I have always had a big heart for brutalism and architecture in Eastern Europe and in recent years I have become very fascinated by more contemporary and classic architecture.
Based in Copenhagen, Denmark, Kim Høltermand weaves in his intimate history with personal subject matters to create images that capture melancholic emotions of landscape and architecture. Kim’s photography often conveys an atmospheric stillness with articulate perspective. We sit down with Kim Høltermand to talk about his practice, ideology, and the concept of colours and tonality.
How did you encounter the field of photography? Did it find you or did you find it?
I have always been a huge fan of photography but it wasn’t until 2008 I bought my first camera; a DSLR to bring on vacation, and I had no prior knowledge of how to operate a camera. I started looking at tutorials and the same year I moved into a house that used to belong to two landscape architects. They had several subscriptions to architectural magazines that they had failed to end and I just started reading them and got fascinated by architecture and thought, “Why not start photographing architecture?” I shot some series and uploaded them to the Behance platform and the rest is history.
How did spatial matters become the main subject of your photography?
I think my fascination with architecture runs very deep as my late grandfather used to be an architect and that minimalism, lines, and composition has always been something I found fascinating.
What is space to you? How do you frame it in your compositions?
I don’t have a recipe as such. It all happens when I am photographing the architecture/structure. It’s like I have this HUD display that comes up in my mind and I just shoot what I feel looks great. But technically I always shoot using a grid and try to compose my work so it feels harmonious and balanced. However, I also like trying out experimental angles, and angles that are not so ordinary and by the book.
Can you share one of your most memorable shoots? What was special about it?
By far my most memorable shoot was my series called ‘TUVE’ from 2010. I was in Sweden for a whole week and had brought all my equipment should the miracle happen that there would be fog, but instead there was blue sky and sunshine all week. But on the day of my return I woke up early and pulled the curtains in my cabin and I couldn’t believe my eyes. It was the fog of a century outside! I quickly put on some clothes and boots and ran to the nearby lake—called TUVE. I had not prepared anything in terms of what to shoot but at the edge of the lake there was several rocks mirroring perfectly in the calm water. I shot them and the epic surroundings for about an hour. Slowly the fog lifted and I remember walking back to my cabin thinking this is gonna be one of my most memorable series. And I had no idea what was to come. In 2015 a hotel was built in Hong Kong called TUVE, which was inspired by my series from lake TUVE. This has been the biggest compliment ever and an experience I will never forget.
What is considered a beautiful image to you?
I think what makes a beautiful image for me is that is has mood and that you can feel it. It speaks to me in a certain way. It can be an image of anything in the world, not just architecture or landscape. I have always been a sucker for mood.
How do you determine the value of a photograph? What is the notion of value to you?
I think I value images by how much they mean to me. What went on in making them. Thoughts. What went on in my life at that time. A lot of stuff.
How do you decide the colours and tonality of a photograph? For instance, when to leave it in its original condition, when to manipulate the colours, and when to turn it monochromatic?
For many years I have worked with concept series or building a concept when I am at the shoot. I can be inspired by music (a lot) and a concept of colours and tonality builds slowly in my mind, and sometimes I have to wait for the right weather conditions in order to make my concept into a series. But I have a very vivid imagination and scifi has had a big influence on that, growing up with endless amounts of scifi TV shows and movies. I try to put a little of that scifi DNA in all my work.
Often, artists tend to keep their commercial work less apparent or even completely hidden. What is your view on the polars of personal and commercial projects?
I like to show a little bit of everything in order to give the full impression of what I am capable of as a photographer, but have always cherished my personal work more than my client work. I am just thankful that a lot of big clients have chosen me and my style, and it makes it so much easier to continue to do this knowing that a lot of people appreciate my work. My recent work has been for T: The NYTimes Style Magazine—a story about Danish designer Nadia Olive Schnack and her beautiful home in Copenhagen. I am so happy and honoured that they chose me.
Analysing your published work, it’s clear to see that you have an appreciation for architecture. Is there an architect whose work you particularly admire?
Not one but many. I have always had a big heart for brutalism and architecture in Eastern Europe and in recent years I have become very fascinated by more contemporary and classic architecture. If I should mention only one it would be the late Zaha Hadid. She produced absolutely amazing work.
With the rise and quality of smartphones, becoming a photographer seems more accessible than ever. What is your take on this current ‘phenomenon’?
I think if you stay unique and faithful to your craft you will always be ahead of the pack. A smartphone doesn’t make you a great photographer. Sure it can help you, but you still have to see and feel things. I believe a classic photography style will never fade, but at the same time must evolve.
Are you currently reading anything? What books or magazines you would recommend to our readers?
No books at this time as I just haven’t had the time, but I regularly return to my books on brutalism and architecture such as Frédéric Chaubins ´CCCP: Cosmic Communist Constructions Photographed´.
What is your favourite basic geometry?
What is your favourite place in Copenhagen?
I think it’s (Rundetaarn) the Round Tower in central Copenhagen. Genius architecture and such a beautiful space.
Is your work predominantly localised or do you often travel? Are there any interesting locations you’ll be visiting soon?
I have been mostly working in and around Denmark but have been doing more traveling and hopefully will be doing even more. Of places I would love to go to and photograph, it would be Svalbard, Antarctica, Norway and a tour of Eastern Europe, but also Japan.