12/31/2009

Lessons

So I had prepared a blog post for today. I sat down an hour or so ago and wrote it down on a piece of paper using a pencil. It's new years eve 2009 and there I was writing with pencil and paper. I don't have to state the obvious but I will; it felt old school.

Then when I sat down in front of the computer I started typing something different instead. I was writing about the omnipresent compilations of list that states what was best or worst about the decade that is about to end.

Both manuscripts felt a bit contrived. So I decided to skip both.

The decade is coming to an end. 2010 is soon here. These last ten years I have gone from being a seventeen year old boy to a twentyseven year old boy. Hopefully I have learnt some good lessons whilst. And hopefully I will use those lessons whilst I go about creating my future.

One lesson that will become my new years resolution is simply to write my friends more often. Friendships need tending no matter how far the distance nor the time passed since last time we met.

I hope you've had a good 2009 and that you go about creating a better 2010!


And with that I wish you all a Happy New Year!

Now where is that glass of cava that needed my
attention?

12/18/2009

Test Drive

I've been playing around a bit with my new toy and I am quite pleased with it. It doesn't make any funny noises or anything. It almost feel gentle. It isn't often I feel gentle when I take photographs but maybe with this one I will. The shot is from a little walk around Gothenburg I had with a good friend of mine some weekends ago. We had just seen a vodou exhibition and I must say the dolls we saw there must have been used as inspiration by many a filmmaker. I vaguely remember something similar in i.e. Kaze no tani no Naushika by the amazing Miyazaki.We came upon Järntorget in Gothenburg. A place that is in many ways central for my experiences in Gothenburg. This time I saw the sky and the roof of this building was a pretty decent match. So I shot this pretty generic image. Apparently I need to figure out the double/triple/quadruple exposure function. Anyway, I think my new toy will be a good companion to me.

Good night!


Sorry for the absolutely raw scan here. I haven't done anything to it and I really
should clean the scanner before I do anything else.


12/17/2009

An End And A Beginning

So the day came. My internship at Fokus is over. It ends not with a bang but with a whimper as T.S Eliot wrote. But not really. To be honest, I'm kinda fond of what I've achieved during my internship there. I think I even managed to make some decent photos while I was at it. I know I also learned a lot from the people who work there. It is a fine gathering of minds and hearts in those small rooms at Wallingatan in Stockholm and I feel lucky to have had the opportunity to work with them. I also look forward to the opportunities that will arise in the future with them and every one else who is willing to throw some assignments my way. So today ends my life as a photo intern at Fokus. Now a new beginning, or soon anyway. I've got to go back for yet another month of school before I'm completely done. Then of to the far east I go. A new and challenging part of my life is about to start. Damn, soon I have to start make a living for real. No more student loans except for the one I immediately have to start repaying as soon schools out.

So back to the bang. Tomorrow, this years last issue of Fokus will come out and in it is a reportage on Christmas shows that I've shot. And for those who like to see even more photos from this slightly weird holiday tradition there will be some fifty photos on the website as well. So the last reportage for me this year will, at least quantitatively, be a bang. The quality of it, well that is up to you guys to decide.


I'll post a link here tomorrow.


Here is a cover and another picture from Fokus that I have not shown here yet.


Cecilia Malmström the new Swedish EU commisioner. Shot at
the press conference where she was named.



Another shot from the story about kids who society places under its "care".
Max Calner photographed in Örebro a few weeks back.

12/04/2009

One More Month In The Life And Adventures of Saab Automobiles

So they landed another thirty-one more days. Who knows what will happen but the clock is definitely ticking. For the people in Trollhättan it is probably more like a time-bomb than a clock though. I have so far heard that somewhere between 8-15 000 job opportunities are on the line if GM close down Saab. Or maybe not on the line but are actually lost might also be a correct interpretation. I'm not much in to numbers though (earlier this evening I was in favour of my own position on an issue, lets just say that I lost with the score 400 million against 2,5 to 6 billion, I leave it up to you to guess what the topic was).

These last few weeks have been quite hectic for me. I'm happy about it, because it has meant that I've gotten to to alot of fun stuff. I've been underground in some weird places. I've been back stage with a bunch of old artists, and I got to do the small story about Trollhättan during two hectic, interesting and funny days. Well, not to piss the fine people of Trollhättan of, the funny thing was not your situation but that I got to work with what I knew was a fine writer but who also turned out to be a great guy.

Thomas, I've allready started lobbying for more stories that we can do toghether!

So here are the tear sheets and obviously if you know Swedish you can read the story at Fokus not to mention that you can see plenty more images if you click the image on the top.






Sorry about that blank page. Ads have to go somewhere in the magazine but not neccesarily on my blog.

