Karen Vikke is an iPhone photographer from Copenhagen in Denmark. She has amassed a wonderful collection of minimalist photography on her Instagram feed and with it an enviable following. Her style consists of simple, uncluttered compositions which make superb use of negative space, geometric lines and vibrant colours.
I caught up with Karen to find out a bit more about her approach to her minimalist photography, the compositions and what inspires her about this simple style of photography.
Firstly, could you tell us a bit about yourself?
I live in Copenhagen in Denmark and I love this city. I grew up as a child in the countryside but have lived in Copenhagen all my adult life. I work as a social worker with kids with different handicaps. I have never studied photography but have always been interested in different kinds of art. In my spare time I love going to the cinema, vintage shopping and to explore nature. I also just enjoy walking around in the city, finding new places to photograph.
How did you first get into mobile photography?
I started mobile photography about 5 years ago. I wanted to learn about photography and gave myself the challenge to take one photo every day. At the same time I started to follow some great people on Instagram to get inspired. Slowly I found my own style and I was hooked. I love to take pictures with my iPhone because it is easy to use. A lot of my photos are the unplanned type of shots taken when I walk around. I love that my iPhone can be ready to shoot in an instant.
Your work features a lot of patterns, geometric shapes and negative space. What draws you to these types of subjects and compositions?
I think I am drawn to these types of photographs, because I think they are easy to the eye. I think it is nice to just take a photo of a scene, and strip it down to its bare essentials. It helps to make the patterns and geometric shapes stands out more when there is a lot of negative space within the composition.
Lone people often feature in your work. Is the human element important to you?
Yes, I think it can have a great effect to include a human element in a photograph. I’m especially happy with the effect a tiny person can have in front of a tall building. It helps to give a sense of the size and format of the building. A person can help the photograph to tell a story, especially if it is the right person, the right movement, in front of the right building. When these elements come together it can be magic.
What do you think are the key ingredients that make a good urban minimalist photographer?
I think lines are important in many urban scenes and also make the subject, be it a building, a wall or whatever, to stand out by removing any “noice” from the picture.
What are your go-to apps of choice and do you put much emphasis on post producting processing?
My favorite apps to use to edit my pictures is Snapseed, SKRWT and Retouch.
Snapseed is great for making color adjustments and lightening up some areas in the picture. I often like a white background so will use the selective adjustment tool to brighten up the sky.
SKRWT is the perfect app to help straighten up lines and correct perspective problems. It’s really important to me, that the lines are straight on the buildings and SKRWT helps me to correct these distortions.
Beacuse I love a lot of negative space in my photos the Retouch app is great, because I can easily remove unwanted objects and distractions from my photos.
What would be your top tips for others looking to develop their urban minimalistic skills?
I think my top tip for people who want to develop there urban minimalistic style is just to start playing with your pictures. Start playing about with composition. Remove objects from your photos, use negative space and think about the lines within the scene. Dont be scared to try new things. Often things if you are not sure something will work, very often it actually does work really well but you will only know this when you see it, so give it a go.
If you could spend the day with any photographer past or present who would it be and why?
I would love to spend a day with Irving Penn (@the.irving.penn.foundation). I really love his work, he liked to be experimental and was one of the first photographers who photographed against a plain grey background. I think he was an inspiring person and had a lot on his mind.
Which other mobile photographers do you admire and why?
When I started to use Instagram one of the first people I started to follow was @Konaction. I found a lot of inspiration in his pictures. I think they are creative and he photographs urban scenes very well. I also really love Dirk Bakker – @Macenzo. He is a Master of shapes. @Huxterized is another photographer that I admire. His photos are happy and have great composition which always put a smile on my face.
Could you choose two of your favorite photos and tell us the story behind them?
This picture is taking at the Ireland “Lolland” where so grew up. It was Christmas morning and instead of snow it was a really rainy Christmas. I went for a walk in the industrial area and found this building with a Big puddle in front of. I really like playing with puddels and it Can be another Way to get some symmetri in a picture. I didnt do much editing at this photo, but I removed some unwanted stuff with the Retouch app.
I found theese Houses when I was walking around in Copenhagen some day and I took a lot of pictures of them. I did a lot of editing on this photo. First I used “SKRWT” to straighten them up and make the Lines straight and then I crooped the picture. I took a White background in the “Union” app and then put the houses in. At last I used “Snapseed” to put Extra colour at the houses.