New York based photographer Pontus Höök is a great visual storyteller who has been shooting for Scandinavian newspapers and magazines in the US for more than a decade. He is also known for his photo blog: A Swede in New York that features documentary pictures from the streets of Manhattan among other things.
Lighting for photo: –Where are you from?
Pontus Höök: – I grew up in Tranemo, Västergötland, which is one hour southeast of Gothenburg in Sweden.
Lighting for photo: –How old are you?
Pontus Höök: – I’m 38.
Lighting for photo: –How long have you been into photography?
Pontus Höök: – My interest in photography started in High School. They offered photography classes and I thought it was heaven to walk around aimlessly and just shoot pictures of people. My father understood I was serious about photography so he remodeled our sauna at home to let me use it as a darkroom. When I was 18, I started out as an intern at the local newspaper Borås Tidning. Now I have been living in New York for the last 13 years, and I’m working primarily for Scandinavian publications.
Lighting for photo: –What is your dream assignment?
Pontus Höök: – My dream assignment would be to go on a road trip throughout the US and to shoot great pictures of people I meet along the way.
Lighting for photo: – What is the most common mistake beginners make when it comes to lighting?
Pontus Höök: – Beginners can make it more complicated than it has to be. I’m all for keeping it simple.
Lighting for photo: –What is your worst photo experience?
Pontus Höök: – It was probably when I was asked to shoot pictures of a CEO for a big American company, and he left after two shots. Thankfully, I still got the picture needed.
Lighting for photo: – What do you think of the thin line between image adjustment, enhancement, editing and manipulation in documentary pictures? What is acceptable?
Pontus Höök: – Some of the documentary pictures that you see in different photo competitions are so heavily photoshopped that it’s more art than anything else. Since these pictures make it into the competitions it is somewhat given a stamp of approval. That alone blurs the line between what is documentary and what is art.
This is why I think it is very important for newspapers and photo agencies to have a clear picture policy.