12/03/2009

Oh dear!

“Look, the photographs say, this is what it’s like. This is what war does. And that, that is what it does, to. War tears, rends. War rips open, eviscerates. War scorches. War dismembers. War ruins.”
S. Sontag,
Regarding the pains of others.







Then on the other hand Sontag also spoke about compassion fatigue amongst other problems surrounding the representation of violence and suffering. Another term for compassion fatigue might be odearism:




To be honest, Goya's etchings Los Desastres de la Guerra were made in the early 19th century and still they move me more than anything I've seen in today's media. To be honest, if I feel more looking at 2oo year old etchings of suffering than I do from looking at modern photo journalistic depictions of it. That either says something about me or about the modern representation of suffering. My biased guess is on the latter since I don't think it is that much wrong with me.

Taking a step away from my own egocentrical self for a bit. What does this call for? Can we do anything about it? My own opinion is that it calls for more subjectivy within the field of documentary photography. Firstly, Goya must have had to look at or imagine the horrors he depicted. After that he must have spent what I guess is quite some time sketching and later etching these drawings of intricate scenes of suffering. Neverthelss it was not at the push of a button nor was it any removed objective mind who created these images. It was someone who at length spent time dwelling on these horrors who must have created this.

Sometimes, when looking at moderns depictions of war, I feel a kind of kinship between Goya's
Los Desastres de la Guerra and Nachtwey's Inferno. Not only for the choice of subject nor for the artistry of its creators. However, just as the work of Goya points towards an extended time spent contemplating these horrors, such contemplation of misery is found in the compelation of horrors that is Nachtwey's Inferno. I have yet to sift through that book in one go. I hope I never will be able to.




A friend said to me earlier this evening that he doesn't often walk away from the content of this blog feeling happy. So this is something else...or on the other hand maybe not:



11/30/2009

Fever Ray

Fever Ray plays at Cirkus in Stockholm tomorrow. I'm not going to be there. Out of town on a job.

Here is the new Keep The Streets Empty For Me video. As usual when it comes to Fever Ray it's hauntingly beautiful:


11/29/2009

A brief pause in Gothenburg.

It's been a tranquil day today. Quite wonderful. Woke late, had chai and a foccacia with two friends, one old and one new. Now they have left and briefly been substituted by Göran who has come back to his flat for a brief pause in his hectic weekend. The sound from his shower, the water drops cascading against the shower curtain accompanies my writing.

Whilst Göran lets hot water splash over his body I'm at pause on his couch.
I'm reading an interview with Rebecca Solnit. Never really heard about her before but I'm thinking that I will start trying to get to know her.
In the interview she speaks about the political aspects of life. Her perspective is that these aspects are omnipresent. Everything we do is political in its foundation. It follows that all human life is political. Even the apolitical is a political position but rather a "dreary one", as she puts it.
I can agree with that.

Last night I attended a political happening. I attended this semi-legal club that my friends arrange. Deep House resonated through my body and soul. It was at first hard to get into it. I felt old and tired. But after a while I finally came around. For the people who organize these parties, I doubt that they consciously do it as a political thing; but political it is. In a country that has been hijacked by the debate on immigration and its ever present shadow, xenophobia, dancing and clubbing is political.
Together, side by side, bouncing into one another, sweating, touching, smiling, screaming and loving is the total opposite of the separatist agenda of certain individuals and groups. It becomes a pause from it all. Yet to pause doesn't mean to ignore. A pause can simple state I won't follow you there. Thus even the pause itself becomes political.*

I think I need more pauses in my life.



*Ok, so this particular pause, this club, might not be the perfect metaphor for a totally integrated society. Rather the opposite one might remark. The electronic club scene in Sweden, open minded as it is, is still quite a reservoir for quite a homogeneous group. Nevertheless coming together like this is still something that is fundamentally different and in opposition to the separatist agenda.


Another pause, another Rebekka. One of the best dawns this summer. A nice pause from the party.
I got to know Bekka that night at our house. A few weeks later she introduced me to the movie White
Nights and I rediscovered my fascination for dance. Since then Bekka has become a great friend.
Our conversations are ongoing.

11/27/2009

Understanding or ignoring power?

For those who know me know that one of my weaknesses is my tendency to speak to much, to often, and at times without thought. Sometimes I feel like photography can be quite similar. The meaning of an image, the end result, is often outside our grasp and thus most of the time ignored by us photographers. We might ask ourselves different questions: Will this image be understood at all? Does it point the reader towards what we try to say or show? Is it to easy or to hard to understand? Rarely do we ask what structures of power do this image promote? Do I as a photographer implicitly or explicitly advance a certain agenda through my work? I say most times because there are obviously a plenitude of photographers who struggle with what their images show and what they ultimately reveal of ourselves and the milieu we find ourselves in.

