Jacob Aue Sobol
All The Things We Have in Common
“I’m always seeking intimate moments with another person.”
The Danish photographer Jacob Aue Sobol’s photographs are deeply immersive and explore vulnerability, intimacy, and connectedness themes. Read more …
“I walk up to people, look them in the eyes, and tell them, I think you look interesting. I would like to share something with you, and I would like to make a portrait of you. Some people react by running away, and some people do the opposite; they move closer. They keep looking you in the eyes.”
We met the Danish Magnum photographer and visual artist Jacob Aue Sobol in his home on Fejø, a small island in Denmark. From here, he photographs makes exhibitions, spends time with his family – and fish.
Sobol started fishing when he lived for three years in Greenland. It was also here that his visual output began to develop.
“It was in the wintertime, and it was very dark, so I started to use a flashlight there. Part of my style and visual output started in Greenland from using this flash, which also created more contrast in the pictures.”
With a distinct and captivating style, Jacob Aue Sobol seeks to connect us as humans, and he uses black and white photography to create a direct path into the viewer’s inner emotions. His work is a reminder that photography is a powerful tool for empathy and becomes a window into the hearts and souls of those he photographs.
“My work is about what we have in common. Why we are the same, it’s about connecting us as humans.”
Jacob Aue Sobol was born in Copenhagen, Denmark in 1976. A photographer and member of Magnum Photos, he has published several monographs of his unique, expressive style of black-and-white photography and exhibited his work widely. His images focus on the universality of human emotion and the search for love within oftentimes harsh surroundings.
Jacob lived in Canada from 1994 to 95 and Greenland from 2000 to 2002. In Spring 2006 he moved to Tokyo, living there 18 months before returning to Denmark in August 2008. He has traveled extensively in the years since, photographing in Siberia, Thailand, Mongolia, America, and China while staying based in Copenhagen.
After studying at the European Film College in 1998, Jacob was admitted to Fatamorgana, a Danish documentary and art photography school. In the autumn of 1999, he went to live in the settlement Tiniteqilaaq on the East Coast of Greenland. Over the next three years, he lived mainly in this township with his Greenlandic girlfriend Sabine and her family, living the life of a fisherman and seal hunter and photographing. The resulting book, “Sabine” was published in 2004.
In the summer of 2005, Jacob traveled with a film crew to Guatemala to make a documentary about a young Mayan girl’s first journey to the ocean. The following year he returned to the mountains of Guatemala, where he met the indigenous Gomez-Brito family. He stayed with them for a month to tell the story of their everyday life. The series won first prize in the Daily Life category of World Press Photo in 2006.
In 2006 he moved to Tokyo and during the next two years, he created the images for the book “I, Tokyo,” which was awarded the Leica European Publishers Award in 2008.
Following his time in Tokyo, Jacob worked extensively in Bangkok, resulting in the 2016 book “By the River of Kings.” In 2012 he began photographing along the Trans-Siberian Railroad and spent the next five winters photographing in the remote Russian province of Yakutia for his project “Road of Bones.” He has ongoing projects in Denmark (“Home”) and the United States (“America”).
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