/ Arnis Balčus / Portfolio

Albert Elm

I got acquainted with the young Danish photographer Albert Elm (1990) in Riga, when I was interviewing Jacob Aue Sobol. Elm had been assisting Sobol for several years, but lately they have been travelling around Russia each working on their own project. Being outspoken and candid, Albert immediately asked about the opportunity to publish his works in FK Magazine. In contrast to most of the young photographers, Elm has not got his webpage. However, there are several interviews on the internet in various magazines, for example, Vice and GUP. Elm was born in Jutland, Denmark and studied at the Danish School of Photography Art. Currently he lives in Glasgow, where he is studying Fine Art Photography at the Glasgow School of Art. He is also about to issue his first book What Sort of Life is This, with which he has participated in several dummy festivals and contests.

How did you start taking photos?

I started to play around with cameras at family gatherings, when I was a child. One day my cousin lent me his SLR camera and I started to take pictures on school trips and of my friends.
When I was about fourteen, my dad got a new job and we had to move across the country. 
I had a hard time settling down in the village we moved to. I missed my friends and the life I used to live in Odense. Being by myself so much gave me a lot of time to explore photography. I brought a camera along when walking the dog and went out at night to take night photos. Photography became something I just did without thinking too much about it. When I was sixteen, I dropped out of high school, because I knew I wanted to do something with photography. But I was too young to start at the schools I was interested in. So I took off with a training ship and sailed for a while. I started to be more serious about photography, when I started to study at Fatamorgana in 2008. 

How much there’s fiction and reality in your work?

To me it’s all real. Because what/who I am taking pictures of is real or made by real people. But you can, of course, suggest that something is surreal depending on what/who you make a picture of. And how. By approaching a subject from a new angle.

Tell us a bit about your experience assisting Jacob Aue Sobol. How did it affect your own work?

Before I started assisting Jacob, I was working full-time on a ship. I wasn’t able to do my own work. I didn’t have the energy and inspiration for it. 
So it was good timing, when Jacob took me in as his assistant after sailing for a while. 
I was suddenly working with photography every day on a professional level. 
So the lust for taking pictures quickly got back to me. 

I had the freedom to start over again and find my own language. Working with Jacob has definitely influenced how I work today. You just learn a lot when you have the time to work with photography every day. That’s probably the biggest influence, a lot of experience in a short period of time.

You explored China and Russia together with Sobol. Tell us about the most bizarre moment you have had there.

Jacob peed on the fence of a Russian border guard station. The only place in town where you shouldn’t take a piss. We were under interrogation for almost an hour. But they let us go and we didn’t miss our train.

What project are you working on now?

I’m shooting all the time and I’m not sure where all the images are going. But I’m working on a couple of different projects. I’m finishing a book project and starting a couple of new ones. Right now I’m focusing on the project I’m working on in Russia and China. Jacob and me are going back to Siberia this December on a train route from Novosibirsk to Yakutsk.