Nevertheless, it is not only us photographers who tend to be thoughtless or ignorant of what we say and what it really implies. That hidden meaning that so treacherously works against what we hope to achieve is ubiquitous. Asim Rafiqui so eloquently writes about it in his post Saying 'Fuck Off' In Muslim And Why I Say It So Often.



And from that notion to this: Congratulations
Niklas Larsson for winning Scanpix's Stora Fotopris! You're the man!





Max Calner has spent seven of his twentytwo years locked away in different instituitions. He was first taken into custody at the age of thirteen and the list of institutions he has since been transfered between is almost as diverse as his rapsheet. My conflicting emotions surrounding the double juxtapostions of child/victim and adult/perpetrator led me to the idea of this diptych. Max himself today thinks it was a good thing that he got taken into custody. He only wishes he was taken into care instead. As alway if you understand Swedish you can read the full story at Fokus

11/14/2009

Baconfever


Hjorthagen, Sweden on a tuesday.

I had a good week. Fokus came out with a cover I shot. The
images were ugly as hell but the idea was sound I think. Then
Dagens Industri's new monthly magazine Dimension came out
with a cover by me and my images that went with the 15 page story
about the situation in Latvia. The article written by Jenny Hedelin
is well worth the read if you get hold of a copy. But most of all I'm
quite happy above my photo of the vaccination que in Hjorthagen
.
Loving it!

11/10/2009

"Terroristic reasons."

This would be hilarious if it wouldn't be for the fact that overzealous officers seem to be everywhere these days. Last year I had an argument for 20 minutes with a guard over whether or not it was legal for me to take a photo of the back side of this billboard.


SAAB Aerotech, Arboga
Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, estimates that the world’s
collective military expenditures 2007 to 1339 billion US dollar. In Arboga in
central Sweden lies the head quarter for Saab Areotech which turns over 3 billion
SEK annually.


Ok, that incident took place outside an arms factory which is a protected area and thus forbidden to photograph but that area was behind me and clearly not being photographed. It was quite an idiotic conversation.





This one that took place in the US is even more idiotic (if the reasons stated are true) but we only need to go to the UK to get these types of restrictions. Isn't it amusing that our open and democratic societies are becoming so scared that even snapping photos in the metro, railway stations and such is now viewed as a suspicious activity because it can be for a
"terroristic reason".

11/06/2009

No one to blame

In Sweden we don't blame people. Apparently no one bears responsibility for things here. Maybe we need someone like this to stir up some action.

11/05/2009

Guns and pizza

I'm back on it now. Traveling the country with my 4x5 and I'm loving it. Needless to say I'm also scared shitless. Negatives? Trusting light meters? Not being able to see the outcome straight away? Am I stupid? Nope, just loving it! It such a delightful way of working. Coming to a location, pause for a while. Take a breath. Look around a bit confused. Another breath of air. Fresh air. Today it was even snowing. Find that thing you think is it. That spot, pile of dirt, cliff, track, bridge, window whatever it is. Walk towards where you think it's the best place to shoot it from and then look through whatever you have that will give you the impression of how it will look framed. Nod a few times. Keep that inner conversation going, that congratulates yourself for finding this nice shot. Then set up the tripod, mount the camera on it. Fold out the bellows and mount the lens. Pop the hood for the ground glass and look. Take a long thorough look, scratch your head again, sigh a bit then focus and realise that it's shit!

This is the delightful thing, now you get to think why it's shit. You just don't snap away. You actually have to think. Then you do whatever adjustments necessary to fix it. They might be major, such as going to another location, or they might just be minor like recomposing the shot a tad bit. And if you're doing this while it's snowing you'll get the added pleasure of freasing your fingers madly. And with large format photography there's a lot of nobs to be twisted and turned and you really want to feel your fingertips for that.

I just love it! It's the best thing ever. I'd turn my digital gear in anytime if it where not for that thing that is called money. I think that one shot of 4x5 here in Sweden will set you back aproximately €10 and then add another €6 per contact for every forth frame. So yeah, I get the digi thing in that regard.

Another really nice thing about jobs like the one I'm doing now is the lone time in the car. Ok, it really sucks from an CO2 perspective, but listening to public service radio (especially Swedish Radio P1) while driving around looking for the next spot is just bliss.

