I always had a weak spot for the test strips from the darkroom. You know the ones you find under piles of boxes when you are cleaning the darkroom. Might be nostalgia, or the hint of process they somehow contain. I used to tape them up on the wall next to each other and watch them form new things together. Like an accidental collage.
I have started to feel that there is a pretty clear distinction between form and light. Experimenting with light is always fun and evolving but can sometimes get in the way of form, both in terms of actual form, physically, and in terms of representation. My old teacher in documentary photography at the university used to tell me focus less on composition and light and more on subject, or move on to fashion or advertising. (Hey kid, tell the story, don’t sell it!) Guess he might have had a point. At least in terms what suited me best.
From that I find it fun to take the light (so to speak) out of the picture and just do forms sometimes. Either as abstract sketching, or as just building a sculpture of whatever is in front of me. And sometimes just take a picture of that with my phone. Lets call it impromptu still life.
I love when you get a whole day in the darkroom. It happens less and less frequently. Coffee, a good playlist (today is a blue day ). Im about 300 prints into a new project all shot on film. The old Mamiya RZ, Tri-x and Ilford fibre paper. Its so soothing. Here are some random previews from my phone.
I have been working a lot in the last couple of years with the perfume brand Vilhelm Parfumerie. It was founded a couple of years ago by Jan Ahlgren in New York. It’s always so much fun to help with a brand from the start. Especially when it comes with a lot of freedom of creation. And the thing with perfume in particular is that it’s been done in such a similar way for so long, at least it feels that way. More of that later.
For these images we worked with the very talented Stockholm based ballerina Frida Hambraeus. And in keeping with brand spirit I collaged some as well. Hair and make up by Philip Fohlin at LinkDetails.
So. I somehow found my way back here again. Not sure what will come of it. But its nice to have a place to test ideas I suppose. And it has an appealing circularity to it. I mean, in the last two years travelling has been less frequent because of covid. That in itself comes with both pros and cons. One of the pros being that I have spent way more time in the darkroom than usual. Maybe going back there is why it feels good to back to this format as well. Anyway. Here are some cut up prints from the last trip to Paris, back in November.
Shot some soft leather bags for Details Magazine with darling set designer Johan Svenson.
A couple of images I did for dear friend Little Liffner earlier this autumn.
Carin Rodebjer, who is one of the most talented and interesting designers to come out of sweden, made the 2014 collection a hommage to Rita Mae Brown and her novel Rubyfruit Jungle. Here is a series of images we recently did inspired by the theme. They will be sold later this autumn and the profit will be donated to an organization that helps prevent female circumcision and female genital mutilation. Ill keep you posted on where they will be sold and exactly which organisation it will go to.
It has been a very intense start of the autumn. This week is finally a bit slower. Going to New York on Thursday. That got me thinking on what books to bring for the flight*, which in turn got me thinking on what I have read lately. So, here is a recap so that we have something to talk about if we meet somewhere**:
Douglas Coupland Worst person ever
John Ajvide Lindqvist Himmelstrand
Kem Nunn Dogs of winter
Kem Nunn Tapping the source
Kem Nunn Pomona Queen
Peter Cameron Someday this pain will be useful for you
Bill Clegg Portrait of the addict as a young man
Nic Pizzolatto Galveston
Dennis Cooper Period
Douglas Coupland Player one
Chuck Palahniuk Doomed
Alan Benett Smut
G.A Cohen Why not socialism
Erika Vallin Eunomia (yay!)
William Blake Songs of innocence and experience
Dave Eggers The circle
Jay Jennings Carry the rock
Daniel Woodrell The death of sweet mister
Daniel Woodrell Give us a kiss
Jeanette Winterson Oranges are not the only fruit
Jeanette Winterson The power book
Jeanette Winterson Why be happy when you could be normal
Rebecka Solnit A field guide to getting lost
Margareth Atwood Surfacing
Margareth Atwood Oryx & Crake
Margareth Atwood The year of the flood
Margareth Atwood MaddAddam
Margareth Atwood The handmaids tale
Ursula K. Le Guin A wizard of Earthsea
Ursula K. Le Guin The tombs of Atuan
Ursula K. Le Guin The farthest shore
Kristin Lundell Busskungen
Lev Grossman The magicians land
Thomas Ligotti Songs of a dead dreamer / Noctuary / Teatro Grottesco
David Peace 1974
Buzz Bissinger After Friday night lights
Orson Scott Card The gate thief
Orson Scott Card Speaker for the dead
Orson Scott Card Xenocide
Orson Scott Card The lost gate
Max Frei The Stranger series
Neil Gaiman The Ocean at the end of the lane
Terry Pratchett & Stephen Baxter The long war
Philip K Dick The Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch
Allan C Weissberger In search of captain zero
*Right now Im reading Not that kind of girl by fab writer/director/epic person Lena Dunham and Im really looking forward to reading The most dangerous book. The battle for James Joyce´s Ulysses by Kevin Birmingham which is on my bedroom table.
**These are all books that I liked
This has by far been the most healthy summer I have ever had. No drinking, no meat, no wheat and a lot of exercise up in the mountains. Hiking, running, walking. Feels amazing. And much needed since this season has started with a lot of productions. Awesome!
I tend to read a lot. It comes with traveling I guess. Lately I have been reading a lot of Margaret Atwood. It started with Surfacing, which is brilliant, and has led to her trilogy Oryx & Crake, The year of the flood, and Maddadam, which I am reading right now. All her works that I have read so far asks a lot of questions about nature. And our relationship to nature.
I was thinking about that when I shot these last week. And on what nature could be without us.
There is so much to say about process. I have been thinking a lot lately. How things end up the way they do. And why. I think I have learned to control most parts of it, which is a necessity when working commercially. I guess a lot of it is about narrowing down, Start big, reduce.
A while ago I read a book about creativity. I generally tend to dislike books that oversimplify things. Take any self-help book you want as an example. However, it had a nice trail of thought:
When you have something you really should, or have to do. What do you do instead? If you allow yourself to let go for a minute. What happens.
Looking back a couple of years I sort of realized that a lot of projects that have grown or taken me places come from just that. Like a quick collage. Or doing a layout that just felt absurd at first. Im thinking about doing an exhibition or something with those things. A lot of it has already circled back of course. As a sketch for a new campaign or editorial or so.
Anyway. Here is one from today:
It actually started here, when revisiting an old shoot to get some material to sketch with:
So, my Polaroid 600 Se was stolen a while ago. If anybody has a nice one to sell let me know. I always had so much fun shooting with that thing.
I remember when I first started in this business. I asked a photographer I liked why he always took twenty polaroids of the same thing. He told me since he quit smoking it was the only thing he felt that he could do if he needed a couple of minutes to think things through on set. What would be the equivalent today I wonder. Pulling the tethering cable and restarting Capture One?
Did some collage-ish beauty with Johanna Sylvan and Philip Fohlin a while ago. Its funny, in periods I just want to shoot a lot. And sometimes this urge to take things further sets in. Collage, layout, typography. Even painting. Maybe its time to start something around that. A book, magazine, and exhibition?