I like portraits. I especially like to look at other photographers’ work – to be inspired, to let my mind drift away a bit, thinking about the person in the picture. What is their background? Their history? Their story?
Many of the people portraited here are in the public eye. Actors, TV-media-people, stage performers, authors and so on – in general individuals who are known to a lot of Swedes in some way. Many have not sought the limelight for themselves, it is simple a result, a by-product, of their line of work. My goal and challenge is to portrait them in new ways. I try to stay away from safe and pretty and instead look for natural and unpolished. I may try to show a mood in a person’s face that you seldom see, or put them in an environment that could help to tell a story about them. I know this is a very subjective viewpoint, but the kind of portrait I am striving to make is the kind that I like to look at myself. For me, this is not achievable with big crews, big sets or giant budgets. There is only the sitter and I.
But there is also another group of people here. These are non-public individuals that caught my interest. I met them on the street, at a farmers’ market, a car boot sale or they’re just selected friends. I cannot describe what’s prompted me to take these photographs – it is purely intuitive – it could be a colour, a face, an expression, symmetry, or a posture. But something wanted me to capture them.
As everyone knows a portrait of someone is merely a frozen moment. Consequently it does not necessarily present a true or full image of that person. So taking a portrait comes with a certain responsibility, not only to the sitter, but also to myself as the photographer. I am very conscious not to reflect the person in a dishonourable way.
The great Magnum photographer Martin Parr once said: “Photography is the simplest thing in the world, but it is incredibly complicated to make it really work.” After years trying to understand this game, I couldn’t agree more.
(Photograph by Janet Hall)