So what about the Guns and pizza thing? While I'm up here in the north shooting the final places for my latest assignment from Fokus I managed to sneak by one of the factories I still had to shoot for my story "Med ryggen mot kriget" (sorry the text is only in Swedish but if you want to see the English text just e-mail me or wait for me to put it up somewhere else....like my website that I'm never getting around to set up). So there I was again taking some long exposure shots of random shit close to an arms factory. Felt good. It felt good all the way back to the hotel and from there on to the pizza place. While deciding what pizza I should have I realized how ingrained in society arms manufacturing can become and to what degrees it can shape the local culture. There, right there on the cold yellow pages of the menu the final proof was, the pizza "Hägglunds".


And if you haven't already had a look at the magnificent job on the Swedish arms trade by the wonderful photographer Moa Karlberg accompanied by the journalist Christopher Holmbäck, well you just should.





Aimpoint, Malmö ©petter cohen
More than 500 000 redpoint sights produced by Aimpoint in Malmö are today
being used by the US military. The last order to them was for 163 000 new
units.

10/29/2009

Worth the time

Jörg Colberg runs the blog Conscientious. What does one actually say these days? Does he run it, write it or what? I write my own blog, but there are blogs that seem to be so much more than the not-so-very-thought-through-ramblings-of-my-own. Conscientious is one of those and as such is always well worth the read. This excerpt from Fred Ritchin is also well worth the read. And it's thanks to Jörg Colberg that I found it. So cheers and keep it coming!



Nyamko Sabuni, Swedish Minister for Integration and
Gender Equality
. Shot today to be included in a book
for the campaign
Alla olika Alla lika (All different, all
equal).

10/24/2009

It's all about the hair

Sometimes photography is just pure and simple love. I'm currently in the south of Sweden, hanging out with some friends. Thanks to an assignment that brought me here together with my view camera. It's not often I get to use it, especially not for an assignment for a magazine. But for this job I did. Pure and simple love!

In the south of Sweden things seems to be a bit different in general. For example my friends worry about their alcoholic neighbour. They're worry that he won't be alright now that he's lost his job. The main thing is that they don't worry about him causing troubles for them. They worry about their neighbour because he lives close to them. Because he is a person that they speak to and see on a regular basis. My neighbours in Stockholm, we don't really speak at all. Nod at most. So yeah, it seems to be tad bit different down here. More close together perhaps.



Cajsa in Malmö.

10/22/2009

This would be funny if it wasn't for reality

Rob Haggart is a photo editor or used to be or something though he still runs the blog A Photo Editor. Got this through it. Cheers for that and for the rest. Always good stuff to be found on his blog.


10/20/2009

Stupid stupid stupid!

So this comes via Lars who got it via Robban. Both of them are excellent photojournalists and Lars now also heads up one of the most exciting photo departments in Sweden, namely the one at Sydsvenskan.

Nevertheless this story must be the most stupid I've ever heard about. In Östersund in the north of Sweden the photo-company that delivers the school photos have during the last three years retouched photos of school children. Thus one girl with a mole every year gets a bunch of photos of herself without the mole. The girl in question that gets this quick 'beauty fix' is not a high school student. She's in bloody primary school! Only six years old and her looks aren't enough apparently. What type of knowledge does this little girl take away from all this. Hopefully it will not be that she isn't good enough as she is. That's my hope at least!

10/17/2009

The middle way

Saturday night and I'm working. Ok, so I've got a glass of left over white in my hand which is if not good so at least drinkable. My mates got a party to night which I'm sadly missing. Two reasons for that, the first is that I've got a dead-line on Monday and I've yet to read the article. I haven't got it yet. Thus I'm over-producing pictures since I don't really know how the text will turn out. Covering all possibilities so to speak. The second is that all my clothes are hanging on a clothes rack dripping water.

So all in all two crappy reasons to miss out a good party but reasons they are. I could have gone naked and I could settle for not covering all possibilities. Trying to be a good boy is not always the most fun option I guess. Anyways I'm glad I don't have to hang out down in the southern parts of Sweden covering our right-wing, or rather xenophobic, party and its congress. I know it's part of the job to cover unpleasant events but, damn, to cover a bunch of idiots is just idiotic. Well well, Sweden has tried to keep its xenophobic side under lid by hushing it all up. Don't really know what's more stupid, being a racist or trying to deny all those racist tendencies that are sadly prevalent in Sweden today? And to make matters worse, this idiotic party is tiny. It's on the whole rather negligible but they get enormous amount of media attention due to the logic that ignoring them as a strategy to defeat them has failed. Well, if two extremes are wrong maybe the middle way is the way to go. But what would that be?

