One of the benefits of living in a relatively small city like Malmö, is that eventually you will find yourself somehow, someway connected to friends of friends, friends of business partners and friends of clients. Case in point: the star of the commercial I produced about two weeks ago for Nordic Choice latest property, Clarion Hotel & Congress Malmö Live, Kenneth “Ken Wegas” Wahlberg and I have now worked together on two additional projects. Most recently on the rooftop of the aforementioned hotel during an amazing sunset.
The freelancers universe is largely a mysterious place. Most of the territory is undiscovered and even seasoned voyagers will from time to time find themselves in the midst of the most extraordinary circumstances. That’s where I am right now. And so, in a few days, I will return to New York to work on a project for the Swedish Mission to the United Nations. The above picture has absolutely nothing to do with this post. I just think it’s pretty awesome.
From the surreal to the real. That’s one way of looking at it. Like all great cities I visit, there’s somewhat of a withdrawal once I get home. But unlike when I arrive in Malmö from, say, the extremely crowded Bangkok, returning from the busy but not nearly as densely populated New York City is far less dramatic. The transition just feels smoother, somehow.
I’ve stayed at about 30 different hotels on the island of Manhattan. This trip, I opted for a really new boutique hotel called, The Paul. The location was good, but even more importantly, the view from the hotel’s (unlocked and easily accessible) rooftop turned out to be absolutely fabulous. As an aficionado of just about all things New York, I’m always on the lookout for new vantage points where I can capture “behind the scene” views of the city. The Paul also offered a decent view of the Empire State Building on it’s front side.
Back in New York. Third time this year. In March it snowed. In May it was sunny but cool. Now, in September, it’s hot and sticky. Tropical, almost.
Thoroughly enjoyed an early morning film session along the Highline yesterday. And in the afternoon, I spent a few hours on Roosevelt Island. It seems as if I can’t get enough of that tram ride.
The Bengtsson Sisters invited me to a picnic later in the afternoon at lush Riverside Park where I met a bunch of friendly folk. Days like these are always long. But nowhere do I feel so creatively infused and cerebrally inspired. It must be all the interesting, high energy, individuals.
Tomorrow, I’ll be working at Sweden’s Permanent Mission to the United Nations. Never a dull moment in this town!
When you do what I do, it’s almost ridiculously hard to maintain equilibrium. I’m just too intrigued by my creative process to draw the line – to know when to call it a day. But the fact is, right now, I seem to have found just the right balance.
I’ve started training again and the subsequent endorphin boost I get after running 7k or more, is getting me through long hours of studio and location shooting.
It’s the end of yet another productive week with one TV commercial (TV4), a print folder, unveiling of my Turning Torso book and about a dozen or so other projects. Tomorrow, Charlotte and I are going to partake in the Midnight Run (10k) which starts about the same time as I usually head off to bed. Already looking forward to running next week while in New York for yet another gig. This time, at the Swedish Permanent Mission to the United Nations.
The picture above? Sami – the young son of Samer, my buddy and one of Malmö’s best chefs.
So today we celebrated the beautiful sculpture that evolved into an amazing skyscraper; Turning Torso. Delicious birthday cake, a great jazzband, a few speeches and ten daredevil base jumpers that descended from the roof, helped wow about 250 guests during the party.
Completed ten years ago today, the festivities, held right outside the Turning Torso’s main entrance, also celebrated the courage that HSB (the premiere cooperative housing association in Sweden) showed when they commissioned the Spanish architect, Santiago Calatrava, to design it and then have the boldness to actually finance building it.
In late spring, I was assigned by HSB to produce a coffee table book about Turning Torso. The book, simply/aptly titled, “Turning Torso”, was unveiled today and contains, aside from exterior and interior images, several interviews and “home visits” with some of Turning Torso’s residential and commercial tenants.
The spanking new book is available at Galleri Västra Hamnen in the Turning Torso Gallery, right next to Turning Torso itself.
I’m not entirely comfortable seeing one of my cameras fly out over the ocean, but thanks to my buddy, the skilful quadcopter pilot, Axel Pandolfi Elmi, I was pretty relaxed as I triggered the shots whilst looking through a pair of goggles.
