Tranquility and Balance: Steen Doessing
With some photographers’ work you can just glance through and get an appreciation for what it is they do. Others you can sit and stare at for hours and be fascinated by the story they create. Steen Doessing‘s work seems to be in a class by itself. He doesn’t create stories with his images. What he does is create art
Self-taught, Doessing shoots mainly in black and white. His images speak of a world that is ethereal and dream-like. Using water as his primary subject he strives to show tranquility and balance in a world that at times can be filled with stress and unbalance.
We are told as budding photographers to look at other photographers’ work, to study it, to figure out the technique, to understand what draws us to it. I have done that with a LOT of photographers and it becomes work. It is almost like being back in school and taking a test on what I’ve learned and how far I still have to go. It can be taxing. From the moment I found Doessing’s work, though, it was anything but tedious. I was drawn in. I realized I did not have to study it. His images don’t ask that of you. All they ask is that you look and feel.
Doessing says, “For me, photography is a visual medium that offers me the opportunity to express the way I see and feel things around me. Photography is paramount to me and acts as an outlet for my creative energy. If I didn’t have this I’d do something else creative like playing an instrument or painting.” I think he feels like most of us do about photography. Even if I never make a cent on my pictures, I know I could never stop shooting. Born and raised in Denmark, Doessing got his start in photography when, at the age of twelve, his dad gave him an old Agfa 120 box camera. He soon became hooked. He learned how to develop his own film and built himself a darkroom. He would spend hours experimenting with light and shadow.
Doessing’s work is largely influenced by his environment, which for most of his life has been encompassed by water. In fact, water is the subject of most of his photographs. For him water represents the power of nature, life itself.
When you look at his photographs you can not only see calmness and tranquility, but also the tension that builds. There is an amazing sense of balance in his images. Using long exposures he is able to capture movement and fluidity which contrasts with the static objects. This balance blends together in a perfect union of tension and release. Doessing says that shooting in black and white also lends to the sense of tonal balance. “Color to me distracts from the inherent graphical qualities of a photograph. Black and white leaves the viewer free to create his/her own impression and feel of the shades and tones and most importantly to create his/her owninterpretation of the emotion of a image.”
And that is exactly it… his photographs leave an impression, an afterimage, if you will. They are almost like abstract paintings. Even though you know what it is you are looking at you, that isn’t necessarily what you see. What you are seeing evokes a sense of peace and beauty and the life that surrounds us.