I've got an idea, instead of treating this stupid party as the problem look at them as a symptom. They're a symptom of tendencies that exist within our society. Tendencies we do not dare to approach from a political perspective. Yes, racism exist here and have done so for a long time. Should we tolerate it? No! Hell NO! So what is the solution then? The racist would argue that we should keep 'us' and 'them' separate. A friend of mine argues that in societies whose composition aren't homogenic conflicts will occur more often than in homogenic societies, often over ethnic fault lines. I think he's partly right. I think that when people of different creeds and different background have to negotiate life together conflicts will be part of that life. But here's the catch. I don't perceive conflicts as something inherently bad or dangerous. They can be, but not out of necessity. I think conflicts drive progress and positively so if managed correctly. For those of you who have looked at conflict management and solutions academically or professionally, my distinctions here are neither academical nor formal.

So if you're afraid of conflicts (i.e. the Swedish society in a nutshell) keep everyone who's different from you far far away. Nevertheless, if you, as I, believe that society is an ever changing process that will stagnate and diminish if it isn't constantly challenged then we have to fight for the multi-cultural society as an idea. It is the only form, I think, compatible with the democratic ideals. Ok, so you IR nerds out there who disagree with me, I know you do. Nonetheless, lets get back to the conversation on how to build a better future society for all, instead of thinking of how to prevent bigots from getting their voices heard. No matter how much I hate As I said, out of conflict comes change. What that change will be that's up to us.





Donostia (San Sebastían), Spain. Two kids are playing tennis in a
frontón, the place for the basque sport Pelota. A Scottish sociologist
living in Donostía once told me that about 85 % of all graffiti in Euskal
Herrira (the Basque country) is political. Compare that to graffiti here
in Sweden, I wonder what the percentage would be here?

10/16/2009

My first Fokus cover

E-democracy and transparency equals square portraits?

This weeks story is about something a bit less tangible than bicycle nerds. Sweden has always been proud of it's transparency when it come to its government affairs. Basically everything that isn't classified as secret is public. So far so good. This way of affairs came about in the 18th century and is supposed to work as a power check. The citizens shall be able to hold the power accountable for its actions. The only way to do this is to know what they're doing. Thus transparency. The idea still stands but the technologies are new. And with new technologies new demands on our government arise. One new demand is that the information that is legally unrestricted and open should be handed over to the people in digital form. This is not something that is happening, yet. The law doesn't state in what form the open information is supposed to be handed over. The government say that the info can be handed over in digital form but cannot force its departments and ministries to do so. The rumor have it that refusing to hand over information in digital form is used in order obstruct inquests into public purchase. Thus rendering it hopelessly impossible to check any potential wrongdoings by public representatives.

So while the U.K and the USA is currently working on opening up their systems to the public Sweden is already there but the question is whether we are moving forward towards an even more open society or are we circumventing the open society? And is this happening now when the digital era has made it possible to actually process great amounts of data more easily thus rendering it possible for us to critically appraise those in power? The jury is still out.







This is how it looked in the magazine. I shot the photos and the eminent
Torbjörn Nilsson penned it all down.

10/12/2009

Photographers as thinkers?

Isn't this a bit of a conundrum? Photographers who think? Not really, to say that photographers don't think is to generalize which I'm allergic to but sadly quite good at. Nevertheless, I often hear things like "don't over-think it" or "stop thinking to much, just shoot". They are both good advices and both are in a way horrible. But yeah, what about the conundrum? If photographers think and avoid trying to generalize then the conundrum is that the photograph in itself tends generalize in and of itself. What to do? Asim Rafiqui writes about photographers going to war in a post on his blog some time ago. I just finished reading it and while I can't say that he surprises me terribly it is still a very interesting read.

Another thing I think about is why I don't know all that much about Rafiqui. He's been living in my native country for 9 years or so. As a photojournalist in Sweden I tend to be aware of and have some knowledge about many of my colleagues. But Asim Raifqui I find out about through american blogs? Why is that I wonder? Anyway, he got awarded the Aftermath Grant this year and is doing what I reckon is a really interesting project. Check out his blog to follow him and when you do don't forget to read and think!




A teaser for my final project at school that I did last year. It's time I start trying to find venues
to show it. So give me a holler if you're interested!

10/10/2009

Fixed gear...and shit.

I got this fun assignment for Fokus, it read "Shoot a bike story". So I did.









10/06/2009

Multimedia - not always good. But this is.

This is quite a good example of decent multimedia. No fuss. Video when it's needed, interviews that informs us and stills that show atmosphere and mood. Visual poems so to speak. I'm not too keen on classical b/w photojournalism that deals with issues of this kind normally, but in Trapped - Mental Illness in American Prisons Jenn Ackerman show me how this can be done using the modern way of multimedia. So old and new in a good mix. Great storytelling!

Btw, thanks Lars who is a constant source for photo stuff online. Keep it coming!


