Jacob Aue Sobol was born in Copenhagen, Denmark, in 1976. He lived in Canada from 1994-95 and Greenland from 2000-2002. He felt that every photograph he took had to be connected to his deepest feelings. When he realized his work stopped illustrating these emotions, he quit photography. But just for a while. I actually can relate. You come to a wall, and only distancing yourself from that inner blankness eventually frees you. Kind of like writers block.
Luckily, he overcame, only to come out the other side and making “I, Tokyo”. Jacob Aue Sobol’s work always seems to get compared to Daido Moriyama. But, I don’t see it. Maybe it’s his trademark style of very high contrast black and white. But the perspective is all off. No, this work is all Jacob Aue Sobol. And some say he repeats himself. I call it having a ‘style’. Something I’m very much in favor of. Did Andy Warhol repeat himself? I suppose. But when you see a Warhol, you know it’s a Warhol.
Jacob Aue Sobol “I,Tokyo” photos are in your face, and beautiful. And I want the shooters out there to think about the physical closeness when using a semi-wide or wide lens. The intamacy of the images. Not using the vouyerism of distance to take an image. In other words, I’m saying there is much here to admire and emulate. A photographer doesn’t need to be groundbreaking with every click of the shutter,…but at least grow a pair.
He attended the European Film College, and the Danish School of Documentary and Art Photography in 1998. While there he developed a very unique and high contrast style of black-and-white photography. In 1999, he went to live in Greenland. Submerging himself in the culture. For three years, he lived with his Inuit girlfriend, Sabine. A girl and her family that became the subject of his first book. Living the life of a fisherman, a hunter,…and a photographer. The result was a passionate and stark look at a world most never see.The eventual 2004 book, “Sabine”, was nominated for the 2005 Deutsche Börse Photography Prize.
In 2005, Jacob Aue Sobol traveled to make a documentary about a young Mayan girl in Guatemala. The following year he returned to Guatemala to tell the story of a mountain family and their day to day existence.The series won the First Prize Award for the World Press Photo of 2006.
In that same year, he moved to Tokyo. During the next two years, he created the images for his book “I, Tokyo”. The book was awarded the Leica European Publishers Award of 2008. In all these travels, he mostly used a Ricoh GR1s, a Contax T3 and a Contax G2. He used just the Ricoh for “Sabine”. One of his greatest quotes is, “We all love Ricohs until they stop working.” Truer words were never said. Although for the Leica Project, “Road of Bones” he did lovingly use the Leica M Monochrom. Check out his site below, and enjoy his books. They are well worth having in your collection.