My words, thoughts and photos from a Swedish perspective

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Genstigsbrännan

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Time for a short Swedish lesson! A “bränna” is an open space in the forest created by fire. The first time was about 150 years ago, but there has been at least one fire since then. Many species find the conditions they need in such places. I’m no biologist but I do appreciate the opportunities the give photographers. I think this place has something magic.

The enchanted lake

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This summer has not been much of a summer with regard to the weather. The sunny days are easy to count while the rainy and windy days are countless. Anyhow, we had nice photo weather for a couple of hours one day last week so I took a drive and managed to take a couple of photos.

My absence from the blog

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I have spent much time on working with models and began with portraits, fashion inspired shots and continued exploring other fields such as fitness. By coincidence I began working with male models. Why? The first model who contacted me happened to be a man and I still remember how nervous I was when on my way to meet him. It didn’t take long before I understood that male models are not so much in demand. I won’t label myself as feminist, but equality between man and women should not be something strange or odd in today’s society – but it was only too obvious that the model business had other thoughts on that topic. Of course I knew I couldn’t change that, the agencies must provide what the market demands, but I could at least try to make a difference, no matter how small it is and decided that I would give male models a chance.

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Later, a model told me that he knew a photographer and had asked him to take some pictures of him. His photographer friend turned it down by saying “No, I can’t do that, it’s too difficult”. Women can of course do more when it comes to posing, use and take advantage of their curves etc, but that is simply not reason enough for leaving roughly about fifty per cent of the population out. Ok, men are seldom as interested in modeling as women are, but there are a number of male models who are interested in creating images as model. Before you ask – yes, I have photographed female models as well and I’m happy to do it.

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Ok, I have obviously learned something, because I don’t think of taking pictures of a man as “difficult” but one has to work from a different of thinking and posing. A different kind of light is often necessary. I will now contradict myself. Equality between the genders, definitely – but men and women are different and accepting that fact is, in my opinion, one step further on the road. Translated to photography it means that one should avoid things that works better on a female model. For instance, a high key shot often works better on a female because they can wear the makeup needed without giving peculiar vibes. I would not dream of asking a male put on a bright red lipstick only to be visible in the shot and to be honest, I would not dare either.

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After having explored the standard repertoire, I felt it was time to widen my horizon and try out new fields. To create Fine Art was interesting and I even dared to try Fine Art Nude after a couple of years. I’m not reluctant to shoot nudes, but restrictive and ask myself a number of questions before I eventually go on with the planning.

Doing more artistic shots was and is fun, but one needs models who are interested in doing this and they don’t grow on trees. I also realised that I had to make a number of decisions to use as guidelines in my work before I could proceed on that path.

This business is full of stereotypes. Women are cute and often very feminine, men are strong, handsome and successful. Referring to sex one way or another is also popular, probably because it has been made an easy and convenient shortcut to popularity made possible by changes in society and the way we see and talk about it nowdays.

Different tutorials showed a huge variety in poses for women and could explain it all in an almost scientific manner. There are hardly any tutorials on how to pose men and the few I found showed maximum two poses and stated “Do like this – it will always work!”. Was this what I really wanted to do?

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No, it was not! My decision was that I would not concentrate on exposing the human body only – expression would be my cup of tea. Having admitted that men and women are different, I thought I could also take advantage of this knowledge and at least try to show some of these differences.

A young woman who has a problem in the relation with her Prince Charming will probably discuss it for hours with all her friends and collect all the hints and tips she possibly can get on how to solve it. The man will probably try to solve it on his own and keep quiet about it, eventually he may confide in one of his best and closest friends. I am exaggerating here, I know, but I think you follow me now.

Showing the body from an aesthetic point was another of the decisions. Many photographers take photos of the human body… focusing on that particular body’s features only and with a rather static result/expression. Using the body and its shape as part of the composition in order to express and convey something is more to my taste. Suitable light setting is a must, of course. This was, in short (!) what I wanted to try my luck within. Maybe this can explain and show some of the differences in thinking between men and women?

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Well, that remains to be seen. The important thing is not to say “No, I can’t, it’s too much” and so on. If we all do what we can, it will make a difference sooner or later and that’s what matters in the long run.

