For sure, creativity is both a blessing and a curse. Fortunately, not too often simultaneously. But would I prefer doing something else entirely? Something more predictable, safer but also more mundane and trivial?
Nope. Never. Ever.
[I’ve tried though. In previous lives, I’ve worked as a bartender, a dee-jay, a teacher and as a short-order chef].
But today, even when doubts and fear of failure are still part of my process, I feel confident that in reality (my reality, anyway) I’ve been more blessed than cursed. Most importantly, I still get almost ridiculously excited about inspiring others through my work. Like my daughter, Elle Raboff.
AND NOW, A LITTLE BACKGROUND
I was born July22. 1963 at Saint John’s in Santa Monica, California to a Swedish mother and an American father. In 1978, I moved to Gothenburg, Sweden where my obsession with photography began. The very first camera I owned was the fully manual Minolta 100 SRT. A hefty, albeit reliable image capturing device.
In the mid 1980s, I studied Information Technology and Political Science at the University of Gothenburg. This is also about when i began experimenting with oil and acrylic paint on canvas and wood, as an additional means to express myself creatively. Eventually, I came to realize that a traditional academic education was just not going to happen.
In 1988, I was introduced to Riksgränsen, a small remote village and home to one of the world’s most remote ski resorts, located in the wilderness landscape of Lapland, in the northern most part of Sweden near the border to Norway and not far from the North Atlantic Ocean. For a few years, I worked evenings there as a bartender and a DJ, painted on my days off and skied the slopes the rest of the time. It was paradise on multiple levels and to this day, I consider those carefree years some of the best of my life.
In order to develop my chops as a painter and photographer, I applied and was accepted in 1992 to Gotland’s Art School, located on the island of Gotland in the Baltic Sea. I studied there under among several artists, the gifted artists Helena Andreeff and Staffan Laurin. Both influenced me as artistic mentors to pursue a career as a visual artist.
After returning to Gothenburg in the mid 1990s where I continued to paint and had a few solo gallery shows, the trifecta of computer graphics, software like Macromedia Director and Adobe Photoshop and the burgeoning Internet age put a long-lasting spell on me.
In 1996, I eventually left Gothenburg for Malmö in the south of Sweden where I spent a few years working in advertising at various creative positions.
After starting the company JLR MEDIA AB (now Raboff AB) in 1999, the vast majority of the 2000s were focused on freelance work – primarily photography, video and writing – with both commercial and editorial assignments for an array of local, national and international clients that included, Tetra Pak, Trelleborg, Aftonbladet, Bonniers, Alfa Laval, J. Walter Thompson, Nordic Choice Hotels, Ericsson and IKEA.
Together with my wife Charlotte, a travel entrepreneur whom I’d met in Gothenburg in 1996, I produced dozens of comprehensive guides, articles and travel exposés from destinations all over the world – including Spain, Thailand, Laos, China, Japan, and the USA.
Travel has always played an important role in my life and I am fortunate to have experienced a multitude of places and cultures, literally all over the world. Through my travels, I continue to achieve lasting-lasting, creative inspiration which keeps me alive and inspired.
After moving to Västra Hamnen in Malmö in 2002, and initially as a passion project, I began documenting the then recently inaugurated and to this day, still expanding neighborhood. My first book about the area – where I continue to live and work – was published in 2005. Since then, I have produced nine additional books in the series.
FINALLY, A FEW MILESTONES
• 2003 – 2014: Editorial assignments (photography and writing) for Scandinavia’s leading travel magazines, including, Aftonbladet Resa, Allt om Resor, Inrikes, Travel Report, Resekoll, Sydsvenskan.
• 2005-2015: Produced a series of books documenting the development of the sustainable neighborhood, Västra Hamnen in Malmö, Sweden. In 2010, my book was chosen, translated to Mandarin, printed in 6000 copies and used as a present at the Swedish pavilion during the Shanghai World Expo (World’s Fair) between 1 May to 31 October, 2010.
• 2007 – 2016: Several photography exhibits in Malmö including themes on Havana and New York.
• July 2014: opened Galleri Västra Hamnen exhibiting my books and photography from both Västra Hamnen and elsewhere. Next to the gallery I ran a commercial photo studio where both still images and video projects were produced. The gallery closed in 2017 but still has a website: click here to view it.
• February 2015: commissioned by cooperative organizaton, HSB Malmo to produce a coffee table book dedicated to the skyscraper, Turning Torso, designed by world-reknown Spanish architect, engineer and artist, Santiago Calatrava.
• September 2017: commissioned by the United Nations’ Swedish emissary to produce and install a series of large format, artic themed images for United Nations Sustainable Development Summit in New York. Speakers included Dr Angela Merkel, Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany and Stefan Löfvén, Prime Minister of Sweden. Over 400 diplomats, politicians and dignitaries attended the event.
• March 2016: invitation to exhibit 17 large format photo collages and mosaics of New York and Malmö combined and printed on aluminum plates. The show took place at the new trade and cultural center in Malmö called, Clarion Hotel & Congress Malmö Live.
• October 2016: invitation to exhibit 19 framed and matted photos of landscapes from the southern Swedish region of Skåne – again at Clarion Hotel & Congress Malmö Live.
• October 2016: commissioned to produce 1500 copies of a coffee table book encompassing the creative process and interviews with 54 of the opera’s coworkers from a behind the scenes perspective. Click here for images and more information about the book about Malmö Opera.
• May 2017: commissioned to produce 5 large format plexiglass art pieces themed on sports activities available at Kockum Fritid in Malmö, Sweden.
Through the wide range of assignments and personal projects, I continue to evolve my creative width and depth – with photography and film being my preferred medium of choice.