We all have our own reasons for being outside photographing. For some, it’s an excuse to get fresh air, get a break from their work-related stress or it’s simply a way of expressing their creativity but for some, it’s more than just being outside. For some, it’s medicine; a moment where they’re able to disconnect from their daily challenges.
Einar Anbjørn Hansen is a 20-year old autistic man from Norway with a burning passion for photography. For him, photography is more than just an excuse of being outdoors; it’s become therapy and a way for him to let go off all bad thoughts and just live in the moment.
Life hasn’t always been easy for Einar and he’s gone through more than any 20-year old should. However, creativity has been an important part of his life and in 2008 his mother got him his first camera and introduced him to the art of photography.
Can you tell us a little about yourself and how you got started with photography?
My name is Einar Anbjørn Hansen and I was born the 28th of December 1996. I live in a small place named Strengsdal which is located 9 kilometers south of Tønsberg (A coastal town in Norway.)
It was my mom who introduced me to photography when buying me a 8 megapixel Canon PowerShot A580 in 2008. At that time I used it mostly for documenting my day-to-day life. After years of encouragement from my mother, I figured out that I wanted to be a nature photographer. In 2013 my mother bought me a Sony DSC-RX100 and in 2015 I upgraded to a Sony A6000 and now I have an A7r. Sony is the brand I’ve stuck with and I can’t imagine using anything else!
My childhood has been rough at times but my mother has always been there to support me. As a child, I was bullied even by my teachers as they didn’t understand how I actually felt. There’s a lot of bad memories from that period and eventually, it led to me leaving school in November 2014. Life has changed a lot since then. It took a while to discover myself but since I had more time to spend outdoors, my interest in photography started growing and I learned that this is my calling.
I started photographing nature in 2015 but I was still mostly documenting at that time. Upgrading to the Sony a6000 and starting to use different lenses motivated me to begin focusing more on improving my skills and creating better pictures.
Nature makes me relax and I’ve found this to be the best medicine for my autism. I love being outdoors and I love spending time in nature next to others. If I can, I’m happy to share some of my knowledge with them as well. In many ways, nature has saved me.
I’m the type of person who likes to commit 100% so I often spend hours working on one image. Just because I have a diagnose doesn’t mean that anything can stop me. If I have a goal, I will complete it. If I want to climb the mountain, I will make it to the top, no matter what.
Another good news is that I’m allowed to begin taking my driving license. Having the license will help me a lot and that means my mother doesn’t need to drive me everywhere.
What does photography mean to you?
It might sound cliche but photography means everything to me. Being in nature gives me a different type of calmness so photography is literally a great escape when I need it.
Though filming was my main passion while studying, photography has in many ways helped me through the bad periods where I was bullied by both teachers and students. After leaving school it’s become a much bigger part of my life and I’m happy to spend so much time outdoors. It’s also good to have something that keeps me busy during the day.
Despite having many rough periods at school I want to point out that there have also been positive parts of it, especially during secondary school. The teachers there were fantastic and I think that time has, in many ways, formed who I am today.
What do you wish to convey with your photography?
I want to show nature from my perspective and how I experience it. Since I have a strong relationship to nature, photography is my way of expressing myself.
How does being autistic affect your photography? Both positively and negatively?
The positive part is that I find a sense of calmness and can gather my thoughts easily. I’m able to shut out stress and bad thoughts and simply just live in the moment. I love walking in nature so being as much outdoors as I am has a great impact as well. In fact, I’m also more active than ever before; since August last year, I’ve biked more than 1600 kilometers on my electric bike.
The negative part is that it quickly takes focus away from other things and I have a tendency to misinterpret people’s good will as something negative. I also get extremely stressed if something happens to my equipment. Once, I dropped my gear onto the ground due to heavy winds and that scared me a lot. Hindsight, at least I learned something from it!
What’s your photography goals?
I want to show how beautiful this planet is without too much exaggeration. It would be great if I could make money from it but my biggest goal is to share nature with as many people possible. I would also love to have more photography/travel offers and exhibitions.
If money was no factor, where would you go right now?
I like high mountains, waterfalls and woods, so I would go to areas such as Patagonia, New Zealand, Pacific Northwest (USA), the Alps and Iceland.
What/who inspires you?
I’m inspired by how the light, details, and colors in nature behave and change. I have so many role models that it’s hard to choose but the 10 who inspire me the most are Joshua Cripps, Manish Mamtani, Dustin Wong, Lauri Lohi, Dag Ole Nordhaug, Erwin Buske, Perri Schelat, Mark Metternich, Daniel Kordan and Max Foster.
What is your personal favorite image? Tell us a little about it.
My favorite image is this image I took at Strengsdalsvannet the 13th of May at 4:39 AM. There was a thin layer of mist surfacing the water and I was even so lucky that I got the rings from a fish jumping. The air and red color in the sky that I experienced that morning is one of the rare moments that inspire me to keep photographing.
Where do you see yourself in 20 years?
My dream is that I work full-time as a photographer and can capture beautiful scenery all around the world. I also wish to be an inspiration for other people with various diagnoses.
Do you have anything else you want to share?
I want to thank some of the people who mean a lot to me and that have helped me through tough periods. Some of these kind people are Gerd Stiberg, Vera Nordheim, Atle Slettingdalen, Richard Larssen, Grete Øiamo, Anette Sahlsten, Bjørn Magne Dombestein and my mother Laila Hansen which is who made me begin with photography. She’s driven me all across the country and has spent both a lot of time and money allowing me to follow my passion.