I created this collage from collection of photos I took of model Tora Rosenkjaer a couple of years ago. I’ve been weirdly fascinated with silhouettes and have had the backgrounds of hundreds of my studio photos removed to create them. Not unlike traffic signs, I suppose it’s the straightforwardness of silhouettes that’s so appealing to me. In an alternative version of this collage, I’ve added my favorite yoga quote; “Bend, So You Don’t Break.
I made a fruit salad for me and Elle this morning after our swim in the sea. The salad made me think of Goa. And for some reason, it turns out that I had completly forgotten to add Goa to the travel section here. After three visits to the former Portuguese colony, Goa has become a recent favorite – especially thanks to the focus on yoga, which is mostly found along the southend of the coast. Goa is in India, but still far from it.
Most of the images are from around the beach village of Agonda, not far from the highly recommendable tiny resort Simrose where I stayed during my most recent visit in April. I often catch myself romanticizing about certain places, filtering out negative stuff and cherry-picking blissful memories. But I just can’t seem to remember anything bad about Goa. Surf was good, food was great, my bungalow had everything I needed in addition to a superb location with a seaview and locals were as friendly as can be. Oh, and the nature experience, both in Agonda and out in the sticks, was daunting. I’d be surprised if I don’t return to Agonda within an a year.
Sunny summer mornings in Malmö are spectacular. Got up at 06:00 am this morning, took a peek out the window and discovered that there was hardly any wind at all. Got dressed, hopped on my bike and rode out to Lilla Torg (Little Square) to photograph a bird’s eye view of the city with the early sun shining with its most flattering light. Among other projects, I’m collecting unique perspectives for a September photo exhibit themed on Malmö.
About a half an hour later, I returned home, spent an hour on the yoga mat after which I got undressed, put on my trunks, bathrobe, summer hat and walked down the promenade for a refreshing dip in the sea. That, my friends, is what I consider a fantastic way to kickstart a Wednesday in July.
“Yoga by the Sea” is an idea I’d thought about for a few years, probably when I started getting serious about yoga as a complimentary way to stay in decent shape. As it turned out, the concept of a yoga class on the giant wooden deck by Scaniabadet here in Malmö came to fruition when I introduced friends (and clients) Joanna and Rickard, the owners of the beachfront restaurant Vibes and my all-time favorite yoga instructor (my yoga modell and friend), Louise Hedberg.
The above collage is from this morning’s yoga class. Temperature was just perfect and there was very little wind. We were quite a few male participants today. And not just in my age group, either. Several young guys that’ve identified how beneficial yoga can be, despite not being nearly as explosive as a crossfit workout or physically demanding as a long run. I miss my jogs and hope to one day once again be able to go for shorter runs – if for no other reason than for the nature experience. But I am so thankful that I discovered the combination of Qigong and Yoga. Together with a weekly weight-lifting workout at our local gym had been nothing less than a blessing for my chronically aching limbs, joints and muscles. Shot the images above with my iPhone X Max S, which, if you know what you’re doing, offers reasonably good quality – at least for web publication. Hope Apple will introduce a native RAW format someday…
Yesterday, a friend from somewhere outside of San Francisco sent me a link to an old New Yorker interview with the painter Georgia O’Keeffe. Here’s the link.
I’ve been a fan of O’Keeffe’s work ever since studying at art college back in 1990. She had such a free-flowing, boundless relationship to her art and a completely uninhibited approach to composition. Georgia was once married to Alfred Stieglitz, the pioneering photographer based in Manhattan and whom practically invented the concept of “fine art photography” and also founded what was one of the first ever photo galleries. I remember being somewhat obsessed by the couple and how two such incredibly talented beings didn’t just fall in love with each other, but also, at least to a degree, found common ground to collaborate. Which up to that point in my life, I’d never remotely experienced in a relationship.
Though I have visited Santa Fe a couple of times and seen O’keeffe’s work exhibited at a local museum, I never visited her studio at Ghost Ranch up in the high desert. During my first visit in 1994 or 1995, I did however go hiking in the hills near Los Alamos – a small town about an hour northwest of Santa Fe near Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL), where, during World War II, Robert Oppenheimer and other scientists created the world’s first atomic bomb.
My primary goal with that hike was to check out the caves at Bandelier National Monument – which count in the thousands – and were used by ancestral Pueblo people as dwellings. The area was also said to be a spiritual destination for many Native Americans.
In a couple of weeks, I’m heading to a completely different kind of spiritual destination, on a continent far, far away from both Malmö and Los Alamos. And when I return, I hope to spend some time back in the peaceful sanctuary of Vejbystrand, where I met the gentle horse above.
There’s something eerie about sheep. At least I find it a little creepy when they stare you down. I’d give a pretty penny to know what’s going through their feeble minds when they stiffen up like the fella above that I met last night at about 09:00pm. Are they instinctively freezing to hopefully go unnoticed until the potentially dangerous stranger leaves their proximity? Or, are they transfixed by a creature so different in sight and smell that their brain just freezes, much like a deer on a road with a car’s headlights beaming into its eyes.
I enjoy photographing animals and I really don’t have any preferences. But I do find that most wild animals analyze my trajectory and if it’s clearly different from their location or path, they’ll be cool and just chill. Which can often give me an opportunity to get in a few shots.
