Rummaging through one of my archives today, I stumbled across several photos of Okondja, the cute and wild Affenpinscher I shot in my old studio a few years back. As friendly as she was, I can’t see myself ever owning a dog that small. They’re just too twitchy and skittish. But cute, very cute. Sadly, I’ve heard that Okondja sometime after moving to South Africa passed away. More of my dog photos from around the world can be viewed here.
From yesterday’s morning shoot at Kockum Fritid with model and former competitive swimmer, Gustav Åberg Lejdström. The Butterfly stroke, or, the “Fly” as it’s called among competitive swimmers, is something I never even attempted as a young member of the West Hollywood Park Swim Team in the late 1970s or during my short time at S02 in Göteborg in the early 1980s.
Back in the day, I swam the Crawl/Freestyle and won a few swim meets as a sprinter in the 100 yard distance. I think the Butterfly stroke is really interesting as it mimics both a dolphin’s tail movement and the wing flap of a butterfly. During peak speed, the Butterfly stroke is apparently the fastest of all styles. Which I saw some proof of yesterday while trying to capture the above shot. Took me a good 100 tries before I got it right.
This is Felicia Nilsson, a talented figure skater from Malmö that I’ve had the privilege of working with on a few occasions while working on an advertising assignment for our local sports center, Kockum Fritid.
I shot this with the Fuji Fujinon 56mm f1,2 at ISO400 and though not visible in the monochrome version above, shooting in an ice skating rink is really asking for as much color trouble as possible. Not only are there several competing color temperatures involved, the innumeral amount of crossing vertical and horizontal lines and shapes make composing a shot of a fast moving subject extremely difficult. Despite or maybe thanks to all the disstractions, I still found shooting Felecia and colleague Nicole both fun and creatively challenging.
For many years I lived a tangled life. Then came the AirPods and I felt as if a huge weight was lifted from my…ears. I used my pair of white wireless earbuds extensively. Probably as much as 3-4 hours a day – including when I fell a sleep listening to a podcast.
Finally, after about two years of daily use and waking up with one or both often lodged somewhere in the skin folds of my back or stomach after a night of sleep, the microphone and then the batteries started to give up. I could still use them, but the charge wouldn’t hold for more than an hour or so.
I ordered a pair of AirPods 2.0 just as soon as they were announced. I actually placed my order while lying on a bed overlooking the Indian Ocean in Goa without a nanosecond of hesitation. That’s how good I think this Apple product is and how dependent I am to using them to listen and talk via the iPhone. Love this little film Apple produced for the Airpods. And The New York Times has a good albeit somewhat crticial take on the new Airpod version.
It’s cold but beautiful today in Malmö. I’m going through my images from Goa and the contrasts between here and there make the photos seem as if they were all part of a vivid dream or an elaborately detailed hallucination. The change of temperature, humidity and above all, shift from a cacophony of scents and smells to a bouquet of… nothing is a little bewildering.
Met this sweet woman at her spice shop along the north end of Agonda’s main village road. After about a week of enjoying Indian and Nepalese food, I was getting used to the mix of essential spices found in the local Masala dishes, including tumeric, cumin, and the indispesible and irreplaceable coriander.
When I saw this steamroller crushing gravel that had been carried and then emptied from the workers baskets earlier today, I was transfixed. How far from my existens was this? Lightyears.
This is my friendly cleaning lady. I’ve kept a fairly neat ship, so I only need her help every other day. I’ve heard her hum what is probably a well-known Indian tune when she’s sweet my patio.
The headline “Meine Reinemachefrau” is German for My Cleaning Lady and is a reference to the brilliant, deadpan comedy, “Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid” starring Steve Martin. I don’t know why I thought of that right now. Maybe because so many German guests have checked into the hotel over the last couple of days.
I deactivated my Facebook account this morning and I feel a weight has been lifted from my shoulders. Once again I found myself caught in a crossfire between having unreasonably high expectations of appreciation from what I often spent a lot of time creating and posting – and a really weird sense of resentfulness when people posting what I thought was meaninglessness were receiving a ridiculous amount of attention
– Life is not online. It’s happening every second you look beyond the screen. The only likes and comments that really count, are those you give and receive from people you interact with in real-time.
I’ve deactivated my account before and after a five year hiatus, I decided to give it a shot and see if the algorithm had changed for the better – or, if I had changed my attitude. Sadly, the answer is neither. It’s still an eco-system where everyone – whether they are aware of it or not – strive to achieve popularity and celebrity status among their friends and followers. It’s a dark place where the currency is valued in the number of Likes, Comments and Shares you collect. It’s an unhealthy place to spend even a few minutes a day. Let alone hours.
