A weekend in Stockholm

On my way to Stockholm for the weekend. To capture a few frames of the capital’s gorgeous architecture and textures. And to see a few old friends. Taking the train. Nothing beats a train ride through Sweden’s lush summer landscape.


Pacific Coast Highway

Venice Pier Surfer Dude

Black Beach Bike Blues

Running on Jet Fuel

Contrasts. I live for them. Thought about contrasts during this morning’s super-early, jet lag induced jog around Malmö, Just a few days ago, I was running between the piers. The morning’s weather was spectacular with a temperature not too different from what I had been getting used to in Venice Beach. I didn’t see a single homeless person this morning, though. Then again it was early.


I tried hard to eat well while in California. It certainly ain’t easy. There’s just so much good tasting food to be enjoyed everywhere. On two occasions, I had one of these bagel platters they serve at Cow’s End. A breakfast with that kind of massive calorie intake meant I could skip lunch without feeling any loss of energy. Have yet to find a place that makes bagels in Sweden.


Topsy Turvy

Ten days in Los Angeles – primarily Venice Beach – is food for the soul. For mine, anyway. I’ve met family, spent time with a few old friends and made some new, interesting acquaintances. Most importantly, there’s  been adequate time for well-needed introspection. On life in general and more specifically on what I should focus on creatively henceforth. What will propel and satisfy me into the next phase? Where will the next challenges come from?

Change is good. Challenges are better.

It’s soon time for new endeavors. Geographically and artistically. This is precisely what I’ve been contemplating/pondering whilst surfing, running or shooting under the California sun.

Through an unforeseen but nonetheless fortunate chain of events, I met a couple of inspiring fellows during morning coffee at Cow’s End; Larry, a photographer and visual artist and Roy, a short story film director and writer. I met both just after my arrival to L.A., which in itself made the trip worthwhile. Creatively speaking, that is.

Roy and I had actually met during last year’s visit. This time, he introduced me to Larry who had also just recently finished a book project about Vietnam and could fully relate to the creative void I’ve been experiencing following the publication of the book about Malmö Opera.

During a few walks along Venice Pier, Larry and I spoke at great length about this conundrum and other related topics and Larry gave me (perhaps inadvertently) the intellectual push I needed to pursue a relatively new path I’d been feeling somewhat anxious about.

The photo above is the Airbus 380 I flew with from LAX to Frankfurt. The ride over continental USA and then across the north Atlantic was extremely bumpy and sleep was sporadic at best.

Frankfurt is one of the most confusing airports I’ve ever had the displeasure of visiting. The often unclear and therefore misleading signage and lack of manned information stations almost caused me to miss my connecting flight to Copenhagen.

Okay, so I was tired after the turbulent eleven hour flight. But  never before have I had to pass through three different passport control stations during an hour long stopover!

Surprisingly, the security and checkin process at LAX was, if not exactly pleasant, than at least painlessly smooth.

The Tom Bradley Terminal at Los Angeles International Airport is hopefully going to be used as a benchmark when airports like JFK and Newark one day decide to modernize.

It’s going to be interesting to see how long this trip’s jet lag lasts…so far, it’s pretty much topsy turvy.


Tiffany Ballerina

From this morning’s ballerina themed shoot in Venice Canals and Venice Beach. Great working with a professional model like Tiffany Crystal. So little direction needed. And she was extremely confident and agile in her poses – in no small way thanks to 13 years of ballet experience.


Cow’s End

Like every morning these last three visits to Venice, I take in my morning coffee (two shots of Guatemalan espresso topped off with a few drops of organic coconut milk) at Cow’s End together with a group of locals – most of which have worked or still work in the film and/or entertainment industry.

I barely know everyone by name, but there is certainly no shortage of interesting and inspiring characters among them.

Enjoyed another 10k run this before coffee morning. It’s finally getting warmer and sunnier. Hope it stays that way until it’s time to head back to what I hear is an almost despicably but not unheard of cold and wet Scandinavian summer.


Surf Tacos

Almost a week of my visit has passed and I’m still a little jet-lagged. Wake up at 04:30 a.m. and work a little before stretching and pulling my body into the wet suit, quietly taking my board down the apartment building’s stairs, onto the beach and into the waves. This morning was spectacular and the first day so far that provided some sunshine.

