One spring Sunday afternoon about 17 years ago, my wife and I went for our weekend rollerblade ride in what is now called Västra Hamnen.
At the time, we were living comfortably in a huge apartment in town, near Davidshalls Torg and had no plans whatsoever of moving.
Our ride began at the mouth of the canal that runs parallell to a dog park at Ribersborg Beach and we skated along the asphalt path adjacent to the coastline, all the way to the old heliport, where Dockan is now.
The year was 1999, so this took place way before the housing exhibit, “Bo01, City of Tomorrow”. The entire nameless area was pretty much undeveloped (aside from the defunct SAAB factory) and as far as we knew – at least back then – abandoned and forgotten.
Two years later, during one of several visits to the aforementioned housing expo, we fell literally in love with the small, seaside district with all its intriguing, often quirky architecture, innovative garden and park concepts, thoughtful urban planning ideas and out-of-the-box solutions for how to solve the needs and wants of people living and working there.
A gradual epiphany came upon us and soon we realized how boring our old apartment was and how living in the clutter of downtown Malmö was no longer appealing. Instead, we were drawn to the idea of living close to the sea and enjoying more time out in the open spaces with many small parks and gently rounded hills along the very same path where we had skated years before. Being able to spend more time outdoors with our then young daughter, Elle, was also a key component in the decision process.
Our friends in Malmö thought we were absolutely crazy when we a year later revealed that we’d bought a small, grass-roofed, two story house in what had come to be nicknamed, “Bo01”.
And though the local press constantly put a negative spin on everything pertaining to Malmö’s newest residential area, we were still convinced that moving to Västra Hamnen was not just an outlandishly adventurous idea, but also a commitment that would eventually add value to both our lives and livelihood.
During the 15 years since we first arrived here, I’ve taken many thousands of images, produced a series of 11 popular books, 10 about Västra Hamnen and one dedicated to the amazing skyscraper, Turning Torso, and have had my photographs purchased by people and companies from all over the world.
My Facebook page, I Love Västra Hamnen, has nearly 15,000 fans – whom continuously encourage me to capture unique moments and new perspectives. And as of two years ago, Charlotte and I established a state-of-the-art photography studio and gallery next door to the Turning Torso by Green Matmarknad. Both spaces compliment my online web shop at www.gallerivastrahamnen.se where the vast majority of my high resolution images are archived and available for immediate purchase and download.
As a photographer, I don’t think there are many places in Sweden that could keep me so creatively inspired and challenged as Västra Hamnen has.
And despite not having as much time as in earlier years to document the ongoing expansion, I still always carry a competent pocket camera with me when I’m out and about here.
Whenever returning from assignments, regardless where, in Europe, Asia, Africa or America, Västra Hamnen still provides me with both some kind of spiritual solitude and creative sanctuary. When photographing here, I feel far from the often narrow creative briefs and at times extremely detailed art directions I commonly work within as a commercial photographer.
Here, I have the kind of freedom I am used to as an editorial photographer – with the added benefit of being able to enhance my impressions in post production. See, I have yet to experience a camera capable of fully recording what I see and more importantly, how I feel at the moment of capturing a landscape.
Västra Hamnen has certainly changed my life. Both personally and professionally. And as the district continues to grow with new neighborhoods and companies establishing business here, more and more people in Malmö and elsewhere aspire to either live or work here. Or, both. The quality of life here far exceeds anything I can possibly write or even photograph. It just has to be experienced. First hand.
For whatever reason, I woke up super early today after 5-6 hours of good quality sleep. A peek out the window revealed a beautiful morning and so, I headed out to the meadow to capture the horses (which returned yesterday, just as mysteriously as they disappeared a week ago).
Of the world’s total population, only a small fraction of a single digit percentage can possibly know about, or, have ever heard of Vejbystrand. In a way, that’s a good thing.
Still, being someone that really enjoys inspiring people to travel and share some of my experiences from the places I love, I can’t help but encourage folks to visit us while we’re here in Vejbystrand.
