PHLEARN MagazineInside the Bag (and Mind) of Surrealist Photographer Erik Johansson

Inside the Bag (and Mind) of Surrealist Photographer Erik Johansson

Looking at a photograph created by Swedish visual artist Erik Johansson is like looking into another dimension.

Unlike many other photographers, the goal of Erik’s work isn’t to simply capture moments and memories – it’s to capture ideas. Using his camera and his endless imagination, Erik combines his photographs to create impossible scenes with a heightened sense of realism. As he describes it, his pieces showcase unlikely places made to look as though they could actually exist.

Can you tell us how you go about deciding which gear is essential to your work?


Since I work with combining a lot of images, the realism has always been very important. I think the realism often is in the details, and therefore a camera that can capture all those details is very important.


Hasselblad H6D-50c Medium Format

50MP 43.8 x 32.9mm CMOS Sensor, 16-Bit Color, 14-Stop Dynamic Range

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Hasselblad H6D-50c: This is the camera I use for every project. I love not just the resolution and details, but also the way it captures colors, and the depth of the medium format RAW files. It’s not the fastest camera, but it fits the way I work perfectly – slow and well-planned.


Hasselblad HCD 24mm f/4.8

Aperture Range: f/4.8 to f/32, Improved Shutter Unit, 1/2000 Sec Sync

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Hasselblad HC 50mm f/3.5 II

Aperture Range: f/3.5 to f/32, Improved Shutter Unit, 1/2000 Sec Sync

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Hasselblad HC Macro 120mm f/4 II

Aperture Range: f/4 to f/45, Life-Size 1:1 Maximum Magnification

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Hasselblad HC 210mm f/4

Aperture Range: f/4 to f/45, Improved Shutter Unit, 1/2000 Sec Sync

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Hasselblad HCD 35-90mm f/4-5.6 Autofocus Lens

Aperture Range: f/4-5.6 to 32, Improved Shutter Unit, 1/2000 Sec. Sync

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Hasselblad H lenses – 24mm, 50mm, 120mm, 210mm and 35-90mm: I use the 35-90mm zoom lens the most, as it’s pretty all-around but at the same time very sharp. Since I usually plan my shoots long in advance, I usually know which focal length I need for any specific image.


Profoto A1

Li-Ion Battery: 350 Full Power Flashes, High Speed Sync, LED Modeling Light

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Profoto B1X 500 AirTTL

Profoto B1X 500 AirTTL Flash Head with 500Ws adjustable in 1/10 f-stop increments over a 9 f-stop power range

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Profoto A1, B1X and Pro7b: Great on-location, powerful lights with a wide variation of light modifiers. I love the Telezoom and Magnum reflectors for throwing light over long distances, and in that way, create a sun-like feel to the light.


F-Stop Tilopa: Great big customizable bag, where you buy the bag and then buy the inside compartments based on your needs. In my opinion, it’s a lot more durable and practical than a lot of other bags out there.


iWorkCase: Great case for shooting with the computer on location.

Although Erik works on commissioned projects with clients from around the world – including Google, Microsoft, National Geographic, Adobe, Volvo, and Heineken – the amount of work that goes into each of his images means he can only accomplish between six to eight new pieces for his personal collection each year. To further explore Erik’s version of reality, check out his portfolio on Instagram, Facebook, or his website.

And for more on his creative process, check out our interview with him.

Jessi Gowan

Jessi Gowan is an award-winning writer and photographer who specializes in rural landscapes and fine art abstracts, with a focus on form and composition. Her photography has been included in a variety of publications, as well as in exhibitions in Canada and the United States.


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