Downtown Camper Stockholm

Note from Downtown Camper Stockholm

Enjoying a quick visit to the Swedish capital. Interestingly, I seem to make it up here more often during the winter season than any other time of the year. Regardless of when, it’s always a pleasure to visit. Especially when you get to stay at a hotel like Downtown Camper by Scandic.

Last night were invited by the Italian ambassador and the president of Liguria to experience a seven course dinner with specialties from the region that had been designed and cooked by seven of the country’s most renown chefs.

A few years ago, Charlotte and I were on assignment to Cinque Terre and we were impressed by just about everything. Especially the food.

Tonight we’ll join colleagues at the Swedish Association for Travel Journalists for the annual Christmas get-together where undoubtedly hundreds of gingerbread men await to be crunched on and washed down with a steady flow of warm and spicy glögg.

Joakim Bikram Yoga

December Yoga

A third in and already December’s been a busy month. It’ll naturally taper off as we near the holidays. But so far, I’ve delivered a short n’ snazzy PR-film, helped redesign of client’s landing page, documented two hotels, worked on half dozen or so new paintings in the studio and written a couple posts here and elsewhere.

Most importantly, and quite frankly a prerequisite for anything and everything I do at this stage in life, is maintaining a reasonably healthy diet and a training regimen that is congruous with my workload and life situation.

Last week, I hit the yoga and qigong mat for a total of six hours and I’m convinced this helped offset some of the stiffness I usually experience this time of year when temperatures and humidity tend to fluctuate dramtically.

I can’t emphasize enough how happy I am for having yoga and qigong in my life. And for finally appreciating how important it is to keep a holistic perspective when making decisions about work, family, food and exercise.

I shot the selfie above on a scorching hot rooftop in Bangkok a few months back during Bikram yoga session.

Turning Torso

Back in the Air

For whatever reasons, it’s nonetheless been quite a while since I last flew the drone. So, when I noticed yesterday’s fog bank rolling in over Malmö, I persuaded myself to endure the cold, gusty wind and try and get a high altitude shot of the Turning Torso as the fog swept by.

Malmö from Above

Here’s a collection of footage shot over some of my favorite places in Malmö during the spring, summer and fall of 2018. Turned out that capturing decent, dare I say cinematic quality film from a drone wasn’t nearly as hard as I first thought.

Unsurprisingly, much of the same techniques and considerations apply as when filming on the ground. The biggest challenge, at least as I see it, is achieving useful compositions at heights of up to 120 meters within the time constraints of the batteries ability to keep the aircraft afloat.

The Vault Helsingborg

The Vault

Newly opened lifestyle hotel The Vault is, as the name suggests, located in a property that once housed a bank. The hotel sits at the top of Stortorget – just a few hundred meters from Helsingborg’s main train station and ferry terminal. The view from our large corner room was absolutely magnificent and stretched out beyond the square and towards the Öresund Sound.

Room 212 was generously sized with ample space to relax and a proper work desk. Since I mostly write in bed when staying at hotels, I particularly appreciated that there were dual power outlets on both bedside tables flanking the comfy double bed. Finally a hotel that gets this right!

The bathroom was unusually large and had two wide sinks, a large shower and a toilet in an adjoining room, which also came with a sink. This was one of the most thoughtfully designed hotel bathrooms I’ve come across and totally in par with a room at Hoxton in Paris, The Standard in New York (East Village) or The Siam in Bangkok.

To say that The Vault has been liberal with its choice of decor would be to trivialize the enormous creative effort that has been at play here. Even though much of the bank’s interior, including the entrance, towering arches and main hall are intact, you don’t have to look particularly close to see how an abundance of free-flowing artistic imagination has been expressed through the hotel’s furnishings, decor and often wonderfully quirky details. Admittedly, I’m no expert on interior design, so obviously I can’t say whether or not it follows a specific style – of which I’m completely ignorant. But maybe that’s the red thread at The Value – a wide range of tasteful interior design solutions that together form a subtly palpable and irresistible whole that won’t lend itself to be labeled in a traditional way.

There’s a unique intimacy at The Vault, repeatedly demonstrated by the relatively young staffs helpful and positive attitude. Which in its own way makes for an interesting contrast when juxtaposed with the premises’ conservative history.

Although Helsingborg has a relatively decent selection of good eateries, I would definitely recommend the hotel’s cozy restaurant, Volta. In addition to a couple of creamy pasta dishes and delicous wine from my home state California, what we were most delighted about was the kitchen’s “Little Mess”, which consisted of two generous scoops of mascarpone ice cream, chocolate truffles, hazelnut syrup and fried pieces of cocoa. Clearly our new favorite dessert. It’s also in Volta guests can enjoy a tastefully presented breakfast buffet that had everything I love, sans a pot of piping hot baked beans.

With this latest lifestyle hotel, hoteliers Karin and Kjell Jacobsson once again exhibit their tireless passion for creating uniquely memorable experiences. The Vault is certainly a thoughtfully designed hotel with a clear focus on bestowing guests with a place and a space that provides sustenance for all senses. Well done!

