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5 Minutes With… Goran Liljeberg

Swedish photographer Goran Liljeberg is renowned for his striking macro photographs. Reminiscent of Victorian nature illustrations, Liljeberg captures the profound detail and colour of the unusual bugs and butterflies he photographs. Known for creating our bestselling Butterfly & Insect Prints, we sat down with Liljeberg to find out more about his work.

Goran Liljeberg in his studio

Your photos have become iconic, how did your photography career begin?

Behind my images are a great passion for butterflies and other insects and many years of dedication to photography. The idea to photograph insects was born the day I first had the Nikon D1X-camera in my hand, the first professional digital camera. The year was 2001 if I remember correctly. At that time there was no illustrated books with high quality pictures of butterflies. I wanted to try to capture the butterflies with this new digital camera technique to be used as illustrations in modern books of insects. I succeed in doing this and there was a high demand of my images for a variety of insect books. New camera generations yielded even better results, and now I could make even better and bigger photos. This is where we are today, my images are now on the walls in both private homes and in public environments.

Liljeberg’s butterfly collection

Who or what is your biggest inspiration professionally?

My inspiration comes from the incredible diversity of the insect world. The sheer variety in terms of colour, form and structure is stunning. Likewise the biodiversity. In Sweden alone, there are over 25,000 different species of insects. Through the camera lens I can see structures that are otherwise hidden to the naked eye and it fascinates me.

Preparing for photography

Talk us through the process behind the images.

I borrow the insects from museums and of my entomologis friends’ collections. I also have a small private collection of mainly Swedish insects. In my studio, I have a stand to support the camera with bellows and lenses, and also a little refocusing engine. To get 100% sharpness all through the image I have to take up to 40 different shots with refocusing between every shot. It creates a stack of layers with different areas of sharpness. A software puts the sharpest layers together, and there you have a 100% sharp image. After that there are some work to do in Photoshop and make the layouts to print the different sizes. Macro photography of small insects in large magnification has become my specialty. The goal is to show nature as it looks, with the detail, sharpness and colour gamut required.

If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go?

Without a doubt, I would choose to go to Antarctica to experience wildlife there but above all see the amazing icebergs close by. Unfortunately, there are very few insects there, but you can´t have it all.

And finally, what is the one thing you can’t live without?

My wife and my three daughters.

Click here to explore our full collection of Liljeberg’s work.

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