From travel diaries to limited edition books to portfolio magazines, Flemming Bo Jensen knows his way around the printed page. An interest in photography, journaling, and music inspired his first book projects at a young age—and he has been documenting the world in unique ways ever since. Dan Milnor checked in with him to learn more about his creative life as a photographer and his MagCloud project, Loop.
1. You now work full-time as a professional photographer but you had several prior careers. Tell us about your IT life and your DJ life, and how did these careers influence you becoming a photographer?
I was only ever a hobby DJ, and I still am. I have been into electronic music since the mid-90s, way before I actually started photographing music. It definitely gives me a really important understanding of and connection to the artists at music events. My career as an IT-professional was not something I think influenced me, but it is at times quite helpful because there is quite a lot of software and hardware involved in being a professional photographer these days.
2. When did you really commit to photography and what was it about photography that interested you?
I have been photographing as a hobby since 1997 but it was in 2007 during a three-month trip to Australia that I really decided that I wanted to make photography more than an interest. I wanted to somehow make it a big part of my life. I love the idea of freezing one brief moment in time that maybe no one even noticed when it happened.
3. Did you take workshops, learn online, go to school?
I have done a few workshops and would like to do more. No formal photography education, but I have over the past 15 years or so used online communities and YouTube heavily to learn different skills. The most valuable education really though has been time, continually working at finding my vision, my style, my expression and then constantly trying to be better than the last gig.
4. Travel has also been a huge part of your life. Was photography connected to the travel from the beginning?
My first solo travel was at 18 years old, I went to London for a week. I had a small film point and shoot and I made snapshots and I wrote a travel diary. Returning home I had the film developed and I typed in my diary (on an Amiga 500, that maybe tells you when this was!), printed it out, and glued and pasted together my own travel photo diary from London. I have always dreamed of having my own magazine so I thought this was really cool and it made photography and writing a huge part of travel for me.
5. You currently shoot for Red Bull and a variety of other clients. I’m guessing that the vast majority of your images are used in digital form, online, social, etc. So why continue to print?
Exactly because all my work is mostly used online. I love big wide-angle scenes with lots of things happening in one frame and they need big projections or big prints to really work, not a tiny phone screen. When I really got into music around age 10, I bought several music magazines every week. I love magazines and wish they were still around. I used to dream of having my own magazine. Fortunately, we can do that nowadays!
6. What does going to print force you to do as a photographer?
I don’t print as much as I would like. But you can get away with doing so much crap to the image on screen (I should know, I do it a lot) but this won’t work on print. Print is where you can tell if your picture actually works and you have to be much more careful with processing. And if I am making a book or a magazine, editing for print is so much more fun and harder because the sequencing and the number of pages really means something. And not just for the cost, it means something for experiencing the book.
7. How do you utilize your print pieces once you have them in hand?
I make books or magazines for different reasons. Some years ago I made some big book projects to sell and I sold out both limited edition projects. That was great, but lately, I just make some magazines for me so I get to have my dream of having my own magazines. They are just one-off prints, just for me. I do also make printed portfolio magazines to carry around, it looks a million times better than having someone browse your Instagram feed.
8. What is the response when you hand out a tangible item?
It is funny that handing someone something printed now almost makes people look and ask “how is this possible!” As if pictures can only live digitally. Just that fact makes people look and appreciate the pictures more. Lots of people ask “can I have/buy this?” Hmmm, maybe I should make another for sale book!
9. Tell us about Loop, your MagCloud piece. What was the goal?
I remember using MagCloud ages ago to try out the magazine format. Then about a year and a half ago, I wanted to do a small inexpensive portfolio magazine that I could just give away. The MagCloud Digest is absolutely perfect for this. Somewhere I got the idea of doing a book that was half colour and half black and white but flipped so you “loop” the magazine and start over in either colour or black and white. So it has two covers, and the same intro at both ends of the magazine. Now that was fun to watch people figure this out! I gave them all away to a great response from artists, friends, managers, etc. I am not even sure I have a copy myself anymore. Bonus when doing a flipped magazine: You get to stand on your head to proofread half the PDF!
10. Your print experience took on new relevance this year as you landed your first traditionally published book. First off, congratulations, that is a huge accomplishment. Tell us about this book and how it came to be.
Thank you, yes this a major dream come true. It is not my book though, I was the photo-editor on the project and I also have a fair amount of my images in it. The book is a visual journal of a very popular Danish band called The Minds of 99, from their start in 2012 up to now. It features the work of many outstanding photographers and also features all their lyrics and photos of lots of memorabilia, notebooks, old drum sticks, etc. I have been working closely with and documenting this band for years, and last year this idea about a photo book really kicked into high gear. I was asked to be the photo-editor so I had the big and exciting task of creating, organising, and editing down a huge library of images gathered from many photographers who had worked with the band. Finally, I had an edited library of amazing pictures (all titled, keyworded, etc.) covering everything from their very first recording session in 2012 up to 2019. I could then deliver this to the band and book designer, who then sat down together to design the book and create the final selection of the bands very favourite images. I am super proud of having been a part of this book, it is a huge coffee table book that looks amazing. But as I said, I just played a part in it, many fantastic people contributed to it. The very best part of it though is that it is a book for the fans. This is a book that will be seen and worshipped by thousands of fans. This is very exciting because it takes it out of the closed world of photography, I am not so much interested in making pictures or a book just for other photographers to like, this one is for the fans, fans who are not into photography as such but appreciate the incredible pictures of their favourite band.
Travel journals, photo books, and magazines give you a unique way to organize ideas and preserve memories. Do you have a personal or professional creative project you’d like to see in print? Find the perfect format today!