Photography By Nikolaj Lund Plays a Surrealist Note

Nikolaj Lund  Photography

Photo Courtesy of Nikolaj Lund
Nikolaj Lund, Danish musician turned photographer is capturing portraiture in an entirely new light. His work channels a sense of classicism immersed inside a surrealist world, featuring various types of musicians in unlikely environments and poses. In many ways, Lund's photography creates a visual representation of music itself. Lund captures the abstract quality of how instrumentation makes us feel — perhaps the way a stringed violin note conjures a black and white memory, or how a flute reminds us of rain. Take a look below to find out where this innovative artist gets his inspiration.

JustLuxe: What inspired you to begin shooting classical music photography?

Nikolaj Lund: I have a Masters degree in cello performance, but when I turned to photography full-time about four years ago, I would never have seen myself doing portraiture! I didn’t really like the staged photos. They seemed stiff and unnatural to me. I was a lot more into documenting what happened around me—trying to capture undisturbed moments in people’s lives in an aesthetical way. But then one of my former colleagues (a violinist) contacted me and asked if I could do the photos for her postgraduate examination. I accepted on the terms that we could try some more untraditional poses. And it turned out really well, and I actually enjoyed myself doing these photos. Soon after came another colleague and yet another.

JL: Your images are unique and exciting. Where does the inspiration come from for your concepts?

NL: I think I am mostly trying to see what is possible; try out limits. At the same time trying to enjoy myself and hopefully my clients too! My inspiration can come from many places. I think my overall inspiration to keep doing what I do comes from people around me, nature and music. But of course I also get more concrete ideas from seeing what other photographers and artists do. You take bits and pieces from many places and suddenly you have your own idea.
JL: Other then classical music photography, what other subject matter do you enjoy photographing?

NL: As I mentioned before, I have always enjoyed a lot to do documentary style of photography. This passion I carry out as a photojournalistic wedding photographer. I am proud to say that I am one of only two Danish photographers accepted in WPJA (Wedding Photojournalistic Association; I have a separate website for this: (which unfortunately is only in Danish). And the third passion is landscape photography, where at moment I am working on a series of photos from the Faroe Islands (Very small, isolated group of islands between Iceland and Scotland). Alternating between these different styles of photography brings a good balance to my life.

JL: When you begin to develop a concept for your image do you work alone or with a team?

NL: I work on my own during the whole project. But in concept and idea planning I often involve my client.

JL: Music seems to be your passion. Did you always know you wanted to be a photographer as well?

NL: I didn`t really think so much about it, but I guess I always knew photography would be a big part of my life. The switch from music to photography happened after winning 2nd prize in Canon`s photo competition "The Assignment" in 2008 (more than 16,000 photographers from all over Europe participated in my category). This was the push I needed to step from one profession to another.

JL: What is your preferred camera equipment and lighting set ups for these types of shoots?

NL: I always use very light equipment. I use a single Canon 5D mark II with 5-6 different lenses, both fixed focal length and zooms. For light I use a combination of Elinchrom Quadra battery flashes and some old Nikon SB-26 strobes. This makes it possible for me to work without assistants and I can quickly reposition for another idea if we want to do that.
JL: In some of your images the instruments look like they could easily become damaged. Where do the instruments come from that you use for props?

NL: It`s always very cheap instrument (less than $200) and usually bought second hand for the shoot.

JL: Some of your images seem to break the rules of physics and reality. What tools or techniques do you use when creating these images? Where do you get your ideas from?

NL: Usually I just try to see the world around me from a different perspective. I think it is very fun to do these kinds of photos and to do them without manipulation is a good challenge.
JL: Do you have any words of advice for young budding photographers?

NL: Photograph what you love! You can see it in your photos if you do not have a connection with your subject. And also, it is important to have a niche, something that sets you apart from the rest.

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Sara Cardoza

Sara graduated from the University of Mary Washington in Fredericksburg, Virginia with a degree in creative writing. As a military child she spent her childhood living and travelling overseas which shaped her passion for travel, language, food, and intercultural exchange. She has recently joined the JustLuxe editorial team....(Read More)

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