10/04/2009

Useless post

Ok, so this is a bit of a useless post. I've left Sweden for a few days. I'm on assignment which almost sounds a bit pretentious. Nonetheless, I'm not sure if I can post here what I'm doing and where I am, so I won't. Currently I'm tucked down in a hotel bed with the rain pounding against the window. Tomorrow will be a busy day. Lots of interviews booked and lots of photos that needs to get shot. Wish me luck, or maybe not. Once I did have a short career in theater and one of the things I learnt was never to wish anyone good luck. So don't, tomorrow I'll create my own!


Old picture, nevertheless the message is as valid today as it was whenever it
was created. Sofia, Bulgaria 2006. ©pettercohen


10/02/2009

Blogs as a mean to discover...something

Before I even intended writing this blog, I mean not this specific post but rather to start blogging, I read a lot of blogs. Not to do research on how to blog (isn't it pretty obvious that I'm not that great at it?). Rather because I genuinely like reading certain photography blogs, and other types of blogs (Tony Karon's Rootless Cosmopolitan is a good one but rarely updated). The ones I like the most are the ones that don't have to do with just one photographer. That is to say that I probably wouldn't read my own blog all that often. A Photo Editor is a blog I often get some really nice tips from. Check him out if you're interested in what's going on in the photo industry in that big country out west that always seem to be extremely contested. This video came to me through his blog. It seems quite amusing. Just one question though, Vinnie Jones in a film about art, WTF!?!




9/27/2009

Norway vs. Germany 1-0

Sunday nights are what they are. Nights on Sundays. No big revelation there. This particular Sunday I'm really hung over. Last night was the press photographers club's party here in Stockholm. Good fun and also a decent lecture by the Norwegian photographer Marie Sjosvold. Interesting mixture between videos and stills, documentary and fiction.

Tomorrow is a new day, new week. Last week was not as good as I would've wanted to be. Yeah, not a language error, last week I wasn't on top of my game. That needs to change. So tomorrow is a new day. Here's a new, well old, photo. Elias Åkesson is a talented artist and great guy. I'm waiting for him to release a new album with his band Elias & the Wizzkids. This shot was taken in the stairwell at Tacheles in Berlin a few years ago. He lived there and I was visiting with my then girlfriend Ida. I've been to Berlin twice, both times have been interesting but sort of chaotic. Kind of like the city itself. I'd love to go back there soon.

So we have Norway and Germany. Both countries have had an election in recent times. Germany today, Norway almost two weeks ago. Germany just decided to re-elect Angela Merkel, Norway decided to keep their social democratic government. I'm more happy about the Norwegians' choice of leadership than the Germans'. But who am I to pass judgment over their choices?


©petter cohen


9/23/2009

My life as a photographer is over.

At times when you look at the last job and you realize that you don't think one single frame is good, life just sucks! Today is one of those days. I know this sentiment doesn't last all that long but when I'm in this mood I just want to give my camera to charity and start waiting on tables again.



This photo is as blue as I feel. The guy on it isn't.
Göran Dahlström a.k.a. St. Göran is a great friend,
an amazing dj, wicked producer and he turned 25
earlier this year and his brother Jonas (also a sweet dj)
is turning 30 soon. Those two always cheers me up,
no matter if it's by putting on some sweet tunes or just
by being great guys. I'm looking forward to the party guys!

9/22/2009

"Bandits with planes and Moors"


Our history - Your future

No Saab, it is NOT my future! Or maybe it is but in that case I did not want it. Perhaps you did? Perhaps is it your quest for economic gains that has led you so far astray that you can claim that I, the person sitting in the seat next to me, and anyone else would want our future to be controlled and threatened from above by stealth bombers. In this you are mistaken. But perhaps you are right. Perhaps my or our future will be a future where the sky and therefore the earth will be dominated by unseen aircrafts that are designed to carry death and destruction in its bomb bay. Most likely these will be unmanned drones thus distancing the perpetrators from the act even further than today. No, that should not be my future. That shouldn't be anyones future. But if this is a future that will be, it is through your making.

Shame on you!


"And one morning all that was burning,
one morning the bonfires
leapt out of the earth
devouring human beings-
and from then on fire,
gunpowder from then on,
and from then on blood.
Bandits with planes and Moors,
bandits with finger-rings and duchesses,
bandits with black frairs spattering blessings
came through the sky to kill children
and the blood of children ran through the streets
without fuss, like children's blood."

extract from Pablo Neruda's I'm explaining a few things

Another day, another train.

So I'm back on a train going to the south of Sweden. Had some amazing days, had some good comments made about the GMO-job, and something even more fantastic things happening. I might let you know, we'll see about that though.

A friend called me a few weeks ago asking me to take some photos of him. Obviously I agreed. Can't really seem to turn down my friends when they come asking for favours. I'm definitely a believer of what goes around comes around. So come on now, come around! And you do, as I said I've had amazing feedback coming my way so I'm quite thrilled. Now if I could only find a way to get rich...



