Interview with Artists
Photographer Niels Johansen
Niels Johansen lives and works Downtown. The moment he opens the door you know you are entering an artist’s studio. A baby- grand juxtaposed to an electronic piano dominates the space. And his toys: cameras, tripods, a device to photograph from helicopters. Three large editing screens fill a corner.
Technology is as important as talent now days, or something to that effect said Martin Scorsese speaking at the Tribeca Film Fest.
Do you agree?
NJ: Sure. That’s the effect of the digital camera revolution.
I have to ask about the pianos. He started as a musician. Born in a farm in Denmark, his parents had the foresight to recognize talent and entrusted him to a music teacher. They warned him. The teacher had a reputation, meaning he was homosexual. Having that teacher cured him for good of homophobia. “He was the best teacher.” Soon the teacher knew he couldn’t teach him much more. He recommended that he continue his studies in a conservatory. After boarding school, Johansen went to the conservatory in Madrid to become a concert pianist. By the way, the baby-grand piano accompanied him throughout Europe and the US.
How did you come to photography?
NJ: To shorten a long story, let’s say love, death and several marriages got on the way of my concert pianist career. I refocused (no pun intended) to photography.
Let’s talk about the diverging directions your photography is taking, form commercial—architecture and interior design—to art.
NJ: I don’t think one can fully separate the two tendencies. The difference has to do with schedules, and objectivity. Art it’s subjective. Art is a search for perfection, but we are imperfect creatures in an imperfect word. Achieving perfection can be an endless pursuit. Photographers call this pursuit creative curiosity. Commercial art, on the other hand, is based on defined objectives. That doesn’t mean excellence has to suffer.
Raúl Guerrero is a journalist, historian, and writer specializing in women’s struggles and language. He is the author of numerous works, notably the novels INSOLENCE and La dudosa fuga de la cronista LIBERTINA. He lectures frequently in Florida and New York.
Contact him at RGuerrero@salonespanol.com
Johansen’s work has appeared in publication worldwide, including the New York Times. He’s considered one of Miami’s top commercial photographers. He’s found success, yet, that creative curiosity is pulling him more and more, particularly cinema.
NJ: Like all else, it’s a question of finding the right balance. Finding