Photographer Christer Berg arrives without a camera in hand when he first meets the subjects of his portraits.
That’s because before he ever composes a shot or measures the light, Berg wants to get to know the people whose images he seeks to capture. He wants to hear their stories and figure out how best to represent them in a single portrait.
“That’s the fun thing: getting to know the people and giving other people who have never met them an impression of who they are,” he said.
“People with Purpose: Photographic Portraits,” an exhibition of Berg’s work, is on display at Litmus Gallery Friday during the city’s monthly art gallery walk. An opening reception will be held from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.
The exhibition features large-scale portraits of people who contribute to the community, from artists and writers to activists and chefs.
Berg strives to capture the essence of each person in his work, with the goal of conveying their passion and commitment to his audience – and even to the subjects themselves.
“When I give them the print, I want them to feel that it’s truthful,” he said.
Berg, 51, a native of Sweden, has worked as a software executive in the Triangle since 1995, helping start-ups get off the ground.
As a teen, he enjoyed photography as a hobby, but he had long since set it aside as he worked and raised his family. Two years ago, though, he stared snapping photos again on vacation, which led to a renewed interest in the art.
Berg quickly moved from taking photos of landscapes to live musical performances and then onto portraits.
It’s work that’s allowed him to learn a bit about the lives of everyone from the receptionist at his children’s elementary school to well-known Raleigh lawyers.
Along the way, he’s gotten to know a circle of local photographers through camera clubs as well as artists who work in other mediums. He loves the cross-pollination of ideas that comes with getting to know painters, sculptors and other artists.
“It’s been so much fun to be part of the arts community,” he said.
Berg said that one important part of seeking out people who contribute to the community is that he’s always getting ideas from others about who matters to them, and learning bits about the city along the way.
“That’s what I love about this. It’s so social,” he said.
Litmus, 312 W. Cabarrus St., is open Saturdays from 10 a..m. to 2 p.m. and by appointment. Call 919-571-3605. A closing reception for the exhibition will be held from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on June 28.
More of Berg’s work can be seen at cb-photography.pro/