Bought new runners the other day. And since they need to be tried and tested prior to next week’s Midnight Run here in Malmö, I put them to the test for a 11k run this morning. I’ve always had a preference for Nike (Pegasus) when it comes to runners and Adidas (Stan Smith) for sneakers.
This morning’s run went surprisingly smooth and the weather conditions couldn’t have been better. Malmö is an ideal city to run in with plenty of parks and beautiful scenery. And since my knees don’t like running up or down stairs or hills, I’m extra appreciative of the fact that the city is pretty much flat as a pancake.
Started a new, three month assignment for a client Friday. I’ll be shooting multiple sports activities with several models of various ages and shapes – one of which was a former competitive swimmer (seen above). I shot with a few different lenses and for a few of the trickier takes, I used some lighting support. Most of my favorites were captured with a 400 mm lens from across the pool where the model was standing or swimming.
I was way too young or ignorant to appreciate Elvis Presley while he lived. But I distinctly remember one of his devotees – a classmate (from Tennessee or Alabama) at Bancroft Junior High that had long, black sideburns, wore gem studded shirts with giant lapels and spoke with quite the twangy tongue.
When Elvis passed, I had already moved to Sweden and the distance likely made for a less dramatic impact than if I had still been living in L.A.
Aside from a few visits to Vegas, the closest I’ve ever been to “The King” was as recent as yesterday while filming two commercials for a client, the electric scooter company, Eloped. For one of the shoots, we hired an extraordinary fellow that brings Elvis back to life.
Swedish artist Kenneth “Ken Wegas” Wahlberg has nailed the mature and robust version of Elvis perfectly. He’s taller, fitter and fortunately, nowhere near as bloated as Elvis was during his final years.
Now, I won’t go as far as to say the resemblance between the two was eerily striking. But the similarities in charisma, coupled with the jet-black hair, thick sideburns, ever-so glittering jump suit (tailor-made according to Elvis’ own design) compensated far and beyond for all physical differences.
Before filming, Ken and I hit the studio for a superfast session – as seen above. He’ll also be showing up in at least two commercials that I’m producing within the next two weeks and come December, Mr Wahlberg is staring in a Christmas Show at Clarion Malmö Live here in Malmö. Info about Ken Wegas can be enjoyed here.
Basically, there are three main genres of photography: EDITORIAL (telling a story as objectively as possible = minimum of post production/enhancements), COMMERCIAL (suggesting a mood, selling a product or a service = lots of post production/alterations and enhancements) and FINE ART PHOTOGRAPHY (more or less anything goes).
My work takes me – not entirely unlike a creative nomad – between all of the above. My FINE ART work is becoming increasingly important to me. But measured in time, I often have to sacrifice my personal projects for the commercial (bread winning) work. Which is okay. For now.
However, I am aiming to spend more time with projects that offer more creative longevity and longer-lasting fulfilment. And I’m pretty sure this is a natural progression for most creative folk.
First off, you’re just so friggin’ excited and curious – almost childishly enthused about all the genres, sub-genres and any creative challenge that gets thrown your way. Obviously, this provides a ton of experience, but can also wear you down – both physically and creatively.
I’ll likely never be a war photographer, work in pornography or venture into the depths of oceanic photography. But I do hope to eventually find time to focus more on less. To spend weeks or maybe even months on a single project – or, why not a single image!
As part of a creative exercise, I had the opportunity to photograph one of Sweden’s best Triathlon athletes, Anna Eriksmo a few weeks ago. We really took our time during the shoot, finding the right light, the right angle and the best lens and so forth. I’ve since then gone slow whilst testing different approaches how to visualize the results of the project. The above image, ANNA E TAPESTRY, is just one of several that will eventually find its way into the gallery.
No summer is complete without a few visits to our favorite countryside café, Lillaro. The place is such a charm and decorated with just about anything imaginable. The food? Always great. Coffee? Freshly brewed, old school java – served in grandma’s porcelain cups and saucers. The smoked salmon open sandwich – seen in my film above – was amazing. Did I mention how friendly the couple that own Lillaro are? Well, they are. This place is the benchmark for all of our café visits. Lillaro Café & Musik are open on weekends throughout August.
I’m not much impressed by ponies. Sure, they’re cute. But the full grown Nordic beauties grazing on the meadow in front of us during the summer, get me to pull out my camera and take a few shots.