So my tactic for some years now, particularly after a bush walk in Botswana with a 70-year old Ranger a few years ago, is not to approach a subject in the wild straight on, but instead to walk parallell with it and make sure it feels relatively “safe” about my intentions.
Back in Malmö after a few days of great weather and interesting explorations along the south east coast of Spain. Particularly Tarifa was a very pleasant experience. Very chic. When I look through my folder structure in Lightroom (the application I use to organize and “develop” my images through), the folder within “Europe” that has the most destinations after Sweden is Spain. I must really like Spain.
And yet I have a hard time defining my feelings for the country and if I actually want to live there – again. On the one hand, I really love the climate and geography – which remind me of my native southern California. The sun, coastline, beaches, mountains and palm trees make me feel right at home. The diversity is fantastic. I also enjoy much of the Spanish cuisine. Especially the stuff on sale at local markets – like the olives above from the spectacularly beautiful Mercado Central de Atarazanas in downtown Malaga. And I find most Spaniards to be both friendly and good-natured – despite (or, thanks too) our linguistic differences. One day soon, I hope to be able to speak fluent Spanish as I once did as a child in L.A.
On the other hand, there’s a brutally shabby side to Spain that makes me feel a little uncomfortable. Not from a esthetic perspective. It’s more socieltal qualms I feel. Driving up and down the coast we saw some of the most horrendously ugly towns and villages – most of which were seemingly inspired by Sovjet era urban planning (or, rather, lack thereof). Even in the middle of Malaga, where I would think someone within the city’s administration would at least take a peek at design proposals before granting construction permits, we saw mucho samples of architectural misfits. Still, Malaga is like I wrote in an earlier post, considerably more pleasant today than just a decade ago according to what I’ve read. And yes, there were numerous areas we walked through that I could consider living in. Soho being just one.
I’ve been thinking a lot about Spain’s architectural mismatching, and why, in a country so naturally beautiful and famous for its designers as well as architectural wizardry from the likes of Gaudí, Calatrava and artists Dali and Picasso, it continues to thrive.
The conclusion I came up with is simply, corruption. Pay enough to the right folks and you get to do pretty much anything you want in Spain. That said, I’ve also come to understand from folks that do business in the country that corruption isn’t at all as blatant or upfront as it once was during the Franco era. Today, corruption is somehow more sophisticated – masked and camouflaged by an extreme bureaucracy, not too dissimilar of a pyramid scheme; the higher up you are in the bureaucratic pecking order, the bigger the feed gets. So, as long as you’re willing to grease the inner workings of permit committees, regional and local government officials, it’s fairly easy to fill a hillside or a coastal valley with an armada of hideous high-rise towers.
I’m not arguing that Spain is any more corrupt than say, France, Italy or practically any county I’ve ever visited (close to 100). It’s just more visibly obvious. Especially along Costa del Sol, around Barcelona, the suburbs of Madrid and surrounding Palma. In addition to being standalone eyesores, the landscape these concrete monstrosities inhabit and dominate, however stunning, live in the shaddows of and become so “uglified”. But the corruption/beauracracy aspect of doing business inevitebly titls the playing field in favor of those that are in the know and have the means to take advantage of it. And it’s this moral corruption that feels so hopelessly wrong and utterly undemocratic.
Maybe I’m just being snobbish and unfairly comparing more purposefully designed and economically built housing solutions to my comfy, esthetically pleasing, exotically heterogenous bubble here in Västra Hamnen. Yeah, that’s probably the case.
Shot this little snippet in the ancient city of Tarifa yesterday – just after Charlotte put on her new dress which we found at a local design shop called, Bebop in the old town.
From yesterday’s afternoon visit to friends Christian and Malin Gordin’s newly opened Bed & Breakfast Limonero in the ancient and scenic village of Gualchos – about 15 minutess above the seaside town Castel de Ferro and an hour and a half from Malaga.
Charlotte and I were impressed by both how charming Limonero is and the multi-level challenges Christian and Malin certainly have taken on by leaving careers and a comfy social life in Sweden to start fresh as BnB owners in the south of Spain. We wish them all the best and feel confident they’ll succeed.
Spending a few days in Malaga to research for what will inevitably be a richly illustrated travel story for Charlotte’s airline site ASR. I’ve only been to the airport here on my way to a video shoot at a yoga retreat in the Sierra Nevada mountain range in Andalusia.
Málaga has for a decade or so gone through an extensive makeover. We just got here yesterday, but from what I’ve seen so far, it seems a lot cleaner, greener and a less touristy than say, Barcelona and Palma. Málaga is more like a smaller version of Madrid, somehow.
We’re staying in brand new, one bedroom apartment smack in the middle of the trendy Soho neighborhood. Heading out to see the Banksy exhibit later today.
This is a short ‘n sweet launch video for my new book, aptly titled, Turning Torso and produced in collaboration with HSB Malmö. The new book is the same size as my series covering Västra Hamnen, yet has a slew of new photos from inside and outside Santiago Calatrava’s magnificent creation.
I’m obviously biased, but without Turning Torso, Malmö wouldn’t be remotely as interesting and as optimistic as it is today. The skyscraper is a beacon for greatness and an unequivocal symbol of how important it is to allow big ideas to flourish. Being commissioned to create a (second) book about the Turning Torso and thereby document an important chapter in the ongoing story about the “new” Malmö, makes me feel proud and provides me with a solid sense of purpose as an artist.
You can flip through the new book here.
