I’m pretty much an absentee employee of my own company these days. Still busy, just not from my ordinary workstation. With this amazing summer weather and an identical Mac editing system at home, I just don’t see the point of working in my new, but more or less windowless studio right now. So, while Charlotte is busy with her projects at our gallery, Galleri Västra Hamnen, the adjacent studio is empty and I’m just steps away from a refreshing swim in the ocean right outside our front door.
Back in Malmö for a short spell. Time enough to get back on track with regular visits to the gym, a run, a morning dip in the Öresund but also a couple of new personal projects and commercial assignments.
A chef friend of mine has a bit of the, “Imelda Marcos Syndrome”. She has what may be an uncontrollable addiction to impossibly high heeled shoes. I find this fascinating and asked her to borrow a few pairs from her vast collection and then convinced another friend to model in them for me. Not exactly sure where this project is heading, but there’s something here, I’m sure.
I’ve enjoyed yet another primo Italian experience. Especially at base camp – in the Cinque Terre village of Monterosso, where the locals are super friendly, the food is great and it’s not too crowded. If you visit Monterosso, don’t miss the family owned Miky, one of the top ten Italian restaurants I’ve ever eaten at period. Their tuna tartar aperitivo and tuna steak portata principale are just marvelous. Great presentation and service, too.
I’ve now experienced the prologue to what will inevitably be a long, hot summer season with an endless tsunami of flag waving tourist groups, hiking stick clenching retirees and pizza craving Americans – arriving daily in the tens of thousands via trains, buses and cars from all over the world.
I caught a glimpse of how badly the hordes of visitors can behave a few times in two of the four visited villages, and it ain’t pretty. I honestly feel hesitant about even recommending a visit during this time of year. November would probably be considerably calmer and therefor a more enjoyable time to visit Cinque Terre.
The regional government in Liguria needs to put a quota in place to limit the amount of visitors here and by doing so, provide the spectacular beauty this place has to offer some well-needed space. I’ve heard that there are in fact talks of a quota – at least along the trails between villages – but I can only assume that greed is a strong, resilient opponent to limiting the amount of tourists.
I spent more or less ten years of my life working in the hotel and restaurant industry and so, wherever I travel, I try to make an effort to be a good ambassador – as both an American and a Swede. I aim simply to be the kind of guest that makes a good impression just by being genuinely friendly and polite. Simple enough.
Where many other visitors – primarily Germans and Americans – tend to be both boisterous and arrogantly demanding of locals working in the tourism industry, I’ll make an extra effort to show empathy and abide by the their way of doing things – a strategy that generally pays off really well. Like waiting to be seated as opposed to bulldozing my way into a restaurant or bar and expecting to be served pronto. Or, trying to greet and thank people in the local tongue instead of arrogantly assuming my language is the “lingua franca”.
I get that most Chinese tourists don’t have much experience at traveling abroad. And that they have an entirely different set of etiquette rules that dictate their social behavior – regardless of where they are geographically.
But the obnoxious attitude of many of my fellow countrymen I’ve encountered here, is nothing short of disgraceful. The old cliché about Americans being embarrassingly ignorant, boastful and deafeningly loud? It’s alive and well. In their defense, I suppose one could argue that the vast majority of Americans traveling abroad also come from rural parts of the country and that their over-the-top behavior is just a sign of insecurity. But when I think about it some more, the exaggerated behavior seems familiar, somehow. It’s really not too dissimilar from that of the next Republican presidential candidate.
Speaking of which, Louis CK has a few well-chosen words about Mr Trump. Get them here.
Currently in the midst of the picturesque villages along the breathtakingly beautiful Italian Riviera – a stretch of dramatic coastline in the Liguria region called Cinque Terre of western Italy. I’m here for a few days to shoot for a travel thing. Walked along a mostly steep, partially stepped path this morning from the village Monterosso al Mare to Vernazza – pictured above. If this place isn’t on your bucket list, it should be. The gentlemen in the collage were old friends, possibly old fisherman. As I walked by, I just couldn’t refuse asking them if it would be okay to take a group shot. Over the years, I’ve lost touch with most of my old buddies and these dudes reminded me of them.
