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Two Photographers Collaborate to Explore Bipolar Disorder in ‘Between Intervals’

By Hanssie on October 7th 2015

A required course for most undergrads is Psychology 101. In that class, we explored some of the basics of the mind, of thought processes, and took personality tests in an effort to learn a bit more about our own states of mind. There is a lot of literature about psychology – its concepts are easily documented with the written word, but to photograph the different states of mind, of course, that is interpretive and not something you often see. But fine art photographer Maren Klemp wanted to further explore mental health and represent the darker sides of the human mind with visual representations specifically of mental illness to help educate people on the effects and emotions experienced by someone who is struggling.



She began the project, “Veil of Fog,” and sought to share through images, the state of mind of those gripped by darkness, isolation and sadness. The images, “tell about the lack of belonging, to live in a separate world that few or no others can enter or understand. It’s about the fog that comes creeping, which overpowers and paralyzes, the invisible disease.

Through her work, she connected with American professor and landscape photographer Jose Escobar on Flickr. They realized that their work, “spoke the same language,” and so last year, Klemp flew from her home in Oslo, Norway to Charleston, South Carolina to collaborate on images that were compiled into a book that focuses on Bipolar Disorder, titled, “Between Intervals.”

The first challenge between the collaborators was integrating Jose’s landscapes with Maren’s portraits. This highlighted the connection between nature and the human mind for Maren. Since the collaboration, nature has become more integral in Maren’s work. The next challenge was to portray the feelings associated with Bipolar Disorder. Using experiences described by mentally ill patients, such as “coming in or coming out, emerging and entering, sometimes trapped, with a feeling of isolation from others and the rest of the world,” and the description of feeling like they are “inside an organic membrane from which it is difficult to emerge,” helped Maren create images that portray the struggle of mental illness.

Many times they feel they have been marked by the grip of darkness, touched by a sense of sadness, of not belonging, of living inside a world where few can enter and understand.

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Maren uses a Canon 5D Mark II, a Canon 50mm f/1.4 and a Petzval 85mm lens. Maren also is very meticulous about what she photographs. She abides by a strict rule that she not pick up her camera unless she has a clear idea of what she wants to photograph. She will take weeks planning, sketching, making notes and looking for inspiration in music, books, and movies, before grabbing her camera. She finds that this rule makes it easier to create the photograph she imagines.

You can see more of Maren’s work on her website here, as well as find out more information about the book here.


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CREDITS: Photographs by Maren Klemp are copyrighted and have been used with permission for SLR Lounge. Do not copy, modify or re-post this article or images without express permission from SLR Lounge and the artist.

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Hanssie is a Southern California-based writer and sometimes portrait and wedding photographer. In her free time, she homeschools, works out, rescues dogs and works in marketing for SLR Lounge. She also blogs about her adventures and about fitness when she’s not sick of writing so much. Check out her work and her blog at Follow her on Instagram

Q&A Discussions

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  2. ken weil

    Maren, I have to say that it explains more. Very interesting. And scary. So basically you’re saying that these images are not giving a viewpoint from the “clinical” definition but your personal one. I am still very curious then to see images you would do relating to the other side of bi-polar. The stuff i mentioned. I hope you do. If so please let me know.

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  3. ken weil

    I live with bi-pol(not me) and even though the images are nice when I look at them they don’t say bi-polar to me. They say trying to be artistic using different forms of this and that. Adding things to the image. But not bi=polar. I understand the photographer spoke to bi-polar people(hopefully more than one) but their missing something. The photog. speaks about what the image/s are about which ,which is good, but it is still missing the bi in this bi-polar which to me might help with the overall feel. The bi i am talking about is not the sadness but the other side which is the up. the crazy. the aggressive side. the sleeplessness. The irrational side. The side that makes you think this person is smoking meth for days. Once again I see the photographer tried to give an artistic side with all sorts of interesting subject matter. But bi-polar? Well maybe part of it.

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    • Maren Klemp

      Ken, thank you for taking your time to comment my work. I would like to inform you that the reason I started this project is because I was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder myself, and I decided to be totally open about it. My images explores my own experiences with being bipolar, and I only use myself and my children as models. I consider these images to be honest and true.


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  4. Jade Beall

    i LOVE this series, thank you for sharing this awesome work.

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