My first six years of formal education was at Saint Victor’s Catholic Elementary School on Holloway Drive (merely a few blocks below legendary music mecca, Tower Records on the Sunset Strip). All of my teachers were nuns and as stiff as the sticks they used to reprimand most kids with – if for no better reason than to infuse us with a little dose of holy pain. So much for turning the other cheek, right?
One of the church’s head priests, an elderly monsignor who’s name has faded out of memory (mine), passed away during the years I attended. At his funeral, his red and black robed corpse was placed in beautifully decorated, open casket by the alter for all to look at. To this day, his is the only dead body I have ever seen or, been physically close enough to actually touch. I mention this in passing as today, when the event I’ve been working on for a week will take place, I will be heading to the U.N. – just hours after Pope Francis has left that very building for a non-denominational prayer at the Freedom Tower.
From last night’s gorgeous view of Brooklyn’s shoreline as seen from the East River. I’m kinda liking the Financial District after all. Staying has it’s perks.
My very first visit to New York City was sometime in late summer of 1986. I was heading out to L.A. and what turned out to be a short stint in Hollywood. The South Street Seaport had recently opened and was extremely popular among the Wall Street crowd – particularly after the bell rang on Fridays. The busy and smelly Fulton Fish Market was still there (in 2005, it moved to the South Bronx) and I spent an intense weekend hanging out with a couple of friends – Andy and Todd – two New Yorkers whom I’d met during the summer of 1983 while traveling across Europe on trains.
I was twenty three years old when I stepped off the plane at JFK in Queens, and within just a few hours, I was completely absorbed by New York City. Ed Koch was still mayor, Keith Haring was on the verge of breaking out as the first superstar graffiti artist and cocaine, ganja and crack was offered to me (if I remember correctly, it was usually in that order) literally everywhere. For good or for worse, the city back then was ten times edgier than today. Having said that, I really enjoy working here now that I don’t have to worry too much about whipping out a large camera. And if I really want edgy, I just have to take a train uptown to 125th Street (Harlem) or just about anywhere but Williamsburg in Brooklyn.
I’m surrounded by towering, glass skyscrapers filled with hundreds – if not thousands – of offices.
As I write this, around 6:30 a.m. (New York time), most of the buildings are still unlit – but it can only be a matter of minutes before people start filing into entrances, riding elevators, slipping into office chairs and taking on the day’s routines and challenges.
If I press the right side of my face hard up against the hotel room’s window pane, I can actually see a slice of the East River.
Never stayed in the Financial District before. Not overly excited about this part of Manhattan. Battery Park is nice as is the walkway along the Hudson over on the west side. But considering all that’s going on in the city this week, it just seemed practical to stay here – at least for the next couple of days – while I commute to the United Nations north of here.
Almost time for a New York breakfast. It’s been about two weeks since my last one.
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.