My words, thoughts and photos from a Swedish perspective

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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. 🙂

 

Letting the artist loose again

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Seasons come, seasons go – an expression one can wonder what it means and find your own truth in. Four seasons is a very obvious fact, at least if one lives in Sweden. These changes also mean “preparations”. We constantly take measures and steps to be well prepared for the next season and interesting things for a photographer may appear in these day to day life changes.

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On the other hand, there are places where time obviously stands still, even if life goes on around them. I don’t expect much to happen here apart from being covered by snow during the winter. There is something artistic about that too.

 

The details and I

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It’s probably a well known fact to my readers that I’m particularly fond of details, you know the tiny little things many rush by without even noticing them. My way of handling it is to take it easy, try to get a hold of the atmosphere and see if I can find something that is special where I happen to be. When and if I find something it means nothing but “Time to start working” (and hope it works).

What I’m really looking for is an opportunity to get a photo that has something to say. It may just show something or convey a feeling or something emotional. It’s an easy thing to say but I find it worth striving for.

 

An evening walk

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Something called insomnia is currently pestering my life and I took an evening walk in the city centre a couple of weeks ago in an attempt to get my sleep back. The tempo and the pulse down town in the evening is quite different from daytime when shops and offices are open.

I didn’t find strolling around without any specific plan or purpose particularly appealing, so I brought the camera and took the subway to town. Creative work makes me happy and the walk would hopefully make me sleepy – a wonderful combination indeed!

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I have joined a Facebook group where photos and pictures from Stockholm in the past are posted. I’m not saying that every house was worth keeping, but way too many beautiful and interesting old buildings were torn down during the 50’s and 60’s. Hundreds of houses where people lived and worked disappeared and were replaced by huge office complexes where all activity ceases at five o’clock and the crowded city centre becomes a deserted place when the shops and department stores are closed.

Friday and Saturday evenings are a bit different. No school or work tomorrow and plenty of pubs and discos open until five in the morning create an artificial way of life there with rules of its own. On Sunday evening everything is back to normal again.

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On the other hand, everything is subject to changes whether we like it or not. Would all the workshops and small businesses that used to be there still be there, had the drastic make over not happened? I doubt it. Would all the shops, many with their own specialties, still be open and offer their services and merchandise to customers? Probably not; more likely is that they would have gone out of business ages ago – the competition from the big chains would have seen to that.

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They tried and managed to sneak in a few apartments in the city centre about twenty years ago. It’s better than nothing, but since next to nobody lives there anymore, it becomes a lifeless place after business hours. Until it’s time for the next change to come, the garments on display in the windows won’t find any potential buyers at ten o’clock in the evening unless it happens to be a Friday or Saturday.

A frozen moment

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This is probably not one of my best shots, still it’s a very important one showing what life can be like in cities like Stockholm and many others if luck in life hasn’t been on your side. The poor homeless man is asleep outside the entrance to a department store and he probably gets some occasional warm air on him from the ventilation inside. Soon that extra heating won’t be enough to keep the winter temperature away.

Picture of a phrase

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We have a mode of expression in Swedish that goes like “He/she can’t see the forest because of the trees” (free translation) which means that he or she is blind to the obvious. Last Sunday I got an opportunity to prove it right.