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.