Our weekly Spotlight series is a close up look at the talented people using Format websites to showcase their work. This week, we interview photographer Robin Ek.
We first came across the work of Robin Ek on Instagram, where his tidily composed scenes always feel like a moment of peaceful reflection. In addition to being a prolific photographer, Ek is the creative director of Exposure London, a creative communications agency that’s done work for major brands like Nike, Microsoft, Netflix, and many others.
Photography, for Ek, is a stress-free space to be creative, and a means of uncovering new ways of viewing the world around him—a time out from his working world of ad campaigns and client meetings. Focusing on scenes from his daily life, Ek works to find interesting details in everyday walks and the view from his windows at home.
On Ek’s online portfolio, built using Format’s Obsidian theme, a clean-lined grid view offers a preview of several photo projects. Enigmatic titles and written introductions provide context for his work, which is neatly curated into series such as The moment after or just before and Inner/Visions.
We got in touch with Ek to find out more about his photographic process, and how he uses his Instagram feed to complement the curated galleries on his website.
Where are you based and where do you usually shoot?
I’m Swedish but based in London. I shoot everywhere I go. Leaving the house without the camera leads to a certain type of anxiety. What if a rare moment unfolds before me and I’m left helpless and empty-handed! The companionship of the camera makes otherwise mundane trips interesting. I’ve realized that even the most habitual routes, to and from the train station, to the corner shop, etc, are ever-changing and full of opportunities to catch something special.
I remember lying in bed one cold morning a few months ago, thinking I must travel to some distant desert landscape to shoot some more interesting material, only to minutes later walk into my kitchen to find this unusual circle of condensation on the window, with a blossom tree at the back of the garden, perfectly framed in its centre. It became my favorite picture for some time and taught me an important lesson.
Could you share a bit about your work at Exposure London?
I try to be fresh air in a stuffy world of marketing. There’s so much jargon and politics in the industry, and I try to inspire brands to take a more genuine, realer route. My background is in graphic design, but these days I write just as much. A lot of my job is in the thinking, but really it’s all in the feeling. The art is finding a way to access and channel personal experience and feeling into the work. Then it begins to mean something, and other people stand a chance of feeling it too.
How did you first get into photography?
I’ve worked in design and advertising for 20 years so photography has always been very close, but it’s only recently that I hung the camera around my own neck. I started taking short lunchtime walks and promised myself to shoot and share one image per day. It turned into addiction; I began to walk further, and push my imagery further. Photography is a healthy self project for me. No clients, no guidelines, no conference calls. I’ll keep walking, see where I end up….
What camera do you shoot with?
A battered and much-loved Fujifilm XT-1 with an 18-55mm lens.
How do you use your website to support your photo work?
Instagram is often described as a gallery. This can be quite pressurizing, as galleries are synonymous with perfectly curated exhibitions full of scrutinizing critics. Since getting my website together I felt my Instagram account liberate into more of a sketchbook where I share images and ideas as they take form. I use the website to organize my work into more considered series, a destination for a more finished presentation.
What projects are you working on right now?
At the moment I’m playing around with a Daydreaming Diary, which is essentially a metaphor for what photography has come to mean to me. The camera is my daydreaming instrument, a meditative medallion around my neck, for seeing through the gaps that exist between here and now. It’s a bit conceptual at the moment, which I enjoy. I like to give projects enough room to form in the process rather than preconceiving everything and then going out and shooting it.
I’m also working on a series of limited, large format prints of some of my cosmos-inspired abstractions, which I intend to release in accordance with a calendar of rare celestial events.
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