Catharine Murat and her daughter Mercedes – and Vincent, her cute French bulldog – dropped by yesterday evening for a chat. We’d never met before, but Catharine was once upon a time close friends with my aunt Lillemor and to a degree, during her time living in L.A., also with my mother Ina (known by her friends as Cissi). And as if that wasn’t interesting enough, Catharine’s parents and my maternal grandparents were once close friends. This was in the 1940s up in Mellerud, Dalsland, and several years before grandfather Eskil and grandmother Agnes moved to Trollhättan. I forgot to ask, but I’ve always wondered why they moved to Trollhättan. What was the draw? Perhaps to give their four daughters an opportunity to attend better schools than what Järn and Mellerud could possibly have been able to provide at the time.
It was mostly as a sidenote, but Catharine mentioned how family history becomes increasingly interesting the older we get. I agree – at least to the extent that there isn’t too much tragedy involved. I feel that quota is filled to the brim.
Catharine’s daughter Mercedes, is a visual artist with an inspiringly unique portfolio of glass painted with noble metals and a wonderful collection of furniture art. I would love to visit her studio and galleri in the village of Valle, between Skövde och Skara. Hope that happens sometime soon. I’ve recently had a few extremely productive collaborative painting sessions with my buddy and neighbor, the artist Johan Carlsten. Suffice to say that I’ve [finally] seen the light [matured] and the apparent creative benefits of cooperating with fellow artists.
Photo credit: Charlotte Raboff
Here’s a digital painting I created this morning after an invigorating visit to our local gym. It’s a composition of 30 or so photos taken on the side streets and back alleys of Hyderabad, Bangkok, Los Angeles and Las Vegas.
Though my main objective with visits to these remarkable places is usually to document inspiring views and vistas for travel stories, I also spend a significant amount of time photographing patterns, crusty and rusty walls and textures on doors and pavements. I then use a bunch of these to mix, mesh and compose imagery.
I am lucky insofar that I have been able to explore and channel my creativity through a wide range of mediums. Each with its own specific tools and possibilities. I don’t prefer one over the other. On contraire, I think it’s the mix of mediums that keep me curious and challenged. I work fluidly and organically, allowing for “mistakes” and “fuckups” to clear the path towards something that is hopefully interesting – or, in many cases – hopelessly meh.
Creativity is something I believe everyone possesses but few explore in-depth and even fewer can endure the preposterous irregularity of which it can be harnessed. It’s like riding on a wild beast. Once in a while, when you’re in sync, it can take you places you’ve never been or seen before. And even when it bucks and throws you off, eventually you get back on to go for yet another masochistic ride.
From yesterday’s wonderful graduation party in the picturesque village of Svarte for the Fossen family’s youngest, the twins, Felix and Josefin. Tasty food, a steady flow of bubbly and mingeling with old friends and acquaintances kept us busy for a good six hours before boarding the train that took us back to Malmö C.
Like for a lot of teens here in Sweden that start working directly after their High School diploma is secured, including our Elle who’s now typing PLU numbers and exchanging smiles with customers at a nearby supermarket to finance her gap year, last night’s graduation party was not just a celebration of completing a dozen or so years of schooling. It’s also kind of a send-off party or an initiation fest to mark the start of a life less innocent and slothful. Which to some, but not all, might come as a delight mingled with terror – on top of the morning’s hangover.
I suspect the next time we see Felix and Josefin at such a festive occasion will be when either of them get married. Hopefully, they’ll have weather as gorgeous as it was last night. These first few weeks of summer down here in Skåne are just amazing. Nature is so prodigiously chlorophyllic this time of year.
Finally got around to updating some areas on this site. Like this slideshow from Nösund Havshotell. The client list needed a refresh and I’ve also added some new work related slides. Not to compare with Charlotte, but I too have a small collection of sites to maintain and with so much going on in life right now, it’s easy to forget/neglect less crucial stuff. Maintenence work is definitely necessary, but I tend to prioritize and point my creative efforts towards new projects, big or small, rather then updating/refreshing my various websites. How great wouldn’t it be if I could outsource that part of my workload? Tremendously great.
I’ve been hooked on podcasts for close to 10 years. Can’t imagine life without my daily fix. I listen while cooking, emptying the dishwasher, making the bed, before I go to sleep, during walks and workouts and while traveling. Especially while traveling. Tuning in to a podcast on short or long-haul trip is a splendorous way to forget how excruciatingly boring flying is.
I loved listening to radio as a kid and have always seen podcasts as the medium’s natural evolution. It’s basically radio-on-demand but without any of public radio’s ridiculous restrictions and commercial radio’s mind-numbing predictability. And though advertising on podcasts isn’t much different than any other kind of advertising, it’s easy enough to fast-forward and skip ads.
The podcast gamut is widening exponentially and there’s practically a show about any given subject. In my subscription library you’ll find an equal measure of comical and topical podcasts. “Fresh Air” with Terry Gross and the New York Times excellent podcast “The Daily” with Michael Barbaro are just two of a dozen news or “magazine” podcast I listen to with great amusement.
Among my absolute favorite is Conan O’Brien’s’ interview show called, “Conan O’Brien Needs a Friend”. I find listening to Conan is so much funnier than watching his show. He’s like the Jack Benny of podcasting. The latest episode with Martin Short is hysterical and only second to the conversation Conan had with David Sedaris a few months ago where among many topics they chat causally about the perks of going through a colonoscopy.
