My words, thoughts and photos from a Swedish perspective

Staffan tries to think

The world we live in

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There are occasions when I wonder what’s going on here. As you probably are aware of, the situation in the Middle East is anything but satisfactory and the consequence is that Europe is currently being “invaded” by refugees from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan. There will be many problems along the road, but have we ratified international conventions, we better keep our word and should try to make the best of the situation. The way things are now means that we must all try to help and do what we can to solve the problems and issues. There are a couple of countries within the European Union that try to sneek away from their responsibility to share the burdens equally and that is not ok.

There are, of course, voices that advocate that we receive refugees and claim that “Sweden is already full”. Freedom of speech is protected by law and we are all entitled to have an opinion, but there are a few who go far beyond their rights and demonstrate what they think by burning down possible refugee lodgings. A real low mark was hit last week when someone set a refugee lodging which was in use. Luckily nobody got injured but such behaviour is frightening.

Another tragic thing happened in a school in Trollhättan last week, a school where many young immigrants studied. A young Swede, only 21 years of age and full of hatred, got in to that school with the aim to kill with a sword and knives. Four persons died from that attack, including the offender and social media are doing their best to keep the fire burning.

Despite this, I still prefer to be naive and believe that mankind is good and hope that everything will settle in due time. If not… well I guess we will all look like the house on picture to this post.

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About men

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Model: Tobias T

I won’t label myself as a feminist only to be branded as “correct” but I do believe in equality and equal rights. Some time ago I read a statement saying something like “There won’t be any true equality between men and women before we also bring mens’ problems up to discussion”. My reaction to this was first “What?” and the next second “Yes, that’s right”. There will be no real changes unless we understand what stops the progression and why. This may, in some cases, mean that we will have to seek other paths on the way forward, but it won’t matter in the long run.

It was a pure coincidence that I made me work mostly with male models. When I decided to begin photographing models, I had no portfolio to show and one is not likely to get any sessions without a portfolio to sort of showcase what one is capable of – claiming long experience is not enough. I had to accept facts and wrote that I didn’t mind working with beginners. The first model who contacted me happened to be a young man and I accepted to do a session with him faster than the speed of light.

It was at this stage, after a couple of weeks in the amateur model world, that I understood that male models weren’t precisely in demand. The site, or rather, community I had became a member of had some male models but only three of them shared the opportunities to get photographed and to be a little creative. The rest seemed to be invisible and this meant that I saw a load of opportunities to get pictures, experience and opportunities to show my work and it worked!

My intention was to switch over to female models, but a friend of mine wondered if that was a smart thing to do, because I had by then a kind of niche and would leaving that be good for me? He was probably right, so I stayed with mainly working with male models. I learned from a couple of them that very few photographers wanted to work with male models, mostly because they thought it was too difficult, they claimed they didn’t know how to photograph men and so on.

Not admitting that there has been times when my choice felt a bit embarrasing would be like telling you a lie, but I kept working with male models (and I don’t care what people may think, I’m not ashamed of it). I also looked for tutorials on YouTube and found many more or less scientific hints and tips about how to photograph female models. There weren’t many tutorials available on the subject “Male models” and the few I found suggested one pose – two at the most – assuring that it would always work. Maybe it will, but using one or two poses would mean that my work would look “same, same but different” – in other words more a matter of swapping models, possible use a different light setting now and then. How very creative… not!

In most cases I have been old enough to be the models’ father and I have learned a lot from them about what is going on in a young man’s head today. It is often a battle between the stereotype and the individual’s own personality. There is a kind of role model one should try to be like, but what if your personal qualities, interests, body or mind doesn’t comply with it? I believe many often are acting; they behave the way they think they should when others are near and can see and/or hear them, but can relax by being themselves when among family and, probably, a few carefully selected friends.

Probably needless to say that this solution causes trouble and problems and as I wanted to do more than just classic portraits and standard model pictures which I think lack expression, I decided to take advantage of what I have learned and experienced during these four years by working with more artistic images showing what men think, feel and are facing. It won’t be a complete guide to “What men in fact are like” – that would be impossible – but it can hopefully give those who look at the photos and understand them a hint of the problems men have, thereby making it possible to talk about them and come up with solutions about how to proceed. In the end, I don’t think it’s all about shoveling men away and replace them with women just for the sake of equality – I think it’s more about understanding why we still have “A man’s world” here and there. The more we understand, the easier will the progressive process flow.


Blogging in different languages

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Believe it or not, but it was only a couple of days ago that I finally realised that blogging in Swedish and English has its advantages and disadvantages. Many posts I write in my Swedish blog refers to what goes on in Sweden and isn’t particularly interesting for people abroad, unless you have a particular interest in reading my thoughts and doubts about the current pension system, what the best attitude is towards the refugees that flood Europe as I write or you read this. Will this house be what I can afford to live in when I retire? I hope not!