From yesterday’s adventure in the beautiful rural hills above Agonda in south Goa, India. I used a suction cup on the windshield of the rickshaw to connect a Gopro Hero 7 Black to see if the hypersmoth stabilization was as good as proclaimed. And it was. I’m fairly sure that it films in 4k and then uses the higher resolution to stabilize the footage in realtime and then downsample and render it to a still impressive 2.7k.
Once I’ve discovered or located something that “fits the glove” snuggly, I’m inclined to stick with it. At least for a while or until something more appealing shows up. Such is the case with the English breakfast they serve here and that I make a very tasty open-face sandwich of. Firstly, I butter the toast, then cover each slice generously with baked beans and finally top this culinary concoction off with the fried eggs. Back when I ate meat, I might have also added a fistful of bacon to the recipe. But the thought almost disgusts me now. I don’t touch the ketchup, but I’ll eat the hashbrown potato cake thingy between the two sandwiches.
If you didn’t check out the video in the previous post (below) here’s what I looked like when the staff and fellow guests had smeared color all over me during the Holi Spring Festival.
I’ve since handed in my t-shirt and shorts to the laundry lady, visited a local barber and had an Ayurvedic massage.
From today’s extremely playful and colorful celebration of the vibrant Spring Festival called Holi. Shot on a Gopro Hero 7 (4k) and an iPhone 7+ (4k/720p). I’ve handed in my clothes to a local laundry shop, but they were dubious about being able to clean all of the colors. Not to fret, I said. Could make for a nice keepsake from an extraordinary day. Read more about Holi here.
After a weeklong delay, a short stint in Delhi, I’m now back on schedule and have arrived safely in Goa.
The distance from the chilly, windy and pallid southern Sweden to the balmy and colorful southern India couldn’t be wider.
While it was officially spring in Sweden yesterday, here in Goa today, they will be celebrating “Holi” which is the Hindu festival of colors honoring the triumph of good over evil, increasing the prospect of a favorable harvest as well as improving fertility.
The layered image above is a composition of cows I met heading down the village road yesterday afternoon and a young guy with a lavish hairdo I came across a few minutes later.
From last year’s visit to south Goa in India. Shot on an old GoPro and an iPhone in the beatiful hills behind Agonda Beach during an afternoon. I remember having stubbed my toe on a piece of wood at the hotel that morning – yet still insisting on going surfing afterwards.
From an interview I did for Paris based TV team Story W. They visited in January to produce a story about unique sustainability projects in Malmö – primarily Västra Hamnen and Hyllie. The reportage will be shown on Swiss TV station Radio Television Suisse (RTS) and on a yet to be disclosed (to me anyway) French TV channel as well.
Thanks to a friend, wine connoisseur and restauranteur Erik Schneider, I was invited to Tuscany to photograph for a few days in the Val d’Orcia region. The winery Cal d’Orcia, founded and operated by Count Cinzano (one of the family members that make and own the aperitif brand) hosted me for the week. Tuscany is as beautiful as I’d read about – and then some. And a completely different Italy than what I had seen in other regions of the country. Here’s a collection from the visit.
Been so busy lately, that I’ve totally forgot about updating the travel section. I’m giving it some attention now and in addition to the South Bronx and Tokyo, Istanbul went up yesterday. Politics aside, Istanbul is absolutely amazing and I’d love to return one day. If for no other reason, then for all the friendly folks I met during the weeklong visit a few years ago. If you look closely, you’ll see a plane taking off behind the Blue Mosque. More from Istanbul here.
So, it turns out that we might not be getting any winter at all. We’ve only had a few hours of snow and few days with subzero temperatures. Nowhere near what the folks in New York have had to endure and continue to cope with. I hope now we can look forward to an early spring. Despite reasonable temperatures, mostly above zero, the cold and dry air has been unusually cold and dry.
From the bamboo forest on the outskirts of Kyoto, Japan. I can’t put my finger on exactly why I’m so intrigued with the country, but I really love visiting Japan and hope to visit again sometime later this year. I suppose I say that about a lot of places, mostly because I’m constantly thinking about places I’ve been, some of which I wish to return to. Check out my collection of images from Tokyo/Kyoto here.
Here’s a composite of two different images from the same afternoon in Bangkok. I had told photojournalist Thomas Engström and his wife Lena about a really funky area near Chinatown called Talad Noi that was literally filled with auto parts and invited them to join me on the tail end of a photo shoot I was doing there with a local model in a ballerina outfit.