Not sure most people know this, but the medium’s name “podcast” stems from Apple’s original mp3 player introduced in 2001, the “iPod”. Podcast is basically a semantic amalgamation of what Apple christened the tiny device and an abbreviation of traditional media’s term for mass-distribution > iPod > broadcasting ≈ podcast.
I haven’t owned an iPod in many, many years, but had several iterations, starting with the very first white one with a capacity of roughly 1000 songs and a 10 hour battery life. Just like those old, almost pocketable transistor radios, of which I owned at least one in the late 1970s, it was the combination of the iPod’s enormous capacity, simple functionality and extreme portability that made buying one so irresistible. Not entirely unlike the Sony Walkman, which Steve Jobs, Apple’s co-founder, accordingly to a degree modeled the original iPod after.
My most recent podcast favs include the suspenseful, To Live and Die in L.A. , Phil in the Blanks with Doctor Phil and Hidden Brain with NPR’s Shankar Vedantam. I made the above abstract collage earlier this morning.
The other day I did something I’ve been meaning to do for about 20 years. To make matters a little bit worse, I can’t really explain or defend putting it off for so long.
While scrummaging around in our large storage closet at home, I discovered an old CD in one of those think plastic covers. I’d borrowed this still shiny Compact Disc from a friend whilst living in Visby on the island of Gotland. in 1994 or 1995.
I don’t remember the context, but it could have been my friend insisting that I borrow it so that he could hear me play a few tunes from the album (which I want to recall had a reggae theme) during one of yesteryears many DJ gigs.
Even after taking the CD to the studio, it still took another week for me to put in my pocket along with my friend’s new address, and walk over to our local post office and send it off.
I doubt I’ll ever hear from my old friend, even if he does remember lending it to me and appreciates the gesture of me returning it. You see, we haven’t spoken in about as many years as I’ve had his CD in storage. Albeit long in the making, it still sure feels real good to have finally done the right thing.
TCOB = Taking Care of Business.
Photo = Almedalen in Visby, Gotland
Sharing is caring. Sharing my enthusiasm for how Yoga (and Qigong) has helped ease my reoccurring rheumatic discomfort is important. So a few weeks ago I did some matchmaking between the inspiringly gifted instructor Louise Hedberg and the energetic entrepreneurs/owners of our neighborhood’s beach-front restaurant Vibes, Rickard Nilsson and Joanna Hartey.
And so, this morning, in the first of four outdoor sessions throughout June, just shy of 30 yogis stood on a large weooden deck near the sea while Lousie guided us through her flow of poses. After about an hour, Vibes served up a sustainable breakfast with coffee/te, a cheese sandwich of freshly baked bread and a ginger shot. Will be at Vibes at Scaniabadet again next Sunday at 09-10.
I can feel how it’s itching in my Far East nerve again. After having regularly visited the Asian continent – particularly to South East Asia – for more than three decades, it’s a reoccurring itch for both Charlotte and myself. Hopefully we’ll be back within a few months. I miss the convenience of street food, the friendly smiles beaming from most locals and all the fascinating and mystifying idiosyncrasies that make being a photographer there so wildly inspiring.
One of my favorite trips was when Charlotte, Elle and I spend a few weeks traveling around Myanmar (Burma) a few years ago. I’ve collected a tidy batch of images from that adventure here.
Here’s a few of Charlotte’s and my snapshots from Wednesday’s graduation party for Elle. As if the occasion wasn’t heartwarming enough, the fact that so many of our friends flew in from Stockholm, travelled down from Göteborg or other places to celebrate with Elle and us was just amazing.
The weather was fabulous (25C/77F), the food apparently tasted great; pasta salad, french and classic potato salad, two kinds of veggie pie, a ton of sushi, hummus, salsa, guacamole and for desert, local brand, “Lillpop” ice cream on a stick and a variety of macarons and cakes. And since we earlier today returned about half the booze we’d bought, we can surmise that guests drank moderately.
If you were there, thank you for joining us. It was a special evening and we loved sharing it with you. The Raboff’s are fairly well-known for throwing fun gatherings once in a while. The next one might just be when Elle gets married. Hopefully that’ll happen a ways down the road. Because as pleasurable and memorable as Elle’s high school graduation festivity was to arrange and be part of, Charlotte and I are both feeling a little weary (but mostly happy and relieved).
From yesterday’s graduation ceremony, or, rather celebration at Elle’s high school, Malmö Borgarskola. The vibe was amazing, albeit a little on the hysterical side. Made me think of vikings and how they must of partyed, a thousand years or so ago. Regardless of ethnicity, all students absorbed and embraced the idiosyncratic graduation traditions of wearing white hats with black rims, all white garb, hanging a half dozen odd mascots around their necks and singing a bunch of more or less explicit songs while dancing erratically.
I don’t remember what it was like when I graduated from High School in Göteborg. 1981 is just too distant, I suppose. But I’m sure it wasn’t that dissimilar from what Elle survived yesterday afternoon. And had I continued to Fairfax High after graduating from Bancroft Junior High in L.A., instead of moving to Sweden in 1978, I’m sure it wouldn’t have been a much less intoxicated experience. Not that Elle was even remotely tipsy when we celebrated her graduation. On the contrary. She was among the few sober students in the schoolyard and stayed completely coherent on the truck and later in the evening during our party for her.
