Solveig Bergli Selj is a Norwegian photographer who has expanded her portfolio tremendously since 2008. During this time she has become a very respectable portrait photographer as well as a fashion photographer. Solveig has never been afraid of choosing her own path which also reflects in her work. You can definitely feel the heat of the moment in her captures. They are real, delicate and fragile. Most of her work is shot in surroundings using natures natural light.
With editorials for several international magazines and an exhibition in New York, it seems like her hard work has paid off. Today Solveig combines her busy life as a growing photographer and being a mum to the most wonderful girls.
Vongole gold earrings from Annie Berner
When and how did you get into photography?
I needed some time off from my theoretical studies at the University. I decided to take one semester at Bilder Nordic School of Photography, just to do something different. One semester quickly became 2 years and during a workshop with the talented photographer Julie Pike, I fell in love with photography using natural light! As I have always loved fashion that quickly became an important part of my pictures.
If you want to be relevant in the creative industry, you have to have a constantly updated portfolio and deliver high quality work. How did you get a foot on the inside?
I reached out to press agencies to get a hold of clothes that were not yet out in stores, in order to do speck editorials while I was working on my portfolio (2008). After a while I had enough material and several editorials published so it became easier to put together a team of professionals. When I had people taking care of make-up, hair and clothing I could concentrate on photographing and communicating with the model.
I have also been working closely with model agencies for both test shoots and editorials. When they knew what kind of quality I could deliver they gave me more established models, which also increased the quality of my work.
Most people have a dream when they are young, of what they want to become. Did you always know that you wanted to become a photographer?
I grew up in an academic family which came with certain expectations. I kind of knew that I was the odd one out and preferred the creative way of expressing myself. Even so, I gave academia a try and undertook a Bachelor degree in digital media at the University of Oslo. It was during my Master degree that I realised that this was not for me and that is when I choose photography. My parents are not at all surprised that I ended up with a creative profession although they tried their hardest to steer me into their academic world.
What is the biggest challenge of being and independent artist?
The challenge between commercial jobs that you have to do in order to get a suitable income and still keep your artistic integrity. How much should you compromise? I try to keep my own personal projects going, even during the busy times. This helps me to keep focused and keep developing as an artist.
What is the most memorable experience you have had as a photographer?
Best experience…That is a tough one. I feel like I have had a lot of good experiences through my whole career. But my first “breakthrough” happened when I was a student, I was ranked at the top of “Gullsnitt” (then called “Utsnitt”), a prestigious photography contest in Norway. Right after I graduated I became an ambassador for Nikon and it felt very huge to have a big brand like that believing in me. The year after I travelled to Italy to do an editorial for the Italian fashion magazine Studio DModa. They had already used one of my earlier specs and appreciated my work so much that they booked me for another one. This was a real milestone for my career. Following this I have done editorials for several international magazines but, to give an answer to your question, I have to say that my most memorable experience in my career has to be when I was offered to be a part of an exhibition in New York. It was really an honor to get to display my work with so many talented photographers. It was a real dream come true!
Purple shirt from Moirè and knit sweater from Christina Ledang
What was the idea behind the exhibition in New York you were a part of?
The exhibition highlighted the photography of fashion as an art form. All the photographers had very different interpretations, and most of them chose work they already had in their portfolio. The pictures I displayed was a selection from different editorials I had done over the years.
Next to being a professional photographer you're also a mum! How is the juggling from being a super mummy to a photographer?
The juggle is real! The days do not have enough hours, for sure. But having a husband, friends and family that help facilitate when it is necessary is a goldmine of worth. When I got the opportunity to exhibit in New York with 20 amazing fashion photographers I did not hesitate with accepting, even though we did not have a kindergarten for my then 1 year old little girl. But on the other hand, I love spending time with my kids and family. In our spare time, I take them to cultural events such as the theatre, concerts and exhibitions. I like treating them to all that the city has to offer.
Where do you get your inspiration from?
Music, films, fashion, nature, cities or other locations, people, art, basically everywhere! For fashion shoots, I get very inspired by clothing. I love to go to fashion shows to see the latest collections and get my mind working on different ideas.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years and what dreams are you aspiring to as a photographer?
It is hard to say. Since I had my first child three years ago the fashion market in Norway has changed a lot. Many magazines are downsizing and more editorials are being purchased from sister magazines in other countries to keep the expenses down. I might have to look elsewhere for exciting jobs, or even abroad. I do not mind travelling. My dream is to be able to work with fashion photography all over the world. To shoot interesting models in amazing fashion design on breathtaking locations around the world.
Vongole gold earrings from Annie Berner and white shirt from Moirè
Photography in slideshow by Solveig Selj
All photography by Marthe Thu