And with the help of a few organic carrots, this evening I managed to persuade both horses up from munching on the grass below into several interesting upright poses. This particular shot is titled, “The Skeptic”.
My buddy Samer and I spent an hour or so in the kitchen at Green the other day. While he cooked up his juicy sliders, I grabbed some footage with my iPhone. This could be the first of a series of food and music videos.
It’s been said about me that I’m extremely competitive. I can see how friends would think that. However, I think they’re confusing my competitive nature with my obsession to achieve my goals – regardless of who’s on the playing field.
Fact is, I don’t really like to compete with others. Partly because I really, really hate losing. And partly because I have a hard time focusing on my objectives if I also have to consider that other folks are simultaneously trying to reach those very same goals. Truth be told, I’m way too busy competing with myself to have to play the psych-war that inevitably takes place during almost every kind of contest.
Having said that, I still signed up for the annual Malmö Midnight Run on August 15th. For no other reason (consciously, anyway) than to compete with myself – and keep Charlotte company during the 10k jog around Malmö.
Finally summer. Two months late. Nevertheless welcome. Dinner by the sea last night. Then down by the bridge. Swedes are incredibly adaptable. As soon as the heat gets turned up, off with the clothes and on with the smiles – as if all is forgiven and forgotten. Most people go back to work this week. I haven’t had a traditional vacation in…actually, ever. Once in a while, I’ll ponder what it would be like to spend two or three weeks without a camera, a computer and the Internet. That hasn’t happened in probably 15 years. Interesting to see how long time it would take me to adjust.
About 85% of the footage from this video was shot on iPhone 6 using a handheld gyroscope stabilized steadycam. I’m still amazed at how creatively versatile and commercially usable mobile phones (at least higher end models) have become.
Reboot after a short summer vacation yesterday with a full day shoot for Eloped, the electric scooter company based here in Malmö that I’ve worked with for a few years. Half day in the studio with three models, six scooters and a gazillion angles. Above: Rolf the Mechanic.
Fifty two. A deck of cards. The B-52’s. The atomic number of Tellurium. 52 weeks in a year. The number of letters in the English alphabet.
Today’s birthday clearly signifies that I’ve got a pretty auspicious year ahead of me. Hopefully, it will also be one of the most creatively fulfilling and emotionally satisfying. Not that I really ever want or even expect to be completely satisfied with anything. That would probably be my demise. Stay hungry, as Steve Jobs so aptly put it.
I don’t make new year resolutions. But I will promise to try harder – during my fifty-third year – to focus on taking my life as an artist to a more spiritual level. Above all, I’m going to work harder than ever on choosing projects and setting goals that have long-term benefits for me and my family. Which means, I’ll be re-introducing the word “no” to my vernacular at an accelerated frequency. The vintage photo above was taking sometime during a voyage in my youth. I may have been 19 or 20 at the time and it was likely shot somewhere in the archipelago along the west coast of Sweden.
Just back from a full day in a warm and sunny Riga of Latvia. Primarily, I was there to oversee the results of the initial print run of a forthcoming book. Didn’t see much of the city, but what I did see, I found intriguing. Particularly the wide variety of architectural styles – spanning over several hundred years – including the more recent, dire, concrete post Soviet apartment blocks. In passing, I also got a glimpse of the controversial new public library, which, depending on your viewing angle, either looked like a gigantic cruise ship or an enormous parentheses. Either way, I can definitely understand why it has created a ruckus. Hope to return to Riga one day and explore more.
It’s not that often, but once in a while, Charlotte asks me to take her portrait – usually for one of her commercial travel sites. This one is for www.airlinestaffrates.com which is entirely dedicated to providing professionals in the airline industry with sweet deals on hotels.
Here’s a shorty I put together this afternoon. A week in Vejbystrand is good for the soul. At least when the weather is favorable. Which it was the first couple of days. Then this unfathomably insistent storm set in and kept us indoors for five days and nights – as if it was October. Today, the wind finally calmed down and the sun graced us with some warmth.