Had a great meal yesterday evening. It’s hard to find really good Mexican-inspired food in Sweden. Malmö has a few places that offer a few decent dishes, but it’s mostly standard recipe stuff with none of that home made cooking vibe that you can expect at almost every food truck in L.A. As far as I know, the level of splendor and amazing variety available here is unsurpassed. Outside of Mexico, of course. Last night, I had what was arguably one of the top ten meals in this category at a unassuming poco bodega a few blocks inland in Manhattan Beach aptly called, Sion’s Mexican Restaurant. The Ahi-Ahi tuna tacos, shrimp tacos, guacamole, refried beans – all of it was just superb and made a big dent in my belly – and was the perfect fix for my week-long craving.


Pacific Noodle Soup

There something special about the Pacific Ocean here in Southern California. I hadn’t thought of it before this morning’s surf. But the cool temperature and mild but pronounced salinity makes it somehow comfortable and easy to spend a long time in the waves. Which is good when sets are far few between. Not like this morning when they just kept rollin’ in.

I’m keeping a fairly strict, healthy regime whilst here. Eating mostly raw, plant based food, surfing or running early in the morning. Drinking a double shot latte with coconut milk latte at Cow’s End and then a long bike ride up the coast to Santa Monica with some of all the camera gear I brought with me.
Today, I scouted along Lincoln and found a few new sites that I intend to include in my ongoing documentation of this eclectic thruway. Stopped by Whole Foods (Whole Amazon?) and thoroughly enjoyed slurping up their crazy-good ramen tempura soup pictured above.

Pier to Pier

This morning, I ran one of my all-time favorite 10k distances: along the coast between Santa Monica and Venice piers. The weather couldn’t of been better with about 20 degrees C and cloudy.

It’s “June Gloom” right now which means misty/foggy mornings that burns off towards the early afternoon and then sunny until the sun sets in the Pacific.


Vi är Malmö Opera

My New Book

After an unusually long gestation period, I can finally unveil what is arguably the most inspiring project I have ever worked on thus far: a new, 240 page coffee table book called, We are Malmö Opera. I’ve designed a site for the book as well with a slew of additional images (outtakes) and a condensed version of how the project began, a brief description of my workflow and a link to where you can order your copy/copies of the new book.


Time to Fly

Time to fly. Southern California is calling. Loudly.

It’s been close to a year since I last stood on a board or went for a run between the piers. An excursion to the Mojave desert could happen sometime during this visit. But I am primarily going to work on adding new visuals to www.santamonicaimages.com
What I think makes California so great aside from the sun and agreeable weather is the amazing geographical diversity you have within reasonable reach. In a single day, you could (theoretically) enjoy a morning surf in the Pacific Ocean, ski at lunch in the San Bernardino Mountains and watch the sun set from a sand dune deep in Death Valley. One day, maybe.

Up, up and away!

Shot this a few years ago somewhere over the Öresund strait – a part of southern Scandinavia where the North Atlantic and the Baltic Sea converge between Denmark and Sweden. It’s one those images I can’t honestly remember taking. Which isn’t that surprising, really, But I’m still going to keep it. It represents one of those moments in my life where I left my comfort zone (and the comfort of the Earth’s gravity) for new perspectives.


Getting rid of stuff

So much going on behind the scenes these days. Stuff I can’t share here or elsewhere right now. Soon, though. Very soon. A new book is about to be unveiled…

In the meantime, I’m spending a considerable amount of unbillable hours (days, really) figuratively wading through tens of thousands of images and video clips from more than a year of commercial production. Folks, I’m like a crazy person swinging a machete – thrashing, slashing and deleting my way back to a tangible, manageable state of storage.

