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


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.


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.


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!


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?


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.


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!


Fixed gear...and shit.

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


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!


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


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!?!