Finding Your Own Voice

A couple of years ago, when I started to get into photography, I used to just grab my beloved Fujifilm X-Pro2 (mostly equipped with the XF35 f/2.0 lens) and hit the streets of Stockholm. Being a novice, and perhaps somewhat untainted by the social prestige that tend to make up different artistic fields, I felt I had an unrestrained freedom to pursue my own path within photography. I was on a mission to find my own voice, my unique expression.

At first, I tried to photograph everything at the same time: people, buildings, shadows, my pets, you name it. I was shooting in all the directions at once and didn’t feel I was going anywhere. I realized I had to focus on (unplanned but apt pun!) one thing at the time. So, I tried to shoot interesting shadows and patterns for a while, then I was getting into square monochromes, and so on. Getting into shooting people in the streets proved to be the hardest task – you have to overcome the fact that you aren’t just an invisible observer hiding behind the camera, but very much a participant in the situation. People will notice you, and most of them will be aware that you’re  photographing them. Luckily, most people don’t care. But there is a social stigma that you need to break in order to feel comfortable getting into those photographic situations.

Slowly, I started to see the city different. Perhaps you could say I had acquired the photographic eye. The photographic eye sees the environment in many dimensions at once, and not just physical, but emotional and philosophical dimensions too. Sometimes even metaphysical! But the seeing (and feeling) is just one part of the creative process, the key part is when you take the photo, or better put, when you make the photo. Taking a photo means you are framing the world in both time and space. The overwhelming part of time and space is discarded and only the moment you focus on is left. This is pure intent and is at the heart of every artistic process.

One of the things that made me get into street photography is the way it makes make me interact with the city. I really feel like a part of the city and the different beings that inhabit it. The city actually becomes a being in itself. So the subject is not really people, it’s the city. And the city has so many layers or dimensions. Every window opens up not just another world, but a dozens of new worlds. And these worlds interact and collapse into each other, making new dimensions.

Some of my “meditations” over the city and its many dimensions can be experienced at Styrelsen Bar & Bistro in Stockholm for at least another five weeks. I wrote more about the exhibition here.

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