The weather gods are with us. At least insofar that they’ve promised warmth and mostly cloudless skies during Wednesday’s high school graduation party for Elle.
If everyone shows up, we’ll be a merry 75 folks celebrating our daughter’s last day of secondary education at Borgarskolan here in Malmö. It’ll be the biggest gathering of friends and family since Charlotte and I got married in Mölle by the Sea back in 1998, 21 years ago. One huge difference is that Elle will enjoy much better weather than we did back then. We’re catering most of the food – but I’ll be making a huge batch of guacamole, a large bowl of spicy salsa and some cummin and sesame flavored hummus.
Though the occasion is obviously meant to celebrate Elle’s achievement of graduating high school – and sorry if this comes across as being self-congratulatory – I also see it as something we as parents and her guides/advisors should be permitted to commemorate as well.
Don’t get me wrong here. Raising Elle has been mostly super-smooth sailing. Easier and certainly less dramatic than say, what I experienced and more relaxed/exciting than Charlotte’s upbringing. That said, I ascribe much of Elle’s positive attitude and social competence to us being reasonably good role models – both at home and during all our visits abroad. Not that there hasn’t been a few speed bumps or the occasional hurdle along the road. That kinda goes without saying. Like most parents, we fuck up from time to time. But both Charlotte and I have good reason to stand tall and be proud of both ourselves and our beautiful daughter during the celebrations.
The graduation party indubitably marks the end of an era in all our lives. Even if she’s been 18 for six months already, Elle is somehow more of an adult now. It’s time to let go. Yet as most mothers and fathers know, parenthood is a lifelong commitment (emotionally and, hopefully, to a lesser degree, financially). And even when we later on this year venture off in different directions geographically, we all know that our emotional bond to each other will continue to be close and resilient.
Shot the above view earlier this morning, about an hour after returning from the gym at Kockum Fritid (my first serious workout in about two weeks).
As if Wednesday’s challenge wasn’t enough, I spent much of Friday and Saturday evenings playing soul and funk from spinning virtual turntables down by Vibes on the beach here in Västra Hamnen.
The software I’ve been using for the occasional DJ gig still doesn’t support Apple Music, so it was a bit of a bitch to pick and choose my playlist. My workaround was to alternatively play songs from iTunes and mix them with those in the DJ app’s tunes deck.
From an intellectual property perspective, I totally get why Apple had to use hardcore DRM (digital rights management) software to make playing songs from their huge catalogue through third party applications literally impossible. But I find it strange why there isn’t at least one programmer out there that offers a plugin for iTunes so that I could at least be able to perform som rudimentary DJ stuff within it.
In any case, it was great to reaffirm visavi compliments from a few of Vibes guests that my musical taste still hits home. And that autogenerated playlists from Tidal, Apple Music or Spotify will never, ever be able to outperform what a live DJ can deliver.
From yesterday’s Fuckup Nights Malmö 2019 where I was one of four fuckupers to speak in front of about 200 people. Fuckup Nights was founded in Mexico and is now organized in 318 cities across 86 countries (and counting) with the goal of sharing every kind of fuckup – from small mishaps to epic mistakes. According to Charlotte and a few others, I nailed it. Which I definitely didn’t think I was going to do after my really, really bad rehearsal. It was a very well-organized event that I feel really happy to have been a part of. Here’s my speach:
Good Evening, Everybody!
Thank you for inviting me to Fuckup Night Malmö.
My name is Joakim Lloyd Raboff and I haven’t had a fuckup in 12 hours. At least not one that I’m aware of….
So, I work as a photographer here in Malmö. You might have come across my work in Västra Hamnen which I’ve documented in absurdum for more than a decade.
If there ever was a profession beleaguered with fuckups, it’s definitely mine. Why else do you think all us photographers take so many darn photos? We actually fuck up so much that the only way we can get away with getting paid is by taking hundreds of photos… so that at least statistically, we’ll end up with a few usable shots.
Sometimes being a photographer can be a challenging way to pay the bills. I’ve gone diving with great white sharks for travel magazine, documented super-tall buildings from ridiculously small planes and have had neurotic portrait clients expect me to perform miracles with my camera and Photoshop – when it’s really a therapist and a dentist they should be seeing.
But when all is said and done, I really love my job. It allows me to buy cool camera gear, travel the world and meet a bunch of mostly interesting people.
Obviously, over the years, I’ve worked with a lot of different companies. Small and large. Known and unknown. Fun and not so much fun. I’ve worked with the United Nations, Skanska, ICA and IKEA as well as Agda’s ugly poodle Lola.
I think it’s the mix of clients and assignments that has helped keep me on my toes. Yes, I’ve had a great run – without any career-ending fuckups. So far.
Truth be told, when Jacob Lejdström asked me if I would share a major fuckup with you guys tonight, I had to think for a while to remember one that stood out and hovered above the rest.
Then I recalled a gig from a few years back. It was an assignment for a special kind of doctor. The kind that performs photoshop in real life – with a real knife. Yes, a plastic surgeon.
I’d been working on an off with this particular doc for a few years. And no, it’s not the asshole that raped his son’s girlfriend after sedating her. It was a different quack. A decent fellow.