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Yesterday evening I heard a careful estimate on the news. The authorities calculated with 146,000 applications for asylum this year. Sweden has a population of a little over 9,000,000. At least there is plenty of room here and there – the only problem is that there are no jobs where it’s easy to find a place to live. Anyhow, I want to think that we will manage this huge challenge one way or another.

By posting this, I also managed to post two photos posted in the Swedish version. ūüôā

 


A bit worn but…

Today I took a short trip to Saltsj√∂baden hoping to find some traces of ice. Probably needless to say that I’m no big fan of ice, but melting ice can have a delicate texture and interesting shapes. I was lucky to find some and took a couple of shots.

I am obviously a bit worn myself. Problems with an eye annoyed me so I went to see the doctor who confirmed that there was a problem caused by stress. The doctor told me to avoid stress, that would cure it in a couple of weeks time. Luckily, I can’t see that there is any negative stress in my life, but what is one supposed to do in a society where stress is a normal way of life? Work part time? That would be anything but politically correct.

Anyhow, I find taking pictures a great way to relax so that’s what I will keep doing.

 


A hint of spring

The last days’ weather offered a hint of the spring to come and it¬† made me happy. The sun is warm, the days are growing longer and longer, the snow has melted. The spring will be here before we know it or… umm…. maybe not, but it isn’t far away anyhow. It’s like being released from prison and be able to walk the streets as a free man. The image above is a hint of what we are leaving behind us and it’s a good thing.

 


After four weeks of silence

The group Raymond & Maria during a gig in Stockholm in December

This blog has been a quiet place for a month now and to tell the truth I didn’t touch the camera before last Sunday which is very unusual to be me. The darkness and the rain has not inspired me, but I have not been idle. Instead I found an opportunity to think things over and, as a consequence, I have decided to take a course in February and learn a thing or two about how to sell images to stock photography agencies. This may some slight changes in production, but it may just as well mean I decide to forget about it. Hopefully, I may learn a thing or two about how to sell images. What I finally decide is another matter, but one can’t make the right decision without the knowledge needed.

I did explore other sides of photography during 2011 and will continue that process. One thought popped up in my head and that was the idea of earning some money on my hobby. No, I have no plans to become a photographer (it is probably too late for such drastic changes in my case) but I find the possibility to earn a little money on my hobby interesting – at least as a contribution to “investments” such as new equipment.

Closeup of the singers

Last year I tried my luck and photographed a couple of bands. The first attempts were – how shall I put it – frustrating because of the lack of light and I could not move about as I pleased to get good shots so I came home with pictures of the occasion but that was about it. On the other hand, I never went too far. The band appeared on a minimal stage and suddenly I spotted a photographer on stage taking pictures during the gig. Maybe I haven’t got the right edge yet, but I doubt I would do something like that. In my opinion, performing artists should not be disturbed during a performance. Otherwise they can’t do their best and the audience will be disappointed. Would a press photographer covering a photball game rush out on the pitch just to get some good shots from a different angle? Probably or, rather, certainly not – simply because that’s not where photographers are supposed to be unless they like the idea of being chased and haunted by furious players and the team’s vicious fans.

Taking pictures of Raymond & Maria was different and I got some shots I really liked. Generally speaking, I seldom like or find my images special but I must say that I definitely like the photo above despite that fact that it is far from perfect technically speaking. There is something else in it, an expression or emotion that makes it special – at least to me.

Anyway, no matter what paths I try I will never give up my free photography, you know when I try new things out and play with the possibilities the subject and the capture offers, so I will keep posting pictures in the blog. Wish you all the best for 2012.

 

 

 


Stockholm in November

After two long and harsh winters I really appreciate this mild and long autumn. No snow yet and the temperature is still above the freezing point. One frustrating reality for a photographer is of course the lack of daylight but we will soon pass the winter solstice and then we’re back on the right track again.

I’m not fed up with taking pictures of Stockholm or Kopparberg with surroundings but there are so much to been seen and captured in the rest of Sweden and, at this time of the year, abroad. Travelling is something I find boring (but I don’t mind being away from home); checking in at the airport, waiting for boarding, the flight, immigration control, waiting for the luggage are definitely among the things in life I dislike and think of as a waste of time.

Still, with new experiences and possible interesting subjects in mind, maybe it’s worth it after all? Don’t ask what I’m going to do with the images afterwards. The thought “just for fun” is ok for the time being. What about the rest then? Well, I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it.