To discover more about the living life behind a lens we started interview series featuring 500px photographers. Today we’d like to introduce you to Mikael Sundberg, a multi-genre deaf photographer from Orebro, Sweden. Photography is his hobby and he often presents beautiful masterpieces here at 500px.
Hello Mikael, could you tell us a bit about yourself and who is Mikael Sundberg?
Mikael Sundberg was born deaf, and he has a big passion for photography and being creative :) I like to be in nature, hiking in mountains and traveling. Currently I am working at European Sign Language Centre, a non-profit organization. I use a 360 degrees photography in my work in order to spread the sign language and make it available for everyone all around the world. When using a 360 degrees technique, one can "stand" in a room and learn what objects inside the room are called in sign language with clipped in movies. When not working, I often spend my spare time in nature photographing with my fiancée Melody.
I also work part-time as a teacher in the field of photography and film. In the past I’ve collaborated and worked on a number of books, but it is only now that I am working on my own first book ever. This book is going to be filled with easy to understand tips on photography and will be enticing for both beginners and advanced photographers, as it will cover all the different photo genres. Through this book you’ll also discover how it is like to be a deaf photographer.
Why photography? What inspired you to chose this craft and start photographing.
Since I am deaf and am unable to hear anything at all — the visual world is even more intense to me. I want to capture and show my photographic visions as a deaf person.
Is photography a full time job or a hobby? If is is an occupation how did it become so?
In 2004 I borrowed my father’s analog camera while inter-railing in Europe. During the travel I just got hooked on photography. Two years later I purchased a digital SLR camera: Canon EOS 350D.
Photography then became my hobby and in 2006 and 2009 I started to freelance. Earlier I also worked as a photographer for Skillnad AB and photographed for several books. I also used my photography skills in several other jobs I've had, such as the job I am currently working at.
Could you share with us an interesting story a lesson learned along your photographic journey?
When I compare my pictures from my first years of photography with the photos I take now, I can see a difference. You see, as a beginner one often tries to take photos that are perfect in a technical way. But today I value feelings and messages in a picture more than technical perfection. A photo may be noisy and unsharp, but it can still be a thousand times better than a "perfect" photo, if it has a strong message or evokes emotions in a viewer. Today, in comparison with my early photo days, I try to take those kind of photos only. It is also more of a challenge to myself.
What is your favourite equipment to photograph with?
I have been through many different SLR cameras and lenses since 2006, but now I am looking for lightweight equipment as I photograph when hiking and traveling. Canon 6D is now my camera of choice due to its size, weight and ISO quality. Other lenses I use a lot are a Canon 17-40mm for landscapes and a Canon 100-400mm for animals.
What equipment would you recommend to those starting in photography?
I’d recommend an SLR camera, but the type of camera is really less important. It is not essential to buy one of the more expensive camera bodies; as a beginner you can come a long way with one of the simpler SLRs.
When it comes to lenses a 50mm F1.8 lens is definitely a great investment, and a super-zoom can also be price worthy. With these types of lenses you can photograph a great variety of subjects (portraits, street photography, landscape, animals, still life etc. ) and in many genres and motifs.
Your portfolio is comprised of a great range of genres. From fine art to concert to space and models. How do you find the time to photograph so many different subjects?
Haha, well, how I manage to get the time to photograph is a good question. But since my fiancée is also a photographer we spend a lot of time photographing when we have the spare time. I try bring my camera with me as often as possible — even for a short walk in the woods. You never know if an animal or some other wonderful motif will show up. I have also changed my work flow. Earlier I took many photos but today I try to keep the number of photos low, which makes it easier for me to find the time to edit them afterwards.
What keeps you motivated and inspired?
I look at many great photos here at 500px but also on other places on the web. I even find inspiration in movies. The fun part is that when it comes to photography, genres and themes never end. That’s a huge motivation for me. I have a lot of ideas but sometime it is difficult to find the time to accomplish them.
Do you think a photographer should specialize or have a range of different photo genres?
It is up to every person to decide that for themselves. There is nothing wrong with just keeping to one genre or to photograph in many genres. In my opinion and experience, photographing in many different genres makes the hobby even more fun and interesting.
What is your favourite photo? Your own photo and maybe a photo by another photographer.
My favourite picture is "Heavy Winter". But I'll let the picture speak for itself...
Thanks for the interview! If you’d like to see more photos by Mikael Sundberg visit his 500px page, there you can add him to friends, check camera settings and enjoy future uploads. Visit the same page to get in touch with Mikael.
We hope you enjoyed the post, for similar articles visit It's All About the Light to learn about different types of natural light or watch Skylights to discover time-lapse night photography.