The series of images I have used in this post is from a series I shot called Under the surface we are all vulnerable human beings and the model Tobias T shows how a man copes with his problems on his own – as he is expected to if he wants to be thought of as a man. Many problems are easy to solve, but there are occasions when big decisions must be made. The problem can also be beyond our control; somebody else is responsible for the solution and there is not much we can do about it except to wait and waiting can be nerve wrecking. This goes on around us daily, but it is not much spoken of and that was my reason for taking these pictures and make it visible.

I hope you enjoyed them.

 

On vacation

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I am currently on a couple of weeks’ annual leave and spend my time in my holiday home. There are obviously a number of energy thieves around me, because never before have the last weeks before the annual leave felt so long. My tradition is that I stay in Stockholm for a couple of days and clean up the apartment before I go and this year was no exception, but my God what an awful lot a junk I had collected here, there and everywhere. Well at least it looks decent now.

My lust for experimenting woke up the other day. I have used both infrared filter and the HDR technique on these images. They may not be to everybodys taste, but one cannot like just about everything, or…

One has to learn the foundations of photography of course, but as soon as one has got hold of them, a wide and interesting field of experimenting lies ahead. Some experiments turn out well while others may not end up with the result I had expected or wanted. Lesson learned in both cases and that’s the main thing.

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Next week I will go to the north of Sweden. I haven’t been there for ages; last (and second) time was in 1980. The weather has been miserable this summer and I don’t expect any miracles, but one can always hope for acceptable weather conditions. My family comes from the north of Sweden, so I will explore places with at least some history related to my ancesters. This time I will kind of have a look around, but my intention is to go back now and then with the camera.

The Swedish photographer Sune Jonsson documented a way of life up north that was about to change in the 50’s and 60’s. He realised that he was there in the very last minute and has left us with a treasure of the day to day life back then. Times are always changing so I wonder what I will find.

I have also been thinking of future photo sessions and I have also got this idea that I would like to exhibit and, hopefully, also sell a photo or two. To tell you the truth, I haven’t the slightest idea of how one does that and get started, but I hope I will find out one day.

 

New technique, new attempts

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I have recently taken up experimenting with HDR images as a new hobby of mine. A couple of panorama views over the city last Sunday can pass for a decent attempt.

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A slight turn to the left and the camera can capture more of the city centre. The white yacht in the foreground is Barbara Hutton’s old yacht. It is hard to believe that her yacht should end up here, but it’s true. What the construction works are for? They are building a new railway line for commuter trains and they are currently building an underwater tunnel. The works are said to be completed in 2017.

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An old brewery is now home of many different companies and schools. The politicians wanted to tear the building down in the 70’s but the public opinion managed to stop this. The demolition of the city centre in the 50’s and 60’s was enough.

It was late afternoon when I took the picture, but I have already decided to go back another day and explore the premises further.

 

The spring is on its way

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Last Sunday was warm – well at least above the freezing point – and sunny so deciding what to do wasn’t difficult. A walk with the camera and get a hint of the season to come was the choice. As usual I left the path the majority use when I found a smaller one to see what I could spot there.

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It didn’t take long for me to find some interesting spots. Unfortunately, one doesn’t get much of silence in the woods when the city is waiting around the corner and maybe I’m spoiled after a number of walks in Kopparberg.

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This is probably not the last we will see of snow this winter, but the spring was definitely in the air and I enjoyed every minute of my walk. Yesterday was also sunny, warm and full of puddles created by water from the melting snow. All this together put a smile on my face on my way home from work. A wonderful season is to come soon.

A quite different assignment

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I have two collegues who are members of an 18th society and they got the idea to make a calendar with photos of 18th century paintings as source of inspiration. The members had selected a number of original paintings with an erotic tone and they wanted to create similar photos with themselves as models. This was a rather unusual idea and I accepted the assignment.

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It goes without saying that “erotic contents” was not the same back then. A stolen kiss or a woman’s leg were daring things to show in a painting. They also had loads of symbols which the 18th century people understood and by using these symbols, much could be said without actually showing it. Seen with our modern eyes they all seem very innocent.

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Being a painter must have certain advantages for they can take liberties with light. I can’t and have to accept that the light goes where I aim the flashguns and that’s it. The atmosphere was also important, so they were all shot in an 18th century house where we recreated the scenes from the paintings with what we had at hand. In all, we spent three afternoons shooting 13 pictures – one for each month and a cover picture – and it all went smooth and I’m happy that I accepted this assignment.

 

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