Yeah, this is Erik Augustin Palm, I think his business card says writer/graphic designer/creative
genius or something like that. He's a nice bloke who's about to move first to Spain and then on to
his favourite city San Fransisco to do some heavy freelancing. No need to say good luck to you.
Just keep up the good work!




9/19/2009

Should've, would've, could've

It's Saturday, I should've done plenty of things today but didn't. This means only one thing. I've got to do it tonight or tomorrow. And since I've got other things to do tomorrow I've got to do it tonight i.e. now.

I'm currently working my way through some shots for a friend and folk music artist Malin Foxdal. We spent a day and night up in our home town Falun and its surroundings to shoot some new images for her upcoming album. On it she'll be interpreting Gillian Welch's music in Swedish so check it out when it comes out. Obviously I'll post on it then. We went looking for the rural Sweden which isn't that hard in the region of Dalarna. And now I'm editing it all and I think it looks good. More to come on this issue later as I said.

So now I need to sit my ass down and keep on working those pics and also start planning for some interesting assignments for Fokus as well. It looks like I'm going down south next week for a small shoot in Malmö. Hopefully I'll be able to stay the night there to hook up with some friends as well.

Well, here are some more pages from the last few issues of Fokus:




The party leaders from the coalition government. From the left Fredrik Reinfeldt
(M), prime minister; Göran Hägglund (Kd), minister for health and social affairs;
Maud Olofsson (C), minister for enterprise and energy; and Jan Björklund (Fp),
minister for education.

The Swedish national scene a.k.a. Dramaten is trying to broaden their fan base. Probably
necessary if it wants an audience that is actually alive in a few years. Well, I guess it's not
that problematic but at least they're branching out.



This is how my first ever questionnaire turned out. Not the most exhilarating photo assign-
ment ever but definitely a challenge. Shoot portraits of people looking for a job at the un-
employment office. I wanted to do even more stylized portraits, get them in the exact same
spot. Well, that didn't work out so I started shooting them while being seated at the work-
stations instead. It turned out quite alright in print, I think. Not all pages are included here
but check out all photos at Fokus' website, click in the right hand corner where it says
bildspel.


9/18/2009

The genes are f-cking everywhere!

The last few weeks me and the fabulous journalist Emma Härdmark have been working on this small reportage about why Swedes are afraid of GMOs. To tell you the truth I really wanted to find out because I'm afraid of GMOs. Well, maybe not afraid of the things themselves but rather I've got this really suspicious feeling towards companies like Monsanto who are among the biggest proponents. Why do I have these feelings? Well, it might be connected to their past. I mean, how does their track record look like? Agent Orange is just one of the things they unleashed upon mankind.

So I'm quite negatively composed towards large corporations doing the things they want to do. And it often feels like they do it to us. Maybe it's just paranoia but hey come on, they're just too bloody big and powerful not to get suspicious about them. What are their ulterior motives? Why does Monsanto want to own the patents on the genes? To make money, obviously. Non-democratic organizations like Monsanto who today owns something like 90% of the total patents within GMO (which sounds awfully like a monopoly position to me). That is scary, no matter what they or their opponents say, I find that scary. What power are we allowing one corporation to have? A non-democratic organization whose only motive is to make more money for their shareholders.

Except from that, I'm also a bit scared of the consequences of GMO. Can we know what the final results will be with our toying with the natural world? We've done it in so many ways for such a long time though so I guess this is just another way for us fine folks to stick it to mother earth again. Nevertheless, it seems like GMO is here to stay, apparently it's really hard for example to find any soy product that isn't in some way genetically modified/manipulated. So I don't really know what to do or say but voice my concern/indifference.

Anyway here is how the story looked in the paper:











9/09/2009

Swine flu - whine flu.

Ok, to start with no disrespect to those who actually have got the new flu nor to the unfortunate ones who have died in it. But for me, the swine flu has turned into a whine flu. I've been a whiny shit today. I woke up this morning with a cough, sore throat, the snivels and so forth and thus decided to stay at home. Good choice on my part, not that I think I actually have got the swine flu but if I did it would be bad to be remembered as the intern who got the entire staff sick. Then of course the editorial staff of Fokus is fairly young so some of us are actually in that wonderful group of those most likely to die. Thus I could not only be remembered as the intern who got the editors and reporters sick but as the intern who got them killed. And who would want that on their conscience...not to speak of that diminishing the likelihood to get any future assignments.

