styling. He goes straight to the point, merging his beautiful compositions in a world of colours and lines. Occasionally he and his wife Evelina enjoy playing with food, creating funny characters out of all sorts of fruit and vegetables.
How did you start working as a photographer?
I used to shoot my friends skateboarding when I was a teenager. Later I studied graphic design, where I made collages and three-dimensional work that needed to be documented and so I started to use the camera for that purpose. That slowly lead me into the world of still-life photography.
Do you remember the first photo you ever took?
I do remember my first “conceptual” photograph. It was a photo of a friend whom I arranged in a chair and dressed up with stuff I had in my room. Five pairs of sunglasses layered on top of each other. Soft nunchakus, a synth, an electric guitar, teddy bears and other cool stuff. We were 12 years old and the Dookie album by Green Day was playing in the background.
How would you define your approach to photography?
A mix of planning and spontaneity.
You are most known for your still-life photography. How do you conceive your compositions?
I try to find balance and tension in the compositions, usually with the help of some basic geometric ground rules.
The use of light is fundamental in your work. How do you work on your set?
Early on in the process, I try to work fast and somewhat chaotically with a "broad brush” to get a sense of how the subjects react to different light situations, and also to see if anything unexpected happens. After the experiments, I decide on a direction and adjust everything more carefully until it looks right.
Your still-life work can either be very funny or very minimal. What’s your favourite approach?
Geometry & colours outrank humour in my brain. So when I work on personal projects they tend to be more abstract. Evelina – my partner and wife – is often the one who brings the fun to the images.
How do you create the “characters” in your food series?
The characters published here are the first set of food characters we ever made. There wasn’t a lot of planning involved – we bought lots of veggies and tried out different things on set. These days we plan the characters in advance and sketch them out.
What’s your favourite food?
And your favourite restaurant/bar in Stockholm?
Photographs by Carl Kleiner