After an intense couple of weeks collecting visuals and impressions from first north east and then south east Asia, it was fantastic to find that it’s just about as warm (but thankfully, not nearly as humid) at home. Had an unusually long and strenuous flight from Bangkok via Oslo before finally landing late last evening at Copenhagen Airport. Slept 5 hours and woke rested and wide awake at 3:00 a.m. Got dressed, put together a camera kit and then rode my electric bike around Malmö to capture the day’s first rays of sun. What a contrast to Tokyo, Kyoto and Bangkok. So clean and tranquil. After my ride, Charlotte and I ran 7k and then went for a spine-chilling dip in the ocean. The rest of the day was spent backing up roughly 75 gigabytes of images and video clips from the trip. Ended the day with a couple of flights with buddy Axel, an amazing quadcopter pilot.
The first part of this timelapse is from our room at the W in Bangkok. The last scene is from the breakfast terrace on the 2nd floor of the hotel. This is truly a fabulous location. Particularly good for me as Canon’s HQ and Service Center is right next door. I’ve made use of my membership at Canon Professional Services for a well-needed cleaning of my 5DMK3 body and 24-70mm/100-400mm glass. Picking them up today at 1:00 p.m. a few hours before my shoot with model Pooky in Chinatown at 4:00 p.m.
Back in Bangkok. It’s been about a year since we left our apartment on Soi 24 – but no matter how long I’m a way from Bangkok, it feels like it’s yesterday. I’m just as at home here as in Malmö, Manhattan or Santa Monica. Realized that I’ve been coming to Bangkok fairly regularly since 1988 and know my way around most of downtown – especially along the east side of Chao Phraya – from Bang Rak to Banglampoo.
Staying for the first time at the über-chic and boutiquey W Bangkok where tonight, I ordered the supremely concocted and mighty fine-tasting, avocado and tuna wrap, pictured above.
This hotel epitomizes everything I love about visiting Bangkok; visually compelling (huge art installations wherever you look), a fabulous, ultra-wide angle cityscape from our comfy, amenity-rich, twenty-fourth floor room. Not to forget, one of the capital’s best breakfast offerings.
When it comes to culinary experiences, Bangkok is without a doubt, the uncrowned food capital of the world. It boggles the mind when I think of how many stationary and mobile restaurants there must be throughout this sprawling metropolis. Some restaurants have been around for a long, long time and becoming cultural institutions. Bangkok’s insatiable food frenzy perpetuates the demand and so, new eateries pop up across the city every week.
Speaking of institutions…
Just yesterday, together with two of Charlottes friends, Susanne and Marie, I enjoyed a perfectly prepared truffle risotto at the aptly named and long-running restaurant, Eat Me – located in Saladeng, somewhere between Sathhorn and Silom Road. Haven’t been there in about a decade and was happy to see they’re still doing very well. The place was absolutely packed last night and apparently, business has been good since they opened 17 years ago.
Disappointingly, I discovered today that Elle’s and my favorite coconut ice cream shop at Chatuchak was no longer there. Fortunately, the sushi place at Siam Paragon had survived and Charlotte and I ate a huge lunch there with a couple of cold Changs.
Photo shoot near Chinatown with my favorite model Pooky on Tuesday afternoon. Cooked up a great theme. Hopefully, Canon will return my camera and lens after a well-needed cleaning by tomorrow evening.
Been a few days in Kyoto which is obviously much smaller than Tokyo with its population of 13.5 million. Even with “only” 1,5 million people, Kyoto still feels pretty sizable. So far, I’ve seen just a few of the thousands of temples that can be found here. Mostly on the hills surrounding the city.
Staying in the old part of town, called Gion, where hundreds of buildings are over four centuries old. In this part of town, you’ll see plenty of young female tourists dressed like geishas shuffling down the narrow streets and alleys in small sandals. There are dozens of shops in Gion that rent out traditional geisha garments and offer geisha makeup.
The streets here are lined with old wooden storefront houses – most of which have been converted into tiny restaurants that cater to the most affluent domestic and foreign tourists. It’s quaint and I suppose, historically interesting. A little too many tourists, though. Surprisingly many for China.
Three Kyoto favorites thus far; Paris Barber Shop (where I enjoyed an excellently close-cut shave today), the famous bamboo forest near the beautiful hills outside of town and the restaurant Chojiro where they serve scrumptious sushi and soba noodles with golden, crispy tempura.