Currently down to somewhere around 25 000 from an almost unfathomable 40 000 RAW images. I keep telling myself that no-one will ever, ever have that many photos worthy of saving or archiving. If not legally, I still feel obliged morally to keep a back-up of my current clients images and to a lesser degree, footage shot for them.
It really feels good to fill up the trash to about 100GB and then just empty that sucker. The sound you hear when you empty the trash (on a Mac) is genuinely satisfying. Feels so liberating to let go and relieve oneself from a bunch of accumulated stuff and then almost immediately realize just how easy it is to live with less. Speaking of which…
I’ve recently been to two of the region’s largest cameras stores without committing to anything worth mentioning. There’s just not anything out there that tickles my fancy right now and my current kit is still to be considered top-notch. At least for a Canon shooter. I’ve sold so much stuff that I feel almost an allergic reaction when I start thinking about buying anything new. That said, I’ve seen a few rumor sites talking about a new mirrorless, full frame camera from Canon…have to admit…it seems interesting…

Early Bird Run in Malmö

For whatever reason, I keep waking up ridiculously early. I don’t have an abundance of things going on, so it isn’t stress or anything negative. It’s probably a combo of age and season.

This morning I opened my eyes at 4 a.m. and about a half an hour later, I headed out for a long run along the quiet streets and parks of Malmö. A beautiful sunrise accompanied me and I made an effort to run where I assumed there would be extraordinary good morning light, aka “Blue Hour/Golden Hour”. I’ve figured out that by stopping once and a while during the course of an hour long run, I’m in effect introducing intervalls, which is supposed to be good for the ‘ol cardiovascular system.
On this particular morning, I listened to the commentary from Trump’s decision to abandoned the climate accord and the short and longterm repercussions this will have in the global political arena. The New York Times’ new podcast, “The Daily”, is just superb – as is Santa Monica based KCRW’s “To the Point”. Both offer inherantly liberal takes on the subject, but at least I’m getting some width geographically.
All the above shots were taken with iPhone 7+.

Skånes Magiska Rapsfält

Här kommer den. Rapsfilmen. Filmat både från under ett sportflygplan och utmed grusvägarna mellan jordbruken längs sydkusten. Har använt Canon-prylar och en Gopro till filmsekvenserna och förträffliga Zoom H6 till ljudet som jag spelade inte i källaren tidigare idag. Allt är klippt i Final Cut Pro X.


Rapsfält i Skåne

Skånes rapsfält. Hur vackra är dom inte så här års? Och doften, sen då? Ljuvlig. Jag har verkligen tagit fasta på det där man säger lite flyhänt att man skall stanna upp lite och lukta på blommorna. Känns sunt och livsbejakande. Är verkligen less på inomhustillvaron och all evinnerlig, oåterkallelig tid jag lägger framför skärmen.

Häromdagen filmade jag rapsfälten från ett litet sportflygplan med utgångspunkt från Sturup och sedan stora svep över Svedala och Trelleborg. Mäktigt att se fälten från ovan. Prunkande grönska och nästan blandande knallgula åkrar så långt ögat når. En liten gul film kommer snart. Nyfiken gul.


Arrival of Summer

As per usual, spring gave way to summer in the blink of an eye. So, while the tuna was being marinated for the evening’s Sriracha Fish Tacos, I headed out to capture a few moments. The social metamorphosis this country goes through once the heat is turned on is truly remarkable. All is forgotten over night and residual memories from the previous eight months of being pounded by rain, snow and gusty winds from every possible direction are just gone. Amazing.


Poke Bowl

Tonight Charlotte and I enjoyed something new at Hai – one Malmö’s two good Japanese restaurants. We ate a tasty Hawaiian dish called “Poke” /poʊˈkeɪ/ which according to Wikipedia is Hawaiian for “to section” or “to slice or cut”. Poke is a raw fish salad served as an appetizer in Hawaiian cuisine, and sometimes as an entree. Traditional forms are aku (an oily tuna) and he’e (octopus). We had the not-so-oily tuna which was basically cut into sashimi slices and placed together with other goodies on a bed of sushi rice. It’s a hyped dish here in Malmö but simple enough to make at home.

 


Riga

Tillbaka i Lettland igen och ett nytt besök hos Livonia Print som även trycker nya boken.

Landade sent i går eftermiddag och hann precis ut och hitta en schysst sylta innan jag däckade på jättelika konferenshotellet, Radisson Blu Latvia. Kallt som fan här. Snöade till och med tidigt i morse. Stort gym med hyfsat modern utrustning. Positivt överraskad av att det också fanns en boxningsäck och handskar. Förstår inte varför fler gym inte har det.

