JOHAN SIGGESSON ‘A Nature Photographer With A Difference’

Several years back, when I first began to see images by Johan Siggesson, my reaction was of immediate engagement. Traditionally, nature photography is generally concerned in documenting and thus, is straightforward. Most nature subjects are notoriously difficult and elusive to capture, which makes creativity quite tricky to achieve. However, Johan’s work is different – it is not only documentative but successful in incorporating artistic and visually captivating elements. His clever use of perspective, slow shutter-speeds and original angles add so much more to his photographs that his images often metamorphosize into works of art and not just scientific evidence.

Johan has now well established himself and has become somewhat of an icon as well as an inspiration to many nature photographers. We are lucky to have him with us on the island as he regularly shares his experience and insights on this fascinating genre of photography with local enthusiasts and nature photographers. He has now regaled us with some amazing solo exhibitions, publications and participation within collective exhibitions. His output is synonymous with professionalism and quality and his regular international forays in exhibitions and competitions regularly attain top results. Not only that, but Johan has pushed the barriers by organising location workshops in various countries around the world. As I can vouch, when teaching one also learns, and he is no exception. Furthermore, his work keeps evolving – and that is a sign of accepting challenges and improving.

This exhibition does not really depict Johan’s past work that was more imbued towards showing movement and exploring creativity. This time round, his exhibits push techniques to the limit and, although at face value, the images ooze documentation, looking in more detail the viewer discovers that the photographer has often managed to humanize his subjects. Exploring the primate images, one feels empathy and even perhaps attachment towards the creature. Their powerful, pensive moods bear this out very well.

The dramatic element that is captured within some of the elephant images sets the tone for us to realize the majesty of this proud animal. The two zebra images somewhat hark back to Johan’s previous work as they do display creativity and perception. When looking at images, I always search for the photographer’s input and that is evident in this exhibition. The monochrome chiaroscuro treatment of the bulk of these works adds to their mystery, as does the clever use of silhouettes and shadows. Some of the photographs perfectly illustrate the menace of the lion. This has been amplified through use of dark and sombre lighting and the ability to capture the ‘decisive moment.’ I love the image depicting the lioness resting in the silhouetted tree. At first glance, the image looks to be simply a tree silhouette but then the viewer is further drawn into it seeing the animal. Is it just relaxing or waiting for prey? I wonder how many hours of patient waiting in adverse conditions Johan has had to endure in order to capture such iconic photographs?

I do congratulate and thank Johan Siggesson for giving us the opportunity to explore and enjoy this exhibition. May he long continue to glorify nature and raise awareness about how to better propagate and nurture such creatures.

Professional Photographer, Curator & Tutor
Master of Fine Arts in Digital Arts (University of Malta)
Technical Co-ordinator Malta National Picture Archive

This can be found as the foreword of the exhibition catalogue book of JOHAN SIGGESSON| AFRICA: LAND OF ICONS.

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