Signature artist of the month
His mastery of light and affinity for capturing real people make iStock by Getty Images photographer Jeff Bergen one to watch. He continues to push the boundaries on his technique and the topics he photographs, resulting in imagery that is both relevant and striking. Learn more about April's Signature Artist of the Month.
On a whim, he applied to a competition where the winners got to participate in a three-year internship with renowned stock photographer Yuri Arcurs in Cape Town, South Africa. Bergen was one of 120 photographers selected for the two-week competition and went on to win first place overall. Following the competition, he relocated to Cape Town where he worked under Arcurs, learning everything he could about stock photography.
“Normally, when you start in stock, you work your way up to doing large scale productions, but we immediately got thrown into the deep end," he said. "I learned so much working with Yuri; he taught us how to command your set and how to really push the shoot in the direction you want to go.”
"There’s a connection that you gain when shooting someone and that’s what’s special to me.”
Now that he’s completed the internship, Bergen continues to develop his style and shape his portfolio as an iStock by Getty Images photographer. While he is focused on creating imagery that is relevant for customers, he likes to incorporate his interests when possible.
“Growing up in a major farming area in Canada, much of my time was spent in the outdoors. I‘m really drawn to shooting wide-open spaces and exploring ideas like man versus nature,” Bergen said. “Shooting in nature can provide a wonderful sense of solitude. If you're out by yourself in the middle of nowhere, photography is a great way to capture how you felt in that moment.”
Although Bergen values his time alone in nature, he also loves the exchange of energy that happens when working with people on set.
“The thing I love about photography is connecting with the people I shoot. Recently, I’ve been shooting fewer models and have been focusing more on real people and friends. I try to keep my photos very simple and real; it may not necessarily be the most beautiful thing, but it’s true to who they are,” he said. "There’s a connection that you gain when shooting someone and that’s what’s special to me.”
To keep himself motivated and passionate about photography, Bergen makes sure to set aside camera-free moments in his life.
“Photography can easily consume your life—I could take my camera everywhere with me but I’ve realized how important it is to keep certain moments sacred,” Bergen said. “Being present and truly experiencing life allows me to draw from those times and create real imagery because I know how I felt in those situations. Preserving those special moments from photography can really help you when you’re shooting.”
As he continues to grow, Bergen hopes to shoot more concepts related to social movements around the world.
“I’m trying to move in a direction where I’m shooting more women in traditionally male roles. There are definitely inequalities occurring that need to be addressed and the world is starting to respond to that,” he said. “My hope is that one day we’re in a place where young boys and girls are dreaming of the same kinds of goals. Companies are showing their stance on issues, so they’ll be looking for that imagery and we should be ready with it.”
Each month we give away a free image from our Signature Artist of the Month. Download yours now and start creating your own inspiring project.
"I try to make an effort to get away with friends and get outdoors on the weekends and evenings when I'm free. In this case we were headed up the west coast of South Africa and found a great spot to camp. I brought my gear to take some pictures of the guys over-landing and off-roading through the trails there. After we finished shooting we set up camp. I didn't shoot a lot that evening and we were up quite late sitting around the fire but when the sun started coming up in the morning I couldn't help myself and got up to take a few pictures quietly. As I was out shooting one of my friends got up and walked over to the waters edge. It was almost candid until he saw me and I told him to move over for a better shot. "