Åt en rejäl frukost innan jag åkte ut till tryckeriet där jag under några timmar kollade dom första arken med boksidor som kom ut från offsetmaskinen – en bjässe från Heidelberger Druckmaschinen AG. Allt jag såg såg bra ut och nu ser jag verkligen fram emot att få hålla i  den tryckta boken som anländer om några veckor, cirka åtta månader efter att jag påbörjade projektet.


En epok tar slut

Snart är galleriet tömd. Bara några få möbler och min arbetsstation är kvar. I studion är i stort sett allt sålt. Känns oerhört befriande. “Sista svepningen har inga fickor” som gamla grannen i Göteborg, Siw Swahnberg, brukade påminna mig om gång efter annan med tillägget, “Samla på minnen, inte prylar, Joakim”.

Gear Acquisition Syndrome eller, “G.A.S”

Som många fotografer, har jag samlat på mig sjukt mycket utrustning och rekvisita. Kan-va-bra-att-ha-prylar, typ. Det mesta är bortrensat nu och istället för tomhet, känner jag bara lättnad. Tyngdlöshet.

Även om det varit både roligt och stimulerande, tror jag det dröjer många år innan jag driver ett fotogalleri eller studio igen. En epok är slut och lämnat plats för en ny.
Bilden tog jag tidigare ikväll när jag körde hem från galleriet. Vid den här tiden nästa vecka, bör båda lokalerna vara helt tömda. Längtar redan.

Sthlm t/r

Tillbaka i soliga med fortfarande småkalla Skåne efter dygnslånga besöket i ett rejält kylslaget och småblåsigt Stockholm. Where is the spring? Bodde på relativt nya koncepthotellet  Generator (Torsgatan) där jag åt gott på Hilma tillsammans med redaktören/skribenten Christian von Essen. Hann med ytterligare ett kärt återseende när jag fikade på Clarion Sign med stjärnmäklaren och gamla barkollegan från Riksgränsen, Annika Östberg. Och fast jag inte träffat någon av dom på mer än ett år, var det ändå som igår.


Fashion Shoot Shots

Not too long ago, I shot over to Lithuania for a short shoot. As during last year’s fashion assignment in Vilnius, I once again opted to work with the always easy-going model Karolina Janickaite. And despite the extremely unsupportive weather conditions (rain, snow and then more rain followed by snow), within an hour’s time, we still got all the shots we needed. Karo’s wardrobe was designed by Erika Kiele for Second Me.


Malmö runt i morgonsol

Bortsett från en lite kaotisk inledning, har årets hittillsvarande projekt rullat på föredömligt bra.

Epitetet harmoniskt ligger nära till hands när jag skall beskriva sakernas tillstånd. Mycket tack vare att jag håller den fysiska hälsa i schack, tror jag. Den symbiotiska relationen mellan min kropp och mitt sinnestillstånd har aldrig varit tydligare för mig än just nu. Och fast en av mina inre röster bönade om att jag skulle få somna om när larmet ringde vid 05:05, lyssnade lyckligtvis kroppen till en helt annan stämma.

Dagens mil tog mig runt Dockan, Mellanhamnen, Universitetsholmen, Slottsparken och hem igen. En vacker morgonsol och senaste episoden av “The Talk Show” med John Gruber i  lurarna fick tiden att gå relativt fort.

Bokproduktionen går inom ett dygn in i en slags slutfas när underlaget skickas till tryckeriet via cyberrymden. Om en månad lite drygt kommer resultatet av mer än sex månaders arbete att lastas av från ett fartyg som seglat hit från Baltikum.

Skamligt

En liten vink till norska succéserien, SKAM som jag producerade för en mycket välkänd kund i transportbranschen i februari. Tyvärr blev reklamfilmen aldrig visad på bio på grund av intern oenighet om farbroderns ansiktsuttryck….go figure.


LIVING ROOM BAR

As promised, here comes a derivative and considerably sped up version of the slow motion Gin & Tonic video I produced for Clarion Hotel & Congress Malmö Live last month. While the lengthy version is literally hanging on the wall at the bar, this shorter version will likely be seen all over the “Internets”.