Anyway, my assignments for the doctor would typically include documenting his patients post-op and then working on the before and after images in Photoshop to achieve similar lighting and scale. You get the idea, like aligning noses, ears, throats, hips, thighs and bellies. Of course, my shots were always better lit and composed, so most of my time was spent editing the doctor’s photos at his clinic. For some reason, he never asked me to shoot any of his breast enlargement or reduction patients. Not once.
About a year into my working relationship with the plastic surgeon, he called to ask me if I would come in and photograph a patient that had recently undergone a breast enlargement procedure. He also mentioned that the entire clinic had recently been renovated and suggested I start shooting in his office. With my entrepreneur’s hat on, I thought this was a great opportunity to get more work from him. Especially since the vast majority of his clients were there to get bigger boobies.
The patient, Maria, a women in her early 30s and I arrived a few minutes after each other and the clinic’s secretary introduced us. The doc was in one of the operating rooms and I wouldn’t see him until later that afternoon.
I kindly asked Maria to step in to the doctor’s office and proceeded to explain the objective of the shoot. She looked a little perplexed but nodded and smiled as if everything was perfectly normal. While slowly removing her sweater and bra, she told me that only about a week had passed since her operation and that she was still a little sore and stiff. I told her to relax and that we had plenty of time.
I’d pulled the drapes across the office windows so the nearby office workers wouldn’t be able to look in. So it was kinda dark in the office. Once she was topless, I started shooting.
Like most professional photographers with reasonably high ethical standards, I worked this gig with both a scientific and artistic approach and shot Maria’s new breasts from every possible angle and with every lens I had in my camera bag at the time.
And despite what must have seemed like advanced acrobatics to Maria, she just followed my instructions and moved, shifted and bent her torso to every new angle I came up with.
30 minutes and 200 photos later, we were done. Before she left, Maria asked me if I didn’t want to take any shots of her in the clinic’s waiting room or the small café.
No, no, I replied with a smile. – I think I’ve got all the photos the doctor needs now. Maria smiled, we shook hands and off she went.
I grabbed a coffee, sat down in the café and started looking through my collection of Maria’s breasts and felt exhausted from the fairly intense shoot. Half an hour later, the doctor walked into the café and asked me how things had gone.
Excited about the prospect of getting more work from him, I shared my unbridled enthusiasm.
– It went really, really, well, I said.
– I’m so looking forward to seeing how you photographed our new waiting room and café with one of our patients in it. Isn’t Maria a sweet girl?
Uh…what? I was devastated. How the hell did I not get that the doctor wanted me to shoot Maria as a lifestyle model in his new clinic – and not post-operations photos of her enlarged breasts?
I knew from previous assignments that the doctor could be a bit absent-minded and his briefs were often confusing…but this was still way off the radar screen…but how could I have fucked up so badly?
And what would the doctor think of me once I told him? Was he going to think that despite being a serious photographer and a happily married man, that all I really wanted to do was shoot women’s boobies?
I was caught somewhere between a mind-fuck and a presumed shit storm.
Eventually I calmed down and told the doctor that I had totally fucked up and misunderstood his “brief”. He forgave me and we continued to work together for about another five years. I went on to help him create books, film operating procedures and prepare for lectures. I even designed the sign outside his new clinic when he moved across town.
In conclusion, communication is everything and assumptions are the mother of all fuckups. But you still need a significant amount of fuckups to succeed.
When you’re a freelance photographer, unless you have a steady gig for a reoccurring client, you have to keep your eyes and ears open at all times! Not only do you have to recognize an opportunity when it comes along, you also have to seize that sucker! I’ve had a reasonable amount of success over the years and still have a good reputation.
I think the key to being successful as a freelance photographer and entrepreneur is my ability to learn from all my fuckups. But it took a seemingly endless amount of mistakes and bad calls to get to the pivotal moment in my career when there were actually more happy endings than fuckups.
But in all honesty, I kinda miss the fuckups. Why? Because they meant I was likely trying something above my competence level – and living more on the edge.
I still try to challenge myself. But because of all my previous failures, I’ve got a huge library of fuckups to help me recognize and avoid them. Which inevitably makes me a less adventurous (boring) photographer.
As I get older, I really need to keep reminding myself that it’s the fuckups and not the success that move me forward. #fuckupmore #beforemetoo
Thanks for listening!
In cooperation with the beach side restaurant Vibes, starting on the 9th of June and then every Sunday of the month between 9-10 a.m., the excellent yoga instructor Louise Hedberg will be leading an outdoor yoga class at Scaniabadet here in Västra Hamnen. Included in the nominal fee is a breakfast with sustainable ingredients, served directly after the class.
Here’s a video I produced for the event, most of which was shot when there weren’t Chinese or Polish tourists on the set last Sunday. If you’re a yoga practitioner (these days, who isn’t?) and in the vicintiy, here’s where you can sign up for this great yoga + breakfast combo.
While cleaning house in preparation for Elle’s High School graduation party at our place in a couple of weeks, our daughter discovered several of her paternal grandmother’s sixth grade workbooks – all dating from 1945.
My mother, Solveig Ina Andersson, was 14 at the time she finished the book and as there was a page with an Easter theme, I can surmise that it was completed sometime during the spring semester that year – just a few months before World War II ended, on September 2, 1945.
What thoughts must have been going through my mother’s mind at the time? Especially at her age and during that precarious era. As peace approached in the European and African war theaters, yet was still ongoing in Asia and the South Pacific, I wonder what plans she was making for her future. Her parents, my grandmother Agnes and grandfather Eskil, must have hoped their family would soon be able to enjoy a more peaceful existens. For even if Sweden stayed neutral during the war (through dubiuos political bargaining), the rationing and looming threat of being pulled into the war was certainly impacted daily life.
