Living the Surrealism

November 19, 2018  13:12  |  Let’s talk

Gabriel Isak

The Illumination in the Dark – “The Blue Journey”. Photos – Gabriel Isak ©

The mysterious feeling appears after looking at the works of the photographer Gabriel Isak. It brings the surrealism that we have seen from the past works of art to the modern world. It catches the attention and the viewer is left in a trance moment where he tries to discover what the message Gabriel is sending to him. We spoke with the photographer about his works and what is the message that we can try to read in the photos.

How did you develop an interest in photography?

I began to explore photography around ten years ago when I faced depression as a way to express my state of mind. I picked photography up again to make it a profession in 2014 after I had battled the depression after a 7-year long struggle. Since then it has evolved into a medium that I use to document the internal and external world that we live in.

 Gabriel Isak - SwO magazine


Blue Moon - SwO magazine

Blue Moon

Exactly what it is you want to say with your photographs, and how do you actually get your photographs to do that?

I want to reflect on human experiences such as melancholia, solitude, existentialism that in turn will make the spectator reflect on their own journey. I do this by portraying most of my photographs anonymously in order to not distract from the mood the photography is portraying.

By looking at your selected photos, you seem to work mostly with natural light, has this been a conscious decision for your personal style?

Yes, I have always enjoyed working with available light. To me artificial light gives the photograph a more commercial look, something I am not striving to achieve in my Fine Artwork, but where I try to achieve a painterly and surreal feel to the image which natural light helps me with.

When it comes to the works you have made, which gave you the most experience and made you look different in photography?

The first project I created that began in 2014 and ended in 2016 titled “The Blue Journey”, a series that first began as a fragment of memories of the time I faced depression in my life that I wanted to portray using myself of symbolism and surrealism. As the project evolved, I realized how much it was inspired by the years I battled melancholia and helped me to put a finish to that experience in my life.

Duality - SwO magazine


Entities - SwO magazine


Is there another type of photography you are looking to move into?

I work mostly with Fine Art photography, which is the area that has always interested me the most as I want to continue getting my art out to art collectors and galleries around the world. I have also and sometimes work with Fashion photography which I have been enjoying as it has been switched things up in my personal work and given me new insights on new elements that inspire me and how to work and deliver something for a client or a magazine, mixing your personal vision with theirs.

Your work “The Battle” brings the feeling of surrealism. How would you describe this project?

“The Battle” is one of the first images I created in 2014 when I picked up photography. The image is very personal to a self-portrait and me. I wanted to depict a photograph that symbolized the battle with depression I had faced in previous years prior to the photo and did so by using myself of smoke that almost takes up the whole photograph, which symbolizes the battle with the fog one feels when depressed.

The Act of Creation - SwO magazine

The Act of Creation

The Girl and the Shadow

The Girl and the Shadow (Prelude)

How do you cultivate your vision for the photoshoots?

I mostly begin with doing research for the project that I will be creating and brainstorming before I start to sketch out the images that will be created. Then props are decided, location, mood, colours, model, outfits etc. Every photoshoot I create is 90% of the time very planned. The remaining time is if something does not go as planned on set, especially when working outside and I have to improvise to make the vision work.

“Duality”, “The Red Line”. What was the main concept of these projects?

“Duality” is a project that portrays the condition of being dual and the instance of opposition between two subjects that are portrayed in the series. The photographs capitalize on the duality of light and dark, alone and together etc.

In “The Red Line”, I am exploring self-portraiture through symbolism in a series that covers the events I have been through, which have shaped who I am today. Facing depression, letting go of the burden from the past, and starting over have been documented through a red thread symbolizing the scars left behind and the pain from each story.

Let Go (Th Blue Journey)

Let Go (Th Blue Journey)

The Red Line

The Red Line

What is your favourite image in your portfolio and why?

It keeps changing from time to time but “Let Go” has always been one of my personal favourites in my work, an image that I couldn’t figure out how to create at first and failed 3 times before getting it right the 4th time I photographed it. In addition, the concept of “Letting Go” is something that speaks deeply to me in the photograph, especially to the time it was created in 2014.

In three words, how would you describe your work?

Surreal, melancholic and symbolic.

The Battle

The Battle

The Shadow and the Self

The Shadow and the Self

Peace of Mind (The Blue Journey)

Peace of Mind (The Blue Journey)