INTERVIEW / KIA HARTELIUS: PHOTOGRAPHER

Up-and-coming photographer, Kia Hartelius, took some time this week to chat with Atlas about her rapidly blossoming career.

Kia Hartelius is a Copenhagen-based photographer who works in fashion photography. “I grew up in a small townhouse in the suburbs of Copenhagen,” says Kia, describing herself as “a tomboy. I loved climbing trees, playing war… today I think people would describe me was quite feminine, but I’ve always gotten along the best with boys.”

She lived in London after completing her sociology degree. “I was trying to find my feet, and somehow I started photographing.” Once she started, she couldn’t let it go. Her only formal training was from the Danish School of Journalism for a BA in photography, but she quit after a few months. Since then, she has been figuring it out her own way.

Though a more traditional photography education is in the past, Kia found a different path that works for her. Currently enrolled in Mastered’s photography program, Kia says it’s “all about working with yourself, your goals and career. Mastered offers guidance, mentors and coaches, but really it’s up to you to make it or break it!” She applied because as a freelance creative, she finds it important to have a guide for her career. “You can’t just lean back and expect to have things served on a silver platter–– so if you work hard and take opportunities that come to you, you [could] get plenty of really good experiences with the program.”

Equipment wise, Kia always shoots digitally for commercial jobs–– she cannot live without her Hasselblad! On top of that, she owns lots of old analogue cameras that she shoots with. “I spend my free time shooting all sorts of things with–– people I meet on the street that inspire me, travel photos, random everyday moments.” She defines her style as “colorful, graphic and unisex,” adding that she likes to work with characters and street cast. “I look for special features that make a person unique and stand out.”

Kia’s long term goals are simply laid out. “To be happy. To be free. To travel the world. To be a caring and present mother, wife, sister, daughter and friend. To be able to support my kids in whatever crazy dreams they might have; just like my parents always supported me.” As for her biggest career goal? “I would like my images to awaken some emotion in people. I won’t dictate whether it’s disgust or fascination as long as my images make people take a stand. My worst nightmare would be if people [were to] look at my personal work and just think ‘whatever’…”

Her inspirations lie in faces, characters and personal style. “On top of that, my colleagues inspire me. I have a handful of colleagues that I work with very closely on all my personal projects and I couldn’t do nearly as good [of] a job without them.” And finally, her advice for other up-and-comers in photography: “Experiment! Don’t be afraid to fail. Sometimes you excel and other times you fail. When you fail, you learn the most. Take your failures as small victories in your learning process… Don’t get caught up in chasing commercial work. Work on your own personal aesthetic/style and clients will come to you when the time is right.”

Thank you, Kia, for your inspirational words! You can follow Kia @kiahartelius.