So I stayed at home. But as a good intern I didn't stay idle in my bed. Instead I've been toiling away in front of the computer which could've been ok if not my computer also seem to have come down with a cold. It's as slow as I felt waking up this morning. I've even managed to clear some files from the hard drive but still not much seem to be happening. So now, instead of working away on the photos that needs to be delivered, I'm running through every bloody possibility to speed up my dear old companion.

Last fall I bought my first and only car so far. It was a lovely Lada from the last year of the Soviet union. I decided to give it all my love since I know crap about fixing cars. The idea was simple, name it, love it, sweat talk to it and so forth so it wouldn't break down. It worked. The car ran nicely during the entire fall. I did my final project for school with it, which was the reason to get the car in the first place, and did it really well. So being done with that I stopped giving Agniezka (which was the tender name I gave to my old Lada - don't ask me why it came to that name but it's all got something to do with the name of the model being just one letter short of Satmara, a rather foul word in Swedish, and from there on it got to Agniezka. My mind sometimes works in mysterious ways and I often try not to dig in the past afraid to find to many weird, stupid and worrisome and irrational thoughts) the TLC she deserved and she turned sour on me. One day she couldn't be started. So I came around to her this summer to give her what she had missed for almost half a year. The tender love and care I gave her paid off and she ran sweetly again. Thus I sold the bitch.

So what has this to do with my computer being slow? Well firstly I haven't given her a name. This will be my prio one. A name for the lady....and a name I found. Henceforth her name shall be Sofia. I've never had a girlfriend with that name, at least I think I never had one. Oh well, if it turns out that I did date that Sofia who I attended first to sixth grade with, sorry! No it's Sofia after that fairly dull east european capital. The rather boring city of Sofia, or София as it is known in its native Bulgarian, gave me a photo I really like. Therefore, the name of my old trustworthy (ok not so trustworthy for the time being) computer will be Sofia.

So here is some photos from my trip down to Bulgaria and beyond. These trips were the reason I first got into photojournalism and documentary photography. I love to travel and meet new people mainly because when I'm at home I seem to be a bit of a bore that have a hard time leaving my own neighborhood. But since I started photojournalism school I haven't been out traveling much. Or at least not much outside of Sweden. Well that's about to change I hope and soon I'm done with school and can go out into the world again. Lovely!





In an alley near by the women's market in central Sofia.

8/30/2009

Not so lazy Sunday

So this Sunday didn't turn out lazy which I'm quite glad about. I spent last night alternating between a Ridley Scott action movie on the telly and tweaking some photos for an album cover which is turns out to be so much fun. Since I'm not often doing these types of jobs but rather stick to the photojournalistic side of things, I rarely get to retouch images this way. Interesting, challenging and quite fun. A question though, will it turn into something problematic retouching and editing these types of images in this elaborate manner for jobs like this but not for others, will people mix the genres and will the line between the does and don'ts blur? Another question, do I really care?

Some months ago the debate popped up (yet again) when NY Times published some images taken by a fine arts photographer who had retouched and altered the images. Problematic due to NY Times image policy and obviously to some other issues as well. But for me this gets me to think of my own tiny dilemma - is it easy to jump between the different genres and the different rules that apply to them without putting my own photographic integrity in question (when such an integrity is necessary)? Ok, so now you could callously call out "But hey Petter, you don't have any integrity, so no worries there mate!" And maybe the worries are non, and maybe I don't have any integrity, and maybe this entire debate starts to really go on my nerves. Nevertheless, it seems to be ubiquitous. It keeps popping up from time to time. But wouldn't it also be quite interesting if the debate on what we photojournalists covers for stories was being voiced as ferociously as the debate on retouching. Because isn't this what will keep our profession alive and interesting in the time to come? In a time where the newspapers seem to cut down on everything and where it seems to be harder to finance any type of story unless Michael Jackson would rise from the dead - or maybe that wouldn't generate as much coverage as if he subsequently died/got killed yet again. Listen to this talk from Stephen Mayes, managing director for VII Photo Agency and who's served as Jury Secretary for the World Press Photo Award between 2004-2009, for some rather more insightful thoughts about photojournalism.

But yeah, this Sunday wasn't so lazy. Got to bed really late (or early) due to the exciting retouching I'm discovering. This morning I managed to get up early to go climbing, socializing and then to get some work done. Ok, so I'm at the latter stages now i.e. trying to get some work done. Nevertheless it was a good start to a good day. Hope to get more of these in the years to come.


Following images are from a story I did for Dagens Industri, the largest financial newspaper in Sweden, about some of the impoverished people in Latvia whose life are becoming increasingly desperate due to the economic crisis. What's special about Latvia in a Swedish context is the high level of Swedish involvement , especially our banks, that has been rather devastating for the Latvian people. The photos were taken in the countryside around Jelgava, Latvia in May this year. All images ©pettercohen/DI