I’ve been lucky/fortunate/careful – take your pick – when it comes to my camera gear. It’s basically worked like clockwork. My pro gear, that is. The pocket/compact cameras aren’t built to last and either become technically obsolete within a few years, or, just break way beyond repair.
I committed to Canon’s digital pro gear a long time ago with the D30 and over the last 15 years, I’ve only had a single repair. And that happened just last week when focusing reliably with Canon’s formidable workhorse, the EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM, started becoming increasingly unreliable.
Strangely, it was impossible to reproduce the faulty focusing in the studio and it was at only some focus lengths that images tended to look just slightly blurry.
Through my gold membership at CPS (Canon Professional Service) I was provided with an astonishingly expedient repair process and via Kamerateknik here in Malmö, my repaired/renovated/realigned lens could be securely bayoneted back onto the 5Ds again. within a mere week. That’s impressive service, indeed.
The image above from a bunch of gears atop the old clock tower in Vilnius, Lithuania. Shot with the almost pocketable Fuji x100s.
Spending the weekend shooting in Vilnius, Lithuania – the third of the Baltic nations that I’ve visited in the last few years. Hard to compare, but I’ve found folks here to be very friendly and helpful. The width of old town’s architecture alone makes Vilnius worth a visit.
Thanks to my buddy Yigit and his friend Erika and her preferred makeup artist, I was put in touch with Karolina, a young, amazingly talented model with just the right look and level of professionalism I was aiming for.
So, with a great model, Yigit as my enthusiastic assistant, perfect weather (soft, cloudy filtered light) and a brilliant location on a platform with abandoned train tracks below at Vilnius Central Station, today’s first shoot could not have come together in a better fashion.
Nothing screams of spring louder than when every friggin’ dude in the hood with a Bbq starts grilling beef, pork and poultry practically every day of the week.
As much as I’ve enjoyed eating vegetarian cuisine for close to a year now, the smell from the neighborhood’s collective Bar-B-Quers is damn near torturous.
The shot above is from my lunch today at Green – created by yet another superb chef with impressive consistency, Johan Andersson. As good as it was to munch on grilled veggies, pasta, homemade pesto and deep fried tofu today, I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that I actually deeply long for a thin slice of lightly smoked ham with Dijon, a juicy, charcoal grilled burger decorated with a salty, kosher pickle and drenched in Hellman’s mayo and a side of coleslaw – or, why not just an inch thick, sirloin steak topped with a generous portion of Béarnaise.
Vegetarians dream of sheep. Grilled sheep.
Once the weather turns for the better and the temperature eases into t-shirt weather, which it finally, finally, finally has here Skåne, I half kiddingly joke that all is forgiven. The winter, I mean – which was mild and relatively dry – but lingered unusually long and was nearly unbearably windy.
After a chock full weekend of activities including an art show, an opera premiere and then standing mostly indoors selling a bunch of studio props, furniture and photography gear from within the old studio, it was tremendously invigorating to go for an 11k run early this morning. It’s been a few weeks since my last run – I usually workout at the gym 2-3 times a week with jogging as part of my warmup – yet the run went extremely smooth with a few pauses a long the way – just to capture the gorgeous sunrise over Malmö. Yes, all is forgiven.
Last week, I was hired by one of the world’s leading tire manufacturers for two outdoor, advertorial shoots in southern Sweden. The theme was centered around testimonials from reps of two trucking companies – both heavy users of the brand’s winter tires.
As the assignment took place during late April in Sweden, achieving the right meteorological circumstances wasn’t too much of a problem. In fact, during the course of the day, my assistent Jakob and I had just about every kind of downfall known to man: rain, snow, sleet and hale. Fortunately, there were a few precious dry moments for the required portrait and landscape images.
Finally, the renovation of our gallery and the move to the new studio is complete. There’s still a few minor adjustments and tweaks that need to be made before I’m entirely satisfied.
Since the new studio is a bit smaller, we’re having a studio blowout/garage sale this Saturday and Sunday between 11:00 a.m. and 05:00 p.m. to get rid of all the props and furniture that there just isn’t any room for. Some of which you can see above.