Kristoffer Kippernes is an adventure photographer from Trondheim, Norway. His portfolio shows off his specialty – mountain bike photography – well enough that Mattias Fredriksson recently invited Kristoffer to participate in the Scandinavian Photo Challenge. Although his team placed 5th, Kristoffer took home awards for Best Scenic Action, Best Close-up Action, and All Mountain. (check out the behind the scenes video here)
He’s also the third Scandinavian Photo Challenge photographer to answer my interview, joining Fredriksson and Grant Robinson, which simply proves how accessible today’s top shooters are to new photographers.
10 Questions with Adventure Photographer Kristoffer Kippernes
1. I’d like to start out with that “ah” moment when you realized your life would be tied to a camera instead of a more tangible career. How did it happen?
KK: Photography was always something I was very fond of during my childhood, but it took me a couple of years before I realized that this was something I wanted to do. After I finished high school, I was sick and tired of everything related to sitting on the bench learning stuff I had no interest of. So I took a year of, worked, and then went to “Folkehøgskole”(a slightly different type of school) for two years. There I had focus on just riding my bike and skiing, while making videos of it.
After some time I started using my still camera more and more, and I guess it was during that process I slowly realized that I wanted to pursue that dream.
So you can say that it all happened over time, nothing that struck down like lightning.
2. I notice your website biography is light on words, descriptions, and information. Do you feel like it’s more important to let your images speak for you?
KK: Both yes and no. I do feel that the main focus should be on images alone, but sometimes words make the images better and vice versa.
3. Your editorial portfolio is mostly full of biking images, with a few ski, skate, and running shots thrown in. How important is it for a young photographer to diversify their portfolio?
KK: Well that depends on what you are trying to accomplish, really. On one hand, you’d like to show that you are capable of doing different types of pictures, but on the other hand, it is smart to sit down and think through why you want people to hire you. If you like doing a lot of different stuff, then diversity is the key, if you want to specialize, then focus on that in your portfolio.
There is really no absolute correct answer to this question, but those are my thoughts.
4. Your client list is diverse and split between editorial and commercial clients. Can you break down your work for me:
a)What percentage of your time is spent on Shooting? Editing? Marketing?
KK: I would say perhaps 45%-45%-10%.
b)What percentage of your income comes from editorial clients? Commercial clients? Stock? Other Sources?
KK: I guess 80% editorial and 20% commercial
c)Which type of client gives you more freedom in terms of work style and vision?
KK: The magazine TERRENGSYKKEL. I’ve been working with them more or less regularly for the last three years, and they’ve been extremely important to me and my career in terms of progression and challenges.
5. This is a simple question, but I feel it is important for newer photographers. How long did it take you to get started, to begin earning a living from photography, and what did you learn in that process?
KK: phew….I don’t know exactly, but it took me at least the first two years to get started, and trying to earn a reputation and getting work. What I learned? That hard work is more important than anything. It’s a lot of trial and error, and constantly trying to get better.
6. Taking into account any adventure, contest wins, publications, images sold, is there a single moment or frame that stands out as a career highlight?
KK: That’s a tough one… I’m lucky enough to travel a lot, since I mainly shoot pictures of biking, and I’ve seen so many beautiful places and met so many fantastic people that it is hard to pinpoint anything, but attending the Scandinavian Photo Challenge in Åre this summer was really special. Just being invited to such an event was a huge honor to me, and I had an amazing week there. I got to shoot tons of pictures, met some amazing people and had great fun all week. Big thanks to Mattias Fredriksson for inviting me!
7. Successful photographers often balance two roles: creative professional and businessman. What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned in both roles?
KK: When it comes to creativity, I think seeking inspiration is very important. If you do that, you eventually develop some sort of taste for what you like, and maybe that way you can get new ideas yourself.
Business: Never sell your copyright, unless that’s a part of an agreement, and don’t give away your images for free.
8. What’s the best advice you can offer to an aspiring photographer hoping for their first big opportunity or assignment?
KK: Don’t expect it to come out of nowhere; you have to earn it, either way. Practice a lot, and build up a portfolio that shows consistency and good work, and back it up with hard work ethics, and you’re on the right track!
9. What is your favorite new trend in action sports photography? Least favorite? Biggest change in the past 5 years?
KK: I don’t really have a good answer to that one…
10. What three people – be it friends, family, photographers, athletes or anyone else – provide your greatest source of inspiration?
KK: Phew…only three?? Chase Jarvis is a photographer I discovered early on as I started to get more into photography, and he has fascinated me ever since. Stunning images, super creative, and shares a lot of everything via his social media sites. Behind the scenes videos, conversations, how-to´s, you name it. He is an important photographer of our time, I think.
My brother is really important to me. He is pursuing his career and dream of being a professional mountain biker, and is working so hard to achieve his goals. Ever since I first took him out on a mountain bike, he has excelled and is now one of the best mountain bikers in Norway. Naturally, he has also appeared on a lot of my pictures, and stood up for me that way.
Øyvind (editor), and the magazine TERRENGSYKKEL as I mentioned earlier on, is very important to me. Always new challenges on the line, new places to go to, and pictures to be shot, I get inspired just by working with that!
As always, I need to throw a big thank you towards Kristoffer Kippernes. I always appreciate hearing different answers and seeing great photographs and Kristoffer has given us both. You should check out his website and blog to see more great images.