Marco Grizelj and Kristian Krän are two Swedish photographers, operating under the somewhat cryptic name of Aorta. The two met at photography school, where they soon came to realize that they shared the same vision and were working toward the same goal. They also shared the notion that the life of a freelance photographer appeared somewhat lonely. Hence, they decided to form a team. And Aorta was born.
“The actual name Aorta just happened,” says Marco. “I guess we felt that Krän & Grizelj sounded too much like a law firm.”
What do the two of you have in common?
“Hard to say. Well, there is actually one thing we do have in common: none of us is very talkative. Nor do we like to over-analyze stuff. I guess we both believe that you’ll kill the joy of photography if you think too much about it. We’d rather just trust our gut feeling.”
Can you tell us a little about the images in this article?
“The first images were done for 125 Magazine. It’s a fashion and arts magazine. It’s pretty thick and there is almost no advertising in it. They give you a certain theme, but other than that, you’re pretty much free to do whatever it is you want to do. In this case, the theme was ‘art.’ Kristian and I brainstormed for a while and came up with this idea of an alien that travels to earth, determined to have a deep and profound art experience. So, he goes to an art museum, he visits the Museum of Natural History, he approaches some cows in a pasture and so on. Nothing happens. But then he experiences the sunrise and things get a little better…”
How did you do the alien? Did you use computer graphics?
“No, it’s just a guy in a latex mask, wearing a thong. We don’t do computer graphics, simply because we don’t know how to do it. But, of course, we do use Photoshop a lot and we like to cut and paste objects and limbs from different images to get exactly the result we have in our heads.”
What about the rest of the images?
“The second series of images was shot for an ad campaign for Monki clothing. In fact, we’ve done a couple of campaigns for them. This is just one of them. And the final series of images was also done for 125 Magazine, but on the theme of ‘luxury.’ As you can see, the images portray a rich girl going to rehab. I think we were inspired by the TV show Celebrity Rehab, which was very popular around the time.
How does Aorta work with light?
“It’s rather complex, I’d say. To be honest, we sometimes get tired of ourselves for overcomplicating stuff. But we can’t help ourselves. We take a picture, look at the result and go: hmmm, wouldn’t it be nice with a little highlight over there? Then we shoot again and go: hmm, perhaps we should light up the shadows over there some more? But light is, of course, very important.”
Can you give a little bit more specific?
“Lighting is crucial when it comes to bringing out the shape and the structure in whatever it is you’re shooting. Let’s say you’re shooting an apple. Just think of how beautiful its shiny surface is and how interesting its shape is. But if you put matte makeup on it and light it with a softbox, it will just look flat. The same goes for a face. A face with makeup, lit with a softbox, is just two eyes and a large mouth. Personally, I think it looks weird and definitely not very interesting. That’s why we prefer to work with reflectors and hard light. That way, you get much more of a 3D feel in the images. It makes the subject sort of pop out from the page.”
And what lighting equipment products do you mainly use?
See more of Aorta’s images at their website.