There was a time when I was a fairly sought after disc-jockey. For a couple of years, before I grew tired of all the late nights and smoke-filled nightclubs, I toured southern Sweden with two CD cases brimming with what I still consider to be some of the best music ever recorded. Fundamentally, my preferred genre was soul and all the cousins therein – including soothing R&B, Funk and danceable Pop.
Once in while I’ll take on a gig if for no other reason to share my favorite tunes at a bar, restaurant and almost any place where good music is welcome. In about three months, if your in the vicinity of the restaurant above, you’ll likely hear a few delicately chosen tracks by Sam & Dave, Aretha, Marvin, Chaka and Blackness. Stay tuned for date and time.
Naming my art pieces has always been something I enjoy doing. This particular painting’s name comes from a mix of Kafka and actual Niigata koi fish that I saw swimming in a pond in Siem Reap last fall. Some of them were breaching the pond water and splashing about – as if they knew nothing of the gravity pulling them back in to the murky water or how limited their life would be should they succeed at jumping out of the water and onto the finely cut gravel where I stood and studied them.
Early this morning, Elle Ingrid Agnes Raboff, our 18 year old daughter, got her driver’s license with flying colors. That might not seem much of biggie if you’re in the US of A where the local DMV will issue a license without much fuss. But here in Sweden, to get behind the wheel of a car is a pretty big deal with an almost preposterous amount of traffic rules and regulations. Stuff you need to learn for both the theoretical test and then prove you comprehend during the practical examination – which takes place on busy urban streets and even busier highways.
So, Charlotte and I are super happy for Elle. And more importantly, extremely proud of our wonderful daughter!
This is a piece I finished a couple of days ago. It’s an acrylic painting on canvas (100 x 140 cm) where I’ve added elevating structure to the surface and made use of the repetitive window patterns to create an abstract landscape.
I call it the Turning Torso Conundrum to reflect how the building’s asymmetrical form and shape isn’t so easily defined or pigeon-holed. Which in turn is something I can easily relate to.
I shot this self-portrait years ago in my old studio here in Malmö. At that time I was training Kick n’ Box at our local gym and sports center, Kockum Fritid, three times a week.
For reasons unbeknownst to me, the class was discontinued and since I didn’t feel like I wanted to spend the time going to and from a different sports center, I went back to running and working out at our gym, usually Mon-Wed-Fri from 06:00 am to 7:00 am.
This morning, for the first time in about a year, I was back at the gym at 06:00 am and spent about an hour working up a good sweat. Just before I left, I happened to notice that there was a full-size boxing bag hanging in one of the gym’s recently remodeled rooms. I have to admit that I got a little excited when I saw it and went looking for a pair of sparring gloves. With them strapped on, I then spent roughly 15 minutes punching away until my arms felt like they were filled with Jell-O. Going to try to create a balanced training regimen this spring – an equilibrium – that includes gym training, boxing and yoga. And maybe some swimming.
I call this piece “Calatravism”. It’s an abstract collage made from over 30 photographs of the Spanish architect, engineer and sculptor Santiago Calatrava’s skyscraper, Turning Torso located right here in Västra Hamnen. It’s one of my most popular pieces, especially when printed on thick acrylic, like the one hanging right now on display in my new studio.
If I step out of my studio and walk 20 feet to the left, I’ll have the magnificent Turning Torso right in front of me. It’s quite the sight. And where most skyscrapers are often anal-retentively symmetric, towering above us as monuments of our incorrigible hubris as well as physical insignificance, Calatrava’s contribution to Malmö’s skyline has a uniquely asymmetrical, organic, approachable feel to it. Which is likely why I’ve never tired of photographing and interpreting it.
Based on his marble sculpture, “Twisting Torso”, the 190 meter tall building was upon completion in 2005, the world’s first twisted skyscraper and continues to attract visitors from all over the world. I ride my bike past it almost every day and even when it’s pouring down, there’s almost always someone standing in front of the entrance, struggling frenetically to come up with an angle where the entire structure will fit within their smartphone’s screen.
For me, the Turning Torso serves as a consummate reminder, a mnemonic device to keep me bold and daring – and not wait around for things to happen on their own. For an artist, nothing could be more creatively catastrophic than slipping into the role of the passive bystander. Only when I act will there ever be a reaction.
I’ve had a long and amazing relationship with Turing Torso. In late 2014, I was commissioned by HSB Malmö, the cooperative that owns and operates the mostly residential building to produce a coffee table/interview book that would commemorate the 10 year anniversary.
But already back in 1999, just a year or so after moving from Göteborg to Malmö – and way before the skyscraper’s construction began – HSB hired me to shoot footage from several heights of Turning Torso while sitting in a harness of a helicopter.