Skateboardbruden

Ända sedan jag plåtade Ploy, “Diesel Ballerina” i bilskrotkvarteren vid floden i Bangkok i december, har jag klurat på fler kontrastrika fototeman. Igår genomförde jag en av dom tillsammans med Tora Rosenkjaer. Tora och jag har jobbat ihop tidigare med både kommersiella uppdrag och ett par andra, mer fria projekt och hon är ung, energisk och bjuder alltid på sitt yttersta i studion. Så när jag föreslog ett bröllopstema med en twist, nappade hon direkt.

Hittade bröllopsklänningen på Amazon UK för bara 325:- och lite fraktkostnader. Handskarna köpte jag på ett av Bangkoks hysteriskt stora varuhus och longboarden är inköpt för 5-6 år sedan i Santa Monica. Fönen kom från Björn Axén‎.

Tennis Footage

This is some excerpts from a much longer version of a video I produced in February and March presenting a young and extremely talented tennis player by the name of Erik Carlsten. The goal – in the 8 minute version – was to showcase Erik’s forehand, backhand, serve and smash during a few realistically played games with his trainer, Dennis. The above isn’t outtakes, just a shorter version with some slow motion added more as an effect than anything else.

 

 


Running on Air

Running again. Second time this year. Nice to get out of the gym once and a while. This morning’s run started at 06:00 a.m. and lasted about an hour. I’m keeping track of pace, but more importantly, length and time. Tenacity is key to me. If I can run non-stop for an hour, I’m satisfied. That’s where my competitive goal is right now.

Today, I listened to round table commentary about Apple’s recent announcement of their commitment to professonal creatives and how they divulged tidbits about forthcoming Mac Pro and iMac (Pro) workstations. The show is called, Macbreak Weekly. Super nerdy stuff, folks.

I rarely listen to music when I work out at the gym or go for a run. There’s a tremendous pile of stuff on my plate right now, so I desperately need an injection of more or less intellectually stimulating distractions to keep my mind from imploding.

I’ve been exercising with Airpods, Apple’s new wireless earbuds for a few months now. Not having to deal with the knots, tangles and inescapable short circuit of either left, right or both buds, is liberating to say the least. And though I might look like a dork with two Oral-B toothbrush heads in my ears, I’m now at the stage where I can’t imagine life without wireless.

I took my Nike T-Lite XI Cross Trainers out for a spin today. After probably 25 years of wearing swoosh branded shoes, I can assert that they are among the lightest I’ve ever worn. Suspiciously light, even. And suspension isn’t bad, either. During most of my run it was raining and my only gripe with the new shoes is they provide literally no traction on wet pavement. On two occasions, I almost slipped into what would certainly have been a bad fall. Are there good falls, then? My last fall was in Zermatt, just below the Matterhorn. And that ended well. So, I suppose there are good falls. And great springs. Like this one is turning out to be…

Den perfekta man(nekängen)

Jag är lång, stabil och blänker fint i både solljus och hemmets belysning. Jag käftar aldrig emot och behåller mina åsikter för mig själv. Du kan alltid luta dig mot mig när du behöver och jag blir inte ledsen eller upprörd om du klämmer på mig då och då. Du kan ha mig framme vid middagar eller bara som sällskap när du känner dig ensam och behöver en tyst kompis vid din sida. Jag är okänslig för svordomar, schlagermusik och dåligt humör. Om du vill, kan du klä upp mig i finkläder, men ärligt talat trivs jag bäst naken. Vem gör inte det, egentligen? Det sägs att min bak är bland det fastaste som finns och även om jag saknar väsentlig anatomiska delar på framsidan, finns det ändå inget som hindrar att vi känner intimitet med varandra. Jag är lätt att tvätta och torka av. Och bäst av allt, om du tröttnar på mig, blir jag inte besviken eller deppig om du vill ställa ner mig i källaren eller i en garderob en tid. Vi ses när vi ses, tänker jag alltid. Jag blir din för 2500:-. Nyputsad och blank.