My mother eventually became a nurse, left Järna, her village in Sweden, and moved first to London, then New York and finally settled down in Los Angeles, where together with my father, she started a family and lived out the rest of her relatively short life. There’s some footage of her a little more than a decade later right here.
Though I have zero positive memories of her from when I was a child and in her care, I do find some kind of solace while looking at stuff from days when my mother was a young and innocent woman full of hopes and dreams of an interesting, adventurous life filled with love and happiness. The same kind of hopes I now have for Elle.
Side note: I’m amazed at how well-preserved my mother’s workbook is after almost 75 years. Imagine picking up an iPhone in 75 years…
Elle and I took out the trash this morning and while sorting the contents of boxes and bags into relevant recycling bins, I noticed that much of our waste was various forms of paper packaging. It made me feel good that we didn’t have that much made of plastic to throw away.Which is not to say that I in any way, shape or form am a good environmental citizen.
These are confusing times. On the one hand, more people than ever seem aware of the planet’s environmental crisis. Yet the vast majority of us that agree drastic measures are needed to slow down the ensuing catastrophe – stemming from decades of arrogans, neglect and denial – are in essence ignorant about how we as a collective can contribute to make substantial change.
And even if climate science has been politicised and is used as arsenal in the war between conservatives and liberals, the trajectory of Earth’s population growth is compelling enough evidence that there is no way we can sustain our current lifestyle without fucking the planet up to the point of inhabitability.
I mean, once China (1.4 billion), India (1.4 billion), Sub Saharan Africa (1.3 billion) and South America (400 million) catch up with us in Europe (750 million) and in North America (600 million) and yearn for all the material stuff (furniture, cars, clothes), foods (meat, dairy + processed crap) and holiday travel we’ve come to define our quality of life by, we’re basically screwed. And even if overpopulation doesn’t get us, the natural resources needed to support everyone and everything will ineluctably dry up. I’m all for recycling and innovate ways to reduce our addiction to fossil fuels, but when most of what companies like Wall-mart, HM and IKEA sell are heavily dependent on plastics and synthetics, not to mention shipping, we’re still going to need more oil than Mother Earth has stored in her belly.
When all is said and done, I’m still an optimist, albeit a cynical one. Because though I might feel a slight pinch during my lifetime, like the Nobel Prize winning idea of a global carbon tax or an even bigger increase in the frequency of natural disasters and even more smoged cities, I will likely live out my terrestrial life way before the apocalyptic future arrives. Which is probably how most folks my age and older – and much of Gen X reason; “Hell, it ain’t my problem once I’m gone”, or, “I worked hard to get where I’m at, I ain’t makin’ no sacrifices”. #nonissue #whogivesaratsass #colonizemars
The image above is from the Bay of Pigs on Cuba.
Of all of last year’s new clients, Rosengårds Fastigheter, a new residential property owner and developer, was by far the most engaging and inspiring.
I shot and edited four short portrait films of key employees, took a bunch of PR photos, navigated a drone to capture the neighborhood from way above and documented more than 30 individual properties. The other day, the company’s annual report arrived with a slew of photos I’d shot in it.
Rosengård is a Malmö neighborhood which has, mostly unfairly, come to represent the bulk of challenges facing the city in regards to integration and related socio-economic concerns.
There are obviously issues that need addressing. But Rosengård is actually relatively peaceful and flush with green and airy spaces. And thanks to being such an eclectic melting pot, I think you have to be really naive to not see that the area has huge potential.
I’ve visited plenty of places around the world that have metamorphosed over time. Nothing stays the same. So I’m convinced the tide will eventually turn for Rosengård. And Rosengårds Fastigheter will certainly play a key role in that transformation.
Went to the gym early this morning. At 06:00 am, there were four of us patiently waiting for the janitor to open the entrance’s sliding doors. By the time I was done with my cardio warmup on the treadmill, five or six more people had arrived. I’m guessing here, but I’d say most of us early birds are a few years above fifty, but by the time I’d completed my workout at 07:01 am, a half dozen “old timers” had also arrived. For them, the gym is as much a social venue as a place that helps them get or stay fit. While I go through my program with rigorous focus and a podcast playing through my Airpods, the retirees take it nice and easy, spending plenty of time chatting with each other in between gym machines and stretching exercises.
The above shot is from a rooftop apartment in Havana, Cuba. I don’t remember the circumstances of how I got to this vantage point, but I do remember loving the view. One of the capital’s most famous gyms is located somewhere over to the right in the photo. I don’t know the current state, but last I was there, the workout equipment would easily have qualified for an exhibit at the Smithsonian.
Back to the scene above. There’s something indescribably beautiful and soulful about buildings so old they look like they could be or should be condemned. The dilapidation is surely not as appreciated by those forced to live in them. But for a photographer coming from the diametrically opposite environs – like Västra Hamnen – where every square centimeter is relatively new and shiny, and where there is very little, if any, soul to be seen or felt, places like Havana are nothing less than a visual bonanza. I hope to return one day. In the meantime, I’ve got a collection of images from my two visits here.