The transformation that Malmö has gone through over the past two decades is remarkable and certainly noteworthy. Yes, there is still a lot of stuff that needs attention, including the devistatingly high crime rate, thoughtless and therefore mostly unsuccessful attempts at integrating immigrants into society and arguably one of the country’s worst inner-city traffic situations.
But not entirely unlike New Yorkers who live in a city that’s had to redefine itself time and time again, most folks in Malmö feel unapologetically proud of their city. In last week’s interview with a French TV team, I mentioned that it takes time for Malmöites to embrace change. But once they do, it’s nothing less than a love affair with no end.
Speaking of skiing… I’m currently thinking of heading down (and then up) to Zermatt – my favorite alp village bar none – in a few weeks. Though by no means as easy to get to as Chamonix Zermatt has quite a few other benefits that I think by far out-way the logistical demands. And if you’re lucky, the train ride’s last hour, when it makes its ascend to Zermatt, is spectacularly beautiful.
The village itself is quaint, cozy and quiet as only electric mini-buses are allowed on the streets. Especially gorgeous are the ancient buildings know as “Hinterdorf” (rear village) with 30 or so traditionally constructed wooden barns and stables from the 16th and 18th centuries.
The slopes below the majestic Matterhorn are as one might expect in Switzerland, well-maintained and, more importantly, the mountains surrounding Zermatt with Monte Rosa being the highest, offer an almost infinite amount of off-piste options.
Now, given this isn’t exactly a budget-friendly destination. Zermatt is tucked away way up at 1600 meters, so you’ll unavoidably be paying more for the secluded location itself, and it’s still considered one of the alp’s most exclusive ski resorts. Not as exclusive as, say, Gstaad, but not far off. Still, I wouldn’t say that Zermatt is ridiculously expensive. Fact is, I’ve eaten, of all things, a few sushi meals there which were both well-made and reasonably priced.
It’s about this time of year when I start remembering what it was like to take the train or fly up to Lapland and start a new ski season at Hotel Riksgränsen.
As the train from Kiruna would pull away from the very last stop before the route’s final destination in Narvik (Norway), an almost eery silence would ensue. Only the muted sound of snow being compressed under my boots could be heard as I walked towards the hotel from the station. As soon as I passed under the railway tunnel, I’d turn left towards the small cluster of staff houses spread out at the foot of the mountain – one of which would be my home for the better part of the next five months.
This is the train station in Chamonix from last year’s visit for www.airlinestaffrates.com
However you slice it, the selfie culture is a global phenomena that doesn’t seem to be waning any time soon. As a photographer, I’ve always felt compelled to help folks I meet on the street to capture their epic vacation scene.
That doesn’t happen nearly as often today as most selfie people seem to prefer awkward angles and perspectives that distort. I’ve actually been turned down a few times when trying to be a good Samaritan. But thanks to the invention of the selfie stick, things may have gotten a little better.
Shot the above image a little more than a week ago on a street in Singapore.
Woke up this morning at a hotel in Copenhagen in a beautiful winter wonderland. And when we arrived this afternoon at Malmö Central Station, even more snow had fallen. I hope we get more. Much more.
I shot this yesterday while shooting still images for one my clients latest properties here in Malmö. For January, the weather conditions couldn’t have been better. That said, I almost froze my fingers off while piloting the drone. Sounds strange coming from me, but I actually would like to see some snow now…a lot of snow.
Back in town again after a few days of informal research in Singapore for a client. Had a very smooth ride back to Copenhagen via Helsinki with Finnair. After a few hours on the plane and at the Finnish airport, I almost overdosed on Marimekko designed napkins, pillowcases, toiletries bags and blankets.
Brought the new Fuji XT-3 and a couple of prime lenses (equivalent of a 24mm + 85mm) with me on the trip to see how well this new kit holds up in the weight vs quality arena. After about 8 months with the technically very capable A7III, I felt Sony’s operating system made it ridiculously difficult to execute creative ideas spontaneously. Couldn’t complain in regards to quality, but I think the camera has way too many options, customizable buttons and umpteen features that I never, ever used and which just got in the way or generated confusion.
Not only does the Fujifilm XT-3 offer a pleasing retro look and feel with lockable knobs and dials, it more importantly – and unlike the Sony – bestows me with an urge and therefore a creative incentive to actually pick up the camera and creative photographs.
The shot above is from last week’s short visit to Gardens by the Bay in Singapore.
Shot these blue flowers and several other colorful bouquets at sidewalk florist on Beach Road the other day.
As a long-time admirer of artist Georgia O’Keeffe and her beautiful abstract, flower inspired paintings and drawings, I love looking at and photographing flowers from an abstract perspective.