We opted to stay in Kyoto in a traditional Japanese guest house which turned out to be an unremarkable hotel with a half-assed Ryakon theme. It’s as if IKEA had created the hotel’s decor sometime in the mid 1980’s. Also, there’s a really unpleasant yet undefinable odor in the hallway on our floor – something I will definitely include in my review. The staff is friendly enough and the location is as good as it gets in old Kyoto. But after a couple of nights sleeping on the floor – on a thin mattress – in a room with rice paper walls and a family with small children next door, I am so ready to check into the W Bangkok on Saturday morning.
The eternal myth that Japan is an expensive destination is just that – a myth. I can’t think of a single meal, train ticket, subway pass, museum fee or anything else that I’ve paid for that cost significantly more here than in say, Stockholm, London or New York.
And what makes a visit to Japan an even better choice, is how straightforward domestic travel is. It probably hasn’t always been this easy for a foreigner to visit. But today, it’s a cinch. All signs are in both Japanese and English as are voice announcements in public spaces (subways, trains etc) and to top it all off, most of the younger population now speak good enough conversational English to help out when you get lost or need a push in the right direction.
Earlier today, we spoke with our daughter Elle whom is on the Mediterranean island nation of Malta attending a three week language course. Lots of fun in the sun for her. Must be great not having her parents around this trip…We, on the other hand, miss her like crazy.
Even if you don’t like the politician, which is understandable, given the nature of politics these days, it’s undeniable that Barack Obama is by far the most personable president in the history of the executive branch. Listen to this interview with podcaster Marc Maron and this special episode of his show, “What The Fuck” and then tell me (or, email me) that Mr Obama isn’t a decent, sensible guy and father with plenty of wisdom to share. Or, you can listen to this interview about Tricky Dick Nixon and learn about one of the dirtiest and most ruthless presidents ever to sit (and abuse) the Oval Office.
Another intense day shuffling around a few of Tokyo’s many districts. This place is intense! There’s so much stuff that catches my eye, things I just feel compelled to film or shoot. I’ve been using all kinds of camera gear, from all kinds of vantage points. The 5D offers the best quality but is far too heavy to lug around all day. The iPhone with my new electronic gimbal/stabilizer is ideal. It’s not exactly inconspicuous, but looks unprofessional enough for people to ignore me when I point it at them.
The truck drivers and fish mongers at Tsukiji Fish Market – the world’s largest seafood market – seemed impatient with all us visiting photographers during my visit there yesterday. And I completely understand them. I don’t see why were allowed in there in the first place – as our presence is not at all to their advantage. On the contrary, we’re really just in their way or in the way of their customers.
In a year or so, the market will be moving from this location and I don’t know whether or not they will allow visitors at the new address somewhere in the Toyosu district. So, if you’re heading to Tokyo soon, be sure not to miss a morning visit to Tsukiji Fish Market – and the outer market area where they sell all kinds of cooking stuff and have several small izakayas/restaurants. Ate a delicious sushi lunch at one of those tiny eateries after the visit yesterday. Seafood doesn’t get much fresher than what they serve there.
Tokyo is definitely a lot hotter and more crowded on the streets and underground than I remember it. Still nowhere near Bangkok’s insane traffic, humidity or smog.
Almost had a panic attack during yesterday morning’s rush hour along the JR Line. As polite and unobtrusive as the Japanese are, they have no problem pushing, packing and squeezing you into an already densely populated subway car.
Kappabashi Street is still one of my absolut favorite places in Tokyo. Dozens of small shops that sell professional cooking and restaurant gear in a very low key, very local neighborhood.
Took the boat there via the Sumida River from the lush Hama-rikyu Gardens (just a stones throw from the fish market) and forty-five minutes later, I arrived near the historic Asakusa temple area which is just a few blocks from Kappabashi.
Shibuya seems to be the new Harajuku. Or, at least the place to be seen wearing your new kit. Ate dinner at a small shop in Shibuya where you had to play a game on a table side touch screen just be able to order your food – which then arrived on a tray via one of two rails next to the booth. Great food. Here’s a few pics of the place.
Taking the Shinkansen tomorrow morning to Kyoto.
I’m writing this at approximately 2:45 a.m. (local Tokyo time) and I am suffering form a severe case of jet lag.