The Vault Helsingborg

The Vault in Helsingborg

Currently working on an editorial project for Hotell Addict about a couple of hotels, one of which just opened here in Helsingborg, The Vault. The shot is from our room’s view tonight.

I really like this town. It’s significantly smaller than Malmö but also more quaint and easier to move around in. The harbor area is just gorgeous and the H99 neighborhood just north of the ferry terminal was somewhat of a blueprint for what eventually became Västra Hamnen.

Back in the hey days of the early 1990s, I spent a half a year in Helsingborg working as a DJ at Sweden’s oldest hotel, Mollbergs. I’d take the train down from Göteborg (where I lived at the time) on Thursdays, check in to one of the hotel’s huge rooms and play soul and funk 9:00 pm until 01:00 am from Thursday to Saturday in the hotel’s dining room. I even had an art exhibit there during the last couple of weeks of my residency.


A Talk

Yesterday afternoon, I had an hour long talk to seniors at a high school about what it is like to work as professional photographer. The talk was hosted by Transfer Öresund, a non-profit organizaton I’ve been part of for about a decade.

The venue was Sundsgymnasiet, a prominent high school in Vellinge near Malmö. Though I’m confident the class appreciated that I shared a few of my anecdotes, practical tips and philosophies, I sincerely hope that at least some were given an inspiring nudge forward.

I’ve been doing these talks for a number of years and I thoroughly enjoy sharing my experiences. Inspiration has always been a key factor in my life. I think I have a fairly unique ability to immerse into almost any subject and to a degree in which I get inspired.

2018 Highlights: Bamboo Yoga

2018 is slowly but surely coming to an end. A year much dominated by a machiavellian cluster-fucker with full access to nuclear launch codes and no moral compass whatsoever.

On a brighter note, 2018 has been filled with some incredible experiences. One of the most recent – and arguably most important – being our amazing daughter Elle’s eighteenth birthday. I’m still having a hard time wrapping my head around how fast time flies.

As per usual, the Raboff family has been guilty of deepening its carbon footprint with travels near and far. Much has been work related, which is by no means an excuse, but whatyagonnado?

One of my personal favorites for 2018 was producing a short film that encapsulated the essence of what Condé Nast Traveller Magazine voted India’s formost yoga destination, Bamboo Yoga Retreat in southern Goa. If you have the time, visit this place. The food alone will make the trip worthwhile. And the meditation and yoga classes in the bamboo shalas facing the Indian Ocean are a guaranteed stress reliever. The best part of that gig was that I got to participate in several classes.  I shot the majority of this with the Sony A7III with Zeiss 35mm, 18mm and 85mm glass.

Salmonella & Rice

Salmonella & Lice

Nine Piece Sushi for Bengt-Göran, cried the chef. That was the name of the elderly gentleman that sat next to me during lunch today at Sushi & Salad, a restaurant a few hundred feet from my studio in Malmö’s latest square, Masttorget.

This is crazy. We will soon have six sushi restaurants here in little Västra Hamnen – an area similar in size to Vasastan in Gothenburg, Hammarby Sjöstad in Stockholm or half of what Santa Monica is in L.A.. Five sushi restaurants! And as opposed to hair salons, which often have cheeky names that range from Hairport, Hairley Davidsson and Hairoscope, the sushi joints here often bear boring names like, Sushibar, Sushi For You or Harbor Sushi. Such humdrum naming should be outlawed! Unfortunately, most of them also have really bad sushi. With the exception of Salad & Sushi, where I often eat lunch and which is exceptionally good for Malmö. Had I opened a place that served sushi, I would of called it, Salmonella & Lice, Raw n’ Ready, or Mouth Sticks.

Back to Bengt-Göran.

While I was drowning my rolls in the soy/wasabi concoction and wolfing them down as if it were the last supper, my neighbor BG sat calmly and cut his nigiri and maki pieces with surgical precision. Sure, he seemed a little misplaced wearing an old pullover and suspenders – but it was clearly visible that he was enjoying the moment more than I. Though I wonder if he really understood that it was raw fish he was eating
We were the restaurant’s first lunch guests today, and I’d barely just finished my last piece of sushi on the now soy-drenched wooden cutting board when a small army of hungry office workers formed a long line at the counter. That’s when Bengt-Göran turned to me and said, “It’s a good thing we arrived when we did, right? Otherwise, we probably would not have had any fish today. ” I nodded in agreement and added, “Yeah, cause you really want your fish on Wednesdays. To myself I thought, heck, I could eat fish every day of the week. The shot of BG was taken with an iPhone XMax and those to the right with a Canon 5Ds during a shoot with a client.

New Film Site

Earlier this week, I launched a new website entirely dedicated to my short film ventures. It covers my most recent commercial productions as well as personal projects, like the instalments in my time capsule series.

The site’s tongue is Swedish, but should stilll be easy enough for English speakers to get around/navigate through.

Now, mosey on over and take a peak: