The Race

The Race

As much as I try, I still find myself getting sucked into this year’s presidential race. As a subscriber to the digital edition of the New York Times, avoiding the crazy American primaries, is just about impossible.

It’s ironic that next week, I’m exhibiting images largely inspired by Donald Trump’s home town, New York – Manhattan, not Queens, where he’s from.

Amazingly, no one seems to ever reflect over how old the most popular candidates are. Even if Hillary’s or Donald’s tenure only lasts one term, they’d still be a commander-in-chief somewhere in their mid 70s.

And I don’t even want to think about Bernie’s age after two terms. Wonder why there are so candidates in the 40s or 50s this time around? Maybe the realization that the job isn’t all that it’s snuffed  up to be? That Congress, the Supreme Court and hordes of lobbyists and special interest groups can pretty much make the gig feel like you never should of run for office in the first place…despite the dubious joy of being commemorated with a library once you move out of the White House. Image above: Rickard B during a spinning class at Kockum Fritid.

The Verdictt

The Verdict

Every several years, I return to Sidney Lumet’s “The Verdict” – just to remind myself of what really good cinematic storytelling and excellent cinematography looks like.

Not only does Paul Newman, Charlotte Rampling and the always marvellous James Mason turn out brilliant performances – everything from the choice of film stock, masterful camera angles and lighting to the perfectly modulated sound quality, makes this a film worth benchmarking others against.

I can imagine that many have been so inspired by “The Verdict”, that they eventually decided to become lawyers.

Come to think of it, I now remember having naively high hopes for a friend, who at the time of the film’s premiere was studying law, – would become a smart-mouthed, kick-ass defense attorney knocking off one important battle after the other against teams of corporate lawyers and pompous, unjust prosecutors.

He eventually did go on to become a successful judicial practitioner, but I’m sure he’d prefer to see himself as Ed Colcannon, James Mason’s portrayal of the ruthless, cynical, senior lawyer in “The Verdict” than Paul Newman’s underdog character, the self-pitying, womanizing drunk, Frank Galvin.

Curiously, one of the extras in the final courtroom scene, which is when Paul Newman makes his poetic, closing argument, is none other than a young, Bruce Willis – whom I was hired to be stand-in for and extra during the 1986 fall season of the then extremely popular sitcom, Moonlighting.

A stand-in is someone that replaces the principle actor in scenes where only an arm, hand, leg or foot will be visible. Like opening a car door, stepping onto an escalator and so on.

So, while Bruce and Sybille (Shepard) were in their trailers reading scripts and eating catered delicacies, parts of my body were busy playing the role of David Addison’s body parts.

As fun as it initially was to work on that show (and a few others, like Cagney & Lacey, Hunter), in all honesty, nothing can possibly be more monotonous than being a peripheral cast member on a television sitcom or drama series. Twelve hour days with short spurts of activity followed by endless hours of more waiting. Only watching wet paint dry could be more tedious.

The experience did, however, offer some insight to what it’s like to work in Hollywood, something both my father and mother had done, with limited success. The commercials and demo videos I shoot are usually produced with a small, nimble team and delivered with an extremely short turnaround – as opposed to anything one can say about film production in Tinseltown.

New York

MalmHattan

About a month ago, I was invited by the good folks at Clarion Hotel & Congress Malmö Live to exhibit images within the same theme as my film project – currently on display at the hotel’s Kitchen & Table restaurant on the 25th floor – called, MalmHattan. The scope of the film and the forthcoming art show is to visually merge the two cities – both with more in common than what most people might think.  Not all images, but where it is – to me anyway – visually interesting.

So, over the last week, I’ve created a collection of collages that merge Malmö with Manhattan in what I feel has turned out to be a pretty compelling way.

I’ve lived in Malmö for close to 20 years (a little depending on how you count our previous adventures in the US, Thailand and Spain). I’ve been visiting New York relatively regularly since 1986. Just last year, I was on assignment in Gotham no less than four times. And though I’ve never actually lived in New York, it is unequivocally the most interesting city in the world.
The venue for the art show is in the hotel’s “Living Room” – a cozy, public space that connects the hotel with Malmö Live and has several wide, concrete walls and high ceilings. I’ve got a few photos of the place here.

Over the years, I’ve exhibited art in both traditional art galleries as well as in several hotels. I honestly prefer the latter over the former.  Why? Well, because galleries tend to add more exclusitivity and pretentiousness than I can relate to on a personal level. I may be many things – but I am certainly not exclusive nor pretentious. Art in any form should be inclusive.

Anyway, I’m now in the final and creatively intense stage of deciding which of my images to show – and if these final candidates need additional work before sending them via FTP to the printer on Friday. Most of my Malmhattan images are close to two meters in height and will be completely different to anything I’ve ever shown before. Sort of.

Hotel Erwin

Hotel Review

Thought I’d share one of my most recent hotel reviews which will be published in a day or two. I stay at anywhere from 20-30 different hotels on average per year, so I’ve obviously accumulated a decent amount of guest experience. On a couple of occasions, General Managers and directors of Food & Beverages have called to thank me for my insights and complement me on raising issues they were oblivious of. Not certain if my critique had any long-term impact, but their engagement is a definitely a good sign. So, without any further ado, here’s my thoughts on what I think is a really good and recommendable hotel – located just south of the Venice sign above.

The Erwin is a smallish hotel (119 rooms) in the salty, eclectic and world-famous seaside neighborhood of Venice Beach.

Let’s start on top.

The Erwin has what must be one of L.A.’s most spectacular rooftop lounges – complete with sprawling 360 degree views of the area and beyond. In fact, more or less the entire rooftop has been dedicated to ensuring hotel guests and outside visitors can suck up the SoCal sun while chilling out high above palm trees and the hustle and bustle stemming from the Venice Boardwalk below. This laid-back vibe is, of course, accompanied by carefully curated tunes and a wide range of suitable beverages from the roof’s small cocktail bar-cum-cantina.

As an avid – if not particularly good – surfer, I love the Erwin for its proximity to what could be the most consistent surf spot in L.A.; Venice’s “Breakwater”. It almost took me longer to put on my wetsuit then to walk down the street and into the waves…

Once back from a surf session, the hotel can either keep your board in guest storage, or you can just bring it up to your room (the elevator even accommodates longboards).

Guest rooms are pretty basic with functional decor typical for the region (colorful) and all the practicalities you need. Rooms facing north can expect to hear some late-night rumblings from a couple of the nearby bars. Though nothing a pair of earbuds won’t cancel out.

If you’re into the beach scene, the Erwin’s location is outstanding. Perhaps not an ideal choice for families with small children. But for parents with teens, it’s spot on. Lots of stuff to do nearby, even if you don’t hit the waves. Bike, skateboard and inline rental places are abundant as are Venice Boardwalk’s more or less memorable restaurants and cafés.

Main Street and Rose Avenue in Santa Monica are both really close by – as is Venice Beach Pier with plenty of decent eateries and great views of the shoreline. Venice Canals (famous for one of the locations in the TV show, Californication) is definitely worthy a visit.

The Erwin’s onsite restaurant is small and though their offerings are nicely presented, well-made and tasty, the selection is fairly limited. The bar, on the other hand, has a really good breadth.

I can easily recommend the Erwin for a wide range of reasons. One of the most significant, though, is the hotel’s extremely friendly staff.

I stayed for a week and sincerely enjoyed interacting with everybody. The folks working the reception were all personable and plenty helpful – often going out of their way to answer my queries and accommodate my needs for dry cleaning, surfboard maintenance and what not.

The fellows manning the valet parking (free!) were also extraordinarly service-minded. But literally everyone I met or spoke with during my entire stay had a really positive attitude – without coming across as being superficially friendly or beaming a phoney facade – as so often is the case at many other hotels.

The Erwin is a genuine gem and a really good choice when looking for a place to stay in this part of Los Angeles.

Royal Crown of Stockholm

Stockholmia in February

Excellent good weather during a couple of days in Stockholm this week. Cold, sunny and absolutely perfect weather for walking to my meetings set on three of the capital’s many picturesque islets.

As big as Stockholm is, at least when compared with Malmö, it’s surprisingly fast to get around downtown on foot. And it’s not nearly as crowded as during the more tourist-friendly season – though Liljevalch’s Spring Salon (an annual art show since 1921) was extremely busy in their temporary exhibit halls near Stockholm’s Royal Opera House.

The last time I was in town, I stayed at the palatial Grand Hotel. And because I am someone that thrives on keep life full of inspiring contrasts, this time, the wallet-friendly boutique hotel HTL earned my trust. Great location, friendly staff and a decent breakfast that almost compensated for the claustrophobically small room.

editorial assignemnts

Articles, Tips & Guides, oh my!

Thought I’d post a more comprehensive collection of the guides, articles and travel tips we’ve been engaged to produce for the last eight or ten years. It’s been a ton of fun traveling around the world and experiencing a wide range of countries and cultures. Today, there’s way too much competition for these kinds of gigs and you have to be pretty nifty-thrifty to make them work financially.

Print media continues to undergo a seemingly endless metamorphosis, editorially and financially. Digital only editions and paywalls have become commonplace and so-called, “Native Advertising” is the latest way to blur the line between what a journalist writes and a copywriter hammers out in attempt to lure unsuspecting readers into thinking an advertorial is actually an article. Of course, the travel press has more or less always been a bit conflicted – journalistically speaking, I mean. Curious to see how our daughter Elle will be ingesting editorial content when she is 25, in about ten years time. I have doubts there will be a lot of printed newspapers around by then. Some, sure, but not nearly as many as today. I do, however, envision even more niche magazines than today. That segment seems almost insatiable.

sushi shrimp

Saiko

Don’t remember for whom I shot this, but it was created in the old studio using a 100 mm macro lens by Canon at f29 and 1/40th of a second. I’m using it to illustrate a recent, formidable restaurant experience in Malmö. Not only did the food taste great, the way we were greeted and served made us feel like we were loyal patrons – which is extremely unusual in this town where genuinely, personable service is sometimes an unsuspected bonus but more often a misnomer.

As a long-time enthusiast of Japanese food, at least the seafood and vegetarian dishes, it’s not ever really been possible to eat world-class sushi in Malmö. The kind of food you enjoy at one of Nobu’s restaurants or even at the simplest eatery in Tokyo.

There are plenty of pseudo Japanese takeaway joints here, sure. And over the years, a few of them have admittedly sufficed to satisfy our cravings.

But honestly, from my experience, the vast majority of Malmö’s sushi restaurants don’t really care or have very limited knowledge about what they serve. Therefore, creating a visually and culinarily pleasing experience even remotely close to what we were treated to at Saikō, is literally unattainable. Oh, did I mention the owner won the World Sushi Cup 2013 and was favorably judged by Jiro, the master sushiosopher of “Jiro Dreams of Sushi“?


Heart of a Dog

Yesterday, Charlotte and I saw the musician and visual artist, Laurie Andersson’s latest film, “Heart of a Dog”.

In a way this is a tribute to her late dog, Lolabelle. But even if you’re not a dog lover, this is still a relevant film about relationships and how we deal with them when new perspectives arise. If you are a dog lover, you will truly enjoy her film.

“Heart of a Dog” is certainly an art movie without a traditional plot or storyline. Yet you still leave the theater feeling completely content and enthused. Laurie’s amazing voice and her thoughtful narrative, beautiful music and visual abstractions conjure some really interesting and provocative thoughts – ranging from post 911 America to the ultimate question, are dogs actually capable of creating listenable Christmas music?

Perhaps I’m injecting stuff that’s going on in my own life right now, but I made quite a few interesting tie-ins with Laurie Andersson’s thoughts.

Laurie Andersson’s life partner, the late Lou Reed, is present only with a song during the film’s final credits. Which made me wonder if it was either too painful for her to include both of her now passed companion Lolabelle and Lou Reed in the same film or if we can expect yet another tribute in the future.

Leica Q

Leica

Inevitably, I will own a Leica. It’s a process – mostly of identifying the tools that fit your creative needs and abilities and then accepting that everything else is, for lack of a better word, excessive.

It’s a cliché, but less is usually more. That’s no small statement coming from an American.

I’ve never shot with a Leica. Not a single frame. In fact, I don’t think one has ever been in my hands. Not even a consumer camera which the legendary German optics company co-produces with Panasonic.

A few years ago, I visited a Leica showroom in Bangkok and was really impressed by how beautiful the store’s design was. Let’s face it, retail space is usually a less than pleasant experience, regardless of what part of the world you’re at.

The amount of thoughtfulness that had gone into the showroom’s layout, choice of materials and how the cameras were displayed – each carefully placed in a square, wooden shelf and perfectly lit above by a small, aptly positioned, recessed spotlight – was, well, seductive. Just like at an Apple store, there was an irresistible level of visual draw . I just had to walk in and soak up the aesthetic experience.

As strange as it may seem today – as I’ve never used one – sooner or later, I still know I’ll feel extremely liberated when the only camera I bring to an assignment or on a trip is a Leica. And because of that iconic red dot on the camera’s front side, perhaps the client would still feel reasonably relaxed about my ability to reliably deliver the goods.

I can see a Q being my first Leica and the initial step along this inevitable path.

Kockum Fritid

Kockum Fritid

My images from one of last year’s (2015) huge photo projects has just been published. Kockum Fritid – an all-encompassing sports facility not far from where my studio is and near our condo – just launched their new website. I shot roughly 90% of the photos and had an inspiring time while documenting the various workout classes and a whole bunch of other sports activities.

Toughest activity to photograph? The hockey players. Partially because of the insane amount of colors in the arena and partially due to the cold temperature and slippery working conditions in which I had to try and track fast-moving players as they flew by me. I ain’t no hockey photographer, for sure. Still feel that I got a few inspiring images of which will be used both on their web site and as part of a slideshow on digital signage displays at the entrance.

Easiest were certainly the assignments when I’d hired dedicated models. like during shoots in the gym, squash hall, badminton and swimming pool.

Visit the new site here:

Take a look at the entire collection here.