They have a business lounge at our hotel. One with a reasonably well-stacked, complimentary bar and a snacks buffet. It’s open from 5:00 pm-9:00pm – so, while Charlotte was in Roppongi checking out a couple of museums (and an exclusive grooming salon for dogs) yesterday evening, I sat comfortably on the 20th floor by a window in the lounge, taking time lapse sequences and long exposure stills all the while sipping alternately on an ice-filled glass with Four Roses bourbon and chilled one brimming with Sapporo beer.
I was interviewed by a local Tokyo tv channel yesterday at the Harajuku subway station. They asked me to react to several anime monsters they showed me on an iPad – none of which were particularly scary. The interview was over in about three minutes and I couldn’t help but feel a little sad for the crew to be sent out on such silly assignment.
I find it increasingly interesting why the Japanese are so fascinated with cartoons. Is it perhaps a counter reaction to the fact that society here is so strictly governed by social etiquette and tradition? That the cartoon characters help them regress to a less burdensome time in their lives, i.e. childhood?
Having said that, I wholeheartedly dig the Japanese sensibilities for aesthetics. Not just the minimalistic approach, either. Most everything just looks naturally balanced and visually pleasing. From the futuristic design of the superfast Shinkansen locomotive we saw yesterday at Tokyo Station to the beautiful presentation of the bento box dinner I ordered from rooms service last night. Nothing is left to chance and everything is given some thought.
Today: the fish market, the mega crossing and hopefully, a glimpse of Jiro.
Arrived yesterday morning at Narita International on a SAS plane that may possibly have been as old as I am. It’s been seven years since I was in Tokyo and those Japanese architects and engineers have been keeping busy. Tested both the new Skytrain and Tokyo Sky Tree yesterday – from which the above image was taken.
Ate amazing sushi for lunch just below Tokyo Sky Tree. Here, the chef adds the amount of wasabi directly to your maki rolls and nigiri pieces. I had forgotten about that – which explained the confused look on the waiters face when I asked where the wasabi was.
The very first time I had sushi, some thirty years ago, was in Göteborg at a restaurant called Mikado. I was a regular there when I lived in the city and after I moved, I’d pop in for lunch when I was in town. Apparently, they’re still around, albeit in new premises by the arena, Scandinavium. The sushi I had yesterday at a simple lunch restaurant – one of maybe three dozen places in a busy shoppingmall – was far better than any Japanese food I’ve ever eaten in Malmö.
Like many others, I fell in love with the radioactive monster, Godzilla when I was a kid. And though those Japanese sci-fi movies were dubbed with American voice actors and offered a minimum of Japanese cultural references, there was still something that intrigued me about Japan. I still don’t know what it is.
Love those Japanese electric toilets – and above all, their comfortably warm seats.
Still no trash cans to be found on the streets or at subway stations of Tokyo.
There seem to be more locals that speak better English than I recall.
Paid extra for a bigger room which is still ridiculously small compared with almost any decent hotel in Bangkok. But it’s still significantly larger than any room I’ve stayed at in Manhattan.
I really appreciate that Tokyoites are extremely polite. So considerate in fact, that they wear surgical mouth guards when they have a cold or aren’t feeling well.
Today. Yoyogi Park and rockabilly and dolls fans of Harajuku.
More of my photos from Tokyo here.
Friends often ask how work is. Well, these last few months have been absolutely fab. My clients have consistently provided me with a slew of creatively challenging but nonetheless amazing assignments – some of which have taking me to far away, yet familiar places; L.A., New York and Portugal. A spinoff gig from the contract work I’m doing for Nordic Choice Hotels, sent me off early one morning, not too long ago, to Råbylunds Gård – a beautiful old farm estate converted into a business community and conference center – located just outside of Lund, Sweden. The bright yellow rapeseed flowers were in full bloom and at least during part of that morning, the sky was as blue as the Swedish flag. It’s on mornings like that one that I realize just how great a job I have. I feel incredibly humble for the success I have enjoyed these last couple of years. Doing what I do, traveling near and far and meeting so many interesting people. What’s not to like about that?
Tired today. Huge gala party last night when the much anticipated Malmö Live was officially inaugurated. I’ve been working with Nordic Choice and Clarion Hotel & Congress Malmö Live for the past 10 months or so, and in a way, last night represented the crescendo of my efforts as three films that I had been commissioned to produce were premiered on small and large screens.