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.