Where are you from and how did you get into street photography?
I grew up and live in Stockholm. I bought my first system camera in 2013, in the form of a Fujifilm X-E1. For the first year or so I shot mostly cityscapes. One year later I became a member of a photography club in Stockholm and noticed that my main interest was street photography. In 2015 I got the idea to take portrait photos of strangers on the streets of Stockholm, using a speedlight and a Rogue FlashBender. By this point I had upgraded to a Nikon D800E and an 85/1.8 lens. I immediately fell in love with street portrait photography, and I have been doing it on a regular basis since then. I also do classic street photography as often as I can.
How would you describe your street photography style? What do you hope to transmit with your images?
My photography style is centered around light and shadow, perhaps more than other photographers. When on a photo walk, I generally try to find dynamic light, rays of light with a large portion of the frame in deep shade. Upon finding a good place I will typically stand and wait for a person to walk into the light, but I will confess; I do not have the patience of other street photographers, I will typically move on after 15 minutes or so.
When it comes to my street portrait photography, I have always felt that good lighting is important. I guess my goal has always been to create a studio photography lighting look. Through the years I have experimented with many ways of lighting my models, although I now think that a normal speedlight in an 80 cm brolly softbox on an extension handle is the best all-round compact setup. When choosing which people to ask I feel that people that have a non-typical face and/or clothing styles. I want to create portrait photos with the most possible visual impact and appeal.
Are there any street photographers in particular that you draw inspiration from?
Honestly, I have never been interested in studying the various famous photographers and photography legends. I review tons of photos on Flickr, Instagram and in photography magazines. And I can find inspiration in many photos, often taken by other talented amateur photographers.
Tell me about your street portraits. I mean, you obviously talk to your subjects beforehand, but these are just random strangers you meet on the street right? How do you approach your subjects and create your portrait on the street?
I have a favorite street in Stockholm, where I like to stand. The street is partly pedestrian, so it is well suited for portrait photography. Also, this street is in an area of Stockholm that is popular among musicians, bohemians and hipsters, so there are always plenty of interesting and eccentric people to photograph. When I see a person I think will make a good subject I approach them and simply ask if I could take a few portrait photos. I usually explain what about their appearance that sparked my interest, and I always offer to send them the best photos.
When I started with street portrait photography, I used to write down their emails in a small notebook, along with a reference to one of the image filenames. However, this was too much of a hassle, so I soon printed business cards with my name and email-address and instead asked the models to send me an email along with a short description of their appearance. Of course, not all the people I ask feel comfortable having their photo taken, but I would approximate that around 70 % of the people I ask do in fact agree to have their photo taken. Most people enjoy the process and very much look forward to receiving the photos via email later.
Where is your favorite place to take photographs and why?
As I mentioned, for street portrait photography I have a favorite pedestrian street in the south side of central Stockholm. There are always plenty of interesting and eccentric people to photograph there.
For general street photography I would say that the Old Town area of Stockholm is my favorite. In part because the narrow streets create many good places to find cool light conditions for street photography. Outside of Sweden I would say that London is my favorite place for street photography, among the cities that I have visited.
What are the biggest challenges you’ve faced in street photography and how have you overcome them?
The biggest challenge I have faced in street photography is having the courage to take candid photos of people. I think any normal person would struggle with this aspect of street photography. For me, having done street portrait photography has helped me to overcome some of that fear, but I think it will always be a bit of a challenge for me.
What is your most memorable moment or photo from street photography?
Difficult to say, I guess one very fond memory is when I photographed the Stockholm Bicycle Tweed run in September of 2019. I met so many interesting people, all wearing vintage tweed clothing. The weather was perfect, and I took a lot of great portrait photos that day. I think it was on that day I decided to grow a mustache so that I would blend better with the tweed crowd during the following year’s tweed run. Alas, during 2020 and 2021 the event was canceled due to the Covid outbreak. I still have the mustache, so I am all ready to go if the tweed run will happen in 2022.
What has street photography taught you?
Street photography has taught me about the city I live in. Before photography, I didn’t know my way around town all that well, I wasn’t familiar with much of my city’s history or the people that live here. Street photography has made me appreciate Stockholm and I now feel fortunate to be able to live here. Also, photography in general has put me in contact with a lot of people, some of which are now good friends. On the Interweb you sometimes get the impression that there is a lot of malice between people in the photography community, what with all the bickering about photo gear and pointless discourse about who is a shill or who switched camera brands. My experience from real life, however, is that photographers are always very kind towards each other and more than willing to share tips on good photo locations, techniques etc.
Editor’s Note: To learn more about Andreas and see more of his work, be sure to visit his Flickr photostream. This photographer was selected from our Flickr group (Street Photography Magazine), where we regularly choose photographers’ work to be published in our magazine.