Creating space with Simon Birk

This summer, our Associate Creative Director, Stine Nielsen, traveled home to Denmark to spend time with Copenhagen-based photographer Simon Birk. They spent the afternoon taking photos and chatting about family, self-expression, sunlight, and creating space for what matters most.

What are a few words that describe who you are and what you make?

I'm a freelance photographer living in Copenhagen with my girlfriend and our daughter.

Do you remember when you first identified as a photographer?

It was not until I had my first paid job that I considered myself a photographer. It had to be my profession.

Could you tell us the story of your home?

We live on a quiet street with trees in Frederiksberg, Copenhagen. It's the place I moved to find some peace while still being in the city. It's also where we are creating a little family.

What does the family love to do together?

We love to go out, but with a baby, we mostly cook dinner at home and hang out around the dining table in our living room. Sometimes we spend a weekend at my parents' summer house in the Danish countryside.

What spaces have you been using the most?

Our living room—it is spacious and bright with trees outside the window.

What have you been creating more space for at home?

Our daughter—we live in a small apartment and have had to reorganize most of our belongings to create space for what she needs.

What role does creativity play in your life?

Creativity plays a huge role in my work as a photographer. Sometimes when I’m not able to find that creativity, I end up with an unsatisfying result, so it’s a big deal.

How would you describe your creative process?

It doesn’t come easy. 99% is hard work for me. Typically it starts with thinking things over and over again, and discussing ideas with the people involved in the project in advance. During the shoot, I know what the plan is, but I try to let go of myself to improvise and create something extra. Then again, some of my best work comes out of not knowing what I’m doing. It can be frustrating.

What do you hope people will take away from your work?

I hope it will inspire people in some way. Even if it’s just a color tone, I think it’s worth it.

What role does light play in your work?

In the wintertime, I wish we lived in California. Daylight is my preferred light. Natural, soft, and unpredictable. When shooting with artificial lights, I try to replicate the softness and authenticity that sunlight offers.

How about in your home?

Plenty of daylight. It helps me get up in the morning.

What tips would you give for experimenting creatively?

Think less, do your thing, and do it over and over again. It will be different every time.

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