CLOSE UP: TONJE THILESEN,
HER ARIZONA

 

The photographer shares images of her recent trip to the Southwestern state.

 

"Over memorial day weekend, my friends Hundred Waters were throwing their release party at the alternative community Arcosanti in Arizona...Arcosanti is a futuristic complex majestically located on a desert hill, an hour drive out of Phoenix. People go to retreat from the urban madness. It's a safe haven, a place to find silence...We stayed for three nights." – Tonje Thilesen describing the photographs above, shot using a Contax G2.


 

Tonje Thilesen, 22
Berlin-based, hailing from Oslo, Norway

[Editor's note: Per Thilesen's request, the email interview below was kept in the format in which it was received, i.e., "u" was kept as "u" and so forth.]

What do you shoot with?

I have an expensive Canon camera that people keep stealing from me ---

Your cameras tend to run off on you…

I must have done something really, really bad as a teenager 'cus I literally have 0 karma.

When did you start taking photographs?

I spent a lot of time in nature growing up. I picked up my dad's camera at some point and was like, this is cool. And when I turned 15, I went to New York's B&H Photo Video and bought a Canon 20D and some crazy ass macro equipment. I should send you some of my whack nature pics lol.

Why do you take photos?

I don't make any music, and 90% of my friends are insanely talented musicians. I am absolutely not, nor do I aspire to be, so I figured I'd do something useless with my life, like 'being a photographer'. But u kno, I love to see my friends develop and succeed as musicians (or creative people in general). That shit tears me up (in the good way). As long as they are happy, I am. I just happen to be around to document it.

What or who do you like to shoot the most?

More real, less platonic people.

Do you find New York to be an inspirational place?

 

When you’re not taking photos you are…

Staring at a white wall in my room listening to emo.

If you weren’t a photographer what would you be doing?

Playing in a mediocre dad rock band.

TBH, maybe try to actually make a difference for someone instead of just feeding my own artistic ego.

Who’s your favorite photographer?

I know very, very little about photography.
In general, I like to say that I am mostly inspired by sounds, not imagery.

It is not entirely true tho.

I know some ppl who are talented as fuq and every single image they put out kills me: Lydo Elise LeLandon SpeersFaith SilvaErez AvissarFlorian Fleischauer • Katrin ThomasBrian Vu

And these guys: Alison ScarpullaBryan DerballaKristine JacobsenSandy KimGeordie WoodCharlie Engman

What do you think makes for a great photograph?

Light.

Could you share a memory or moment you've had behind a camera that stands out among the rest?

I was in Chitwan, Nepal some years ago and decided to bring my camera out into the river (I walked out until the water reached my neck).

Some kids were playing, and one of them jumped off a small hill and into the river, a perfect dive. I caught him mid-air (below).

Then turned around, and there was a goddamn elephant behind me.

I stared at the elephant, the elephant stared back.

I did not photograph the elephant.

Then I walked out of the river.

The end.









 

For more of Tonje Thilesen's work: http://tonjethilesenphoto.tumblr.com/.