I’ve spoken to a few locals here, Swedes that have lived and had businesses for several years, decades even. The consensus is that there have never been as many Swedes living on or visiting the island as right now. With all the sun-depraved visitors flying in from Stockholm, Malmö, Göteborg and other cities, I suppose it’s not really surprising that Swedish seems to be the second most spoken language here in Palma. I don’t mean it’s a nascence (though you do have to watch what you say) – it’s just that after Bodrum, where we barely heard anyone from Scandinavia (but plenty from Holland and Turkey), it’s a little strange to hear so much Swedish chatter.
Aside from an absolutely terrible fish dish last night at an unnamed Swedish owned restaurant (but not La Perla), the food experience has been really good here.
Though much smaller, I could argue that the number of decent corner restaurants here in Palma is pretty much on par with what I’ve experienced in Barcelona. Like the ancient eatery El Puente, a new favorite place where we’ve already eaten a few times. Might even end up there tonight again. More images from Mallorca/Majorca here.
I think this could be my 20th visit to Majorca and I feel reasonably at home in Palma. At least as long as I stick to the center, that is. As soon I venture beyond Cala Major, things tend to get a bit hazy and everything looks more or less the same to me. Kinda like 50 shades of beige. I’ve been doing a lot of walking since arriving and today was no exception with more than 12k. This is absolutely the best time of year to visit Palma. It’s warm but not balmy, sunny but cool in the shade and nowhere nearly as crowded as it will inevitably be in about a month.
Above is a shot from a few years ago of a church in Soller.
From earlier today over Vintrie, a small village adjacent to Malmö’s popular shopping Emporia and the region’s latest neighborhood, Hyllie. I was flying over the area capturing images for a client with several ongoing construction projects in the area. Tomorrow by this time of day, I’ll be in a climate much warmer than what we’ve got here.
I find it increasingly interesting how my memory works – especially so when it fails me. With my humungous computer archive (4TBs and counting), I obviously have the advantage of being able to recollect by looking through my images, videos and rereading articles I’ve penned.
I wonder if a day will come when I don’t recognize photos I’ve taken, videos I’ve shot or stories I have written. Probably.
In an entirely different part of my memory, I recently find myself making these really interesting associations. Like for example, this old tractor we came across during our bike ride in rural Kos the other day.
As soon as I saw it parked on the edge of the field, I felt compelled to get off my bike and photograph it. But why? Perhaps because my maternal grandfather Eskil had a similar tractor back in the 1970s. I know I rode in the cabin with him a few times. And he might even have let me steer it, too. Don’t remember that level of detail, though. Heck, I don’t even recall what type of stuff he grew on the fields outside of Trollhättan. Wheat? Probably.
I wonder what a loaf of bread tasted like back then. Would it be more flavorful, healthier to eat and would the methods for growing the grain be better for the planet than what’s used today? Everything seemed less sinister in the 1960s and 1970s. Maybe I’m just naive. Probably.
My maternal grandmother, Eskil’s wife Agnes (which prepensely is Elle’s middle name) used to make a fluffy, yet wonderfully chewy flatbread that when eaten straight out of the oven and topped with home-churned butter and a generously thick slice of creamy cheese, put me in a state of calm that I’ve since never experienced.
Some mornings when I stayed with Agnes and Eskil, breakfast would consist of a slice of grandma’s delicious bread and a large cup of really sweet hot chocolate. I remember exactly where I sat at the small kitchen table with its wax tablecloth and window overlooking the road to the barn. To my left was grandpa, holding up the local paper and mumbling now and again about something he had just read. Rarely did Agnes take a load off and sit with me for breakfast.
There seemed to always be a ton of stuff to do in the kitchen, around the house or on the farm. Like making sure gramps had his lunch with him before he took the tractor parked out back and headed out in to the fields.
More photos from Bodrum and Kos are now available here.
Shot this timelapse from our balcony yesterday. Not suffering from jetlag, yet I still wake up sometime between 4 and 5 am-ish, mainly for a pee, and can’t get back to sleep after that. So after yesterday’s awakening, I got the idea to capture a compressed 24 hours of our fabulous view.
A friend pointed out the other evening – over a glass or two of summertime wine – that my climate change motivated intention at the onset of 2019 to travel less was failing miserably.
I thought of this while showering a few minutes ago. The warm water took a little longer than usual to arrive and I caught myself feeling impatient by the delay.
I could argue that unlike many other business travellers, or, as I like to call them, “corporate seagulls” who constantly fly from meeting to meeting and likely spend more time in airport lounges than they do with their families (let alone experiencing much of the places they travel to), my travels document destinations and I share my impressions – in words and visuals – with many thousands of people. Though I these days rarely produce much for Swedish travel magazines, once my work is published on, for example, www.airlinestaffrates.com under Travel Tips or on the site’s companion Facebook page, over 170,000 people can read it.
Conversely, one could argue that my travel stories only encourage more people to board fossil fuel burning planes, cars, buses and boats.
After almost 20 years of professional travelling, it’s going to be unimaginably difficult to change my ways. I am prepared, however, just as soon as I find the perfect place to settle down at. A place so immaculately beautiful, socially and ethnically heterogeneous yet remarkably affordable, warm and clean, that my need to travel will be forever quenched. Tips, anyone? Maui comes to mind…aside from the affordable side of that island (where it’s anything but affordable).
The little fishies above gave their lives to a sauce or stew at some streetside restaurant in Asia of which I have no recollection.