Book project with the Canon 35mm f1.4

I’m now six months into one of my career’s monumental book projects. So far, it’s been nothing short of an epic experience with pretty much equal measures of psychology, creativity and technology involved. Which, to a degree, has made it a balancing act. An equilibrium of rigorous scheduling, mental prepping and an unavoidable dash of planned improvisation. And though mostly well-planned, the process still feels organic. A healthy dose of, let’s see what happens, mentality.

I’ve met some extraordinary people and seen them do amazing things with their talents. I’ve listened to many a compelling story of passion, of love and of enchantment – on and off the stage. Having been born in Hollywood during the 1970s and worked on a few shows in the 1980s, eons before Reality-tv, youTube and the like, I’ve felt right at home from day one. Hm. In retrospect, I think the concept enticed me subconsciously thanks to the subject matter’s inherent seductiveness and its connection, albeit somewhat distant, with my childhood.

Now, lets get nerdy.

The vast majority of my portraits and probably 90% of all other interior and exterior shots were taken with the above lens (taken with an iPhone 7+). A formidable field of view coupled with light sensitivity that provides an astonishing amount of usefulness and tack sharp images from f1.4 all the way down to f22.

When used together with my full frame Canon EOS 5DS, the planned shots are phenomenal and the slightly improvised exposures are often still really, really good. It’s been a love affair between the two with no boundaries and only one solid commitment; to always be compatible and work hard not to disappoint.

I soon realized that my old 50mm/f1.4 is far too slow and certainly unreliable when the pressure was on. The 24-70mm/2.8 worked great outdoors, but sucked badly without strobes and even then, nowhere near as sharp as the 35mm/1.4. The exterior night shot I’m most happy with, was taken with the hefty, “Mr Holmes”, a thick, 100-400 mm (Mark II) f4.5 behemoth that when carried for too long, makes you want to amputate your arm.

The field of view offered by the 35mm is considered that which likens human vision the most. For years, I’ve disrespected 35mm as being a choice of mediocrity. Not wide enough for landscapes, but too wide for portraits. That is, until I tried one in a camera store in Asia over the Christmas holidays. The bokeh alone sold me and then when I saw how well it performed during low light conditions, I was addicted, hooked, bewitched. Now, in typical evangelistic manner, I can’t recommend the thirty-five enough. Fact is, I’m seriously considering getting rid of every other glas I own. Except Mr Holmes, that is.


Ljuset & Kockum Fritid

Klockan 05:58 varje måndag, onsdag och fredag står jag utanför Kockum Fritids entré och väntar på att bli insläppt. Några sömndruckna steg senare stapplar jag in gymet, drar mitt kort och börjar ett timlång pass med en intensiv intervallöpning på bandet. Jag brukar hinna med cirka 10 olika maskiner och lika många moment med fria vikter på mattan.

Första halvtimme är lite seg, men sen brukar det lossna ordentligt. Mot slutet av passet lackar svetten och pulsen är hög. När jag lämnar gymet är det som om en fläkt blåst bort all trötthet och gett plats till nya kreativa idéer, problemlösningar och en nästan lite jobbig entusiasm över dagens agenda. Och då har klockan precis slagit sju.

Skall villigt erkänna att det känns lättare att knata upp klockan 05:15 nu när det är ljust ute. Som i morse. Blåsigt värre, men ljust och klart. Ungefär som bilden ovan.


Gin & Tonic i Living Room Bar

I tisdags eftermiddag filmade jag till en ny videoinstallation som skall rulla några månader  på en av väggarna intill nyinvigde Living Room Bar på Clarion Hotel Malmö Live. Filmen visar sekvenser i framförallt super slow motion från när olika varianter på gin och tonic blandas. Ganska häftiga att den gamle “GT” fått en sån renässans. Minns inte när jag inte hade en turkosblå flaska Bombay Sapphire stående i kökets vinfack.

Anyway…på 25e våningens populära restaurang, Kitchen & Table, projiceras sedan hotellets invigning min kollagefilm, “Malmhattan” (med blandade vyer från Manhattan och Malmö) på väggen precis när man kliver ur hissen.

Kommer att lägga ut den nya filmen snart, måste bara sätta lämplig musik till den…

Bilden ovan med hotellets barchef, Noel Ekstrand, är från tisdagens filminspelning.