And so, this past week has seen a lot of friends from Stockholm, Göteborg and Malmö drop by for lunch or dinner. Fact is, our social life is far richer here than back home where so much other stuff seems to dominate our lives. Like traveling…
For whatever logical or unearthly reason, the horses in front of our house are gone. One minute they were there, happily grazing, enjoying life and allowing me photograph them from time to time. Then one morning, as I headed out to the meadow to take advantage of the early sunlight, they’d just disappeared. Vanished.
The mystery has yet to be solved, but I worry not so much as my archive of horse images is chock full. And so, I can now focus on photographing and filming the plump cows in the adjacent pasture. How now, brown cow.
My right knee kept the pace slower than I had anticipated and my hips and thighs were a bit stiff, but after 2-3k, I was pretty much my old self and crossed the finish line after this morning’s 10k run in decent time. The stretch of beautifully wild land I ran along, is so-called common or, public, owned by the people, populated by grazing cows and horses and has a natural path for runners and walkers. I’ve run many places around the world. This is certainly one of my favorites. I captured the aerial shot a couple of years ago while shooting landscapes between Malmö and Ängelholm.
If you’re at marginally interested in film, chances are you’ll have seen at least one of the several available versions of Apocalypse Now by director, Francis Ford Coppola, (the Godfather trilogy, Rumble Fish, American Graffiti) and an the all-star cast, including, Martin Sheen, Robert Duvall, Dennis Hopper, Marlon Brando and Harrison Ford.
I re-watched Apocalypse Now just the other night, this time a reduxed version with several entirely new and expanded scenes, and was again blown away by fabulous acting performances, action sequences and sound design. Couldn’t resist doing a little research and found that the epic film took a grueling 18 months to film – mostly deep in the jungles the Philippines – and some three years to edit and assemble.
I mention this only because during my research, I came across the above casual conversation between Francis Ford Coppola and Martin Sheen where they chat about some of the film production’s most challenging moments, meteorologically, emotionally and for Mr Sheen (whom suffered a heart attack during filming) physically
Wanna watch the entire film? Someone has uploaded it to Youtube here..
The trick to a really tasty porridge is accompanying the rather bland crushed oats with a range of more flavorful ingredients.
Now, I don’t eat porridge everyday, but while here in the rustic countryside – where it’s been raining all night and the better part of the morning – a cold smoothie just couldn’t of hit the mark.
For this morning’s concoction I added walnuts, fresh ginger, banana, a teaspoon of honey, tablespoon of organic, unsweetened peanut butter, raisins, water, pinch of salt and a half a cup of coconut milk. Needless to say (but I will anyway), today’s spiced up porridge was ludicrously good.
Side note: Kung Markatta is Sweden’s premiere producer of ecologically sound condiments, conserved legumes, beans, nuts and a whole slew of other foodstuff.
As cynical and greedy as the actors in the food industry indisputably are, Kung Markatta seems to be both one of the least dishonest and since 1983, certainly one of the most consistent players on the not-so-level playing field. Read their story here and decide for yourself.
Halfway through our stay here in Stora Hult and it’s been the usual mixed bag of weather. After my two weeks under the sun in SoCal, I’m okay with it being a bit windy and chilly. As long as it doesn’t rain all day.
Today’s highlight was the annual “fika” at Lillaro Café with the always cheerful Eva, Palle and Lilly. Like most summers, 2016 has seen a few new additions – some of which I’ll include in my new Lillaro film.
Before leaving, Palle and I hung 15 of my new monochrome surf shots on one the cafés’ walls. Might be the easiest show I’ll ever produce… Directions to Lillaro – one of Sweden’s most unique and inspiring café’s here.
Charlotte, Elle and Theo have all gone out for the better part of the day. What a perfect opportunity for me to spin a few favorite albums by Eddie Harris & Co on this sunny albeit windy summer’s day.
Horses are mysterious creatures. Solemn, somehow. I love photographing them. Aside from the obvious challenge to capture horses at the right moment – with legs, tail and head composed in an interesting way – you also need to configure a backdrop that either adds context to the shot, or, encapsulates the moment emotionally. I took the above photo a few days ago as the current storm front was rolling in over Vejbystrand.