Per Englund – Life In Sweden
We first noticed Per Englund because of his coolly obscure name [well at least to us]. Per – So snappy and to the point, much like his style of photography. And his last name, Englund, looks like England at first glance, but Per is actually Swedish. A random observation perhaps, but fittingly so, as Per loves shooting ‘random stuff – food, lovers, partners.’ He doesn’t usually plan much when he’s shooting. He likes to capture quick moments in snap-shots, keeping his technique and equipment simple – ‘flash off, flash on. Usually flash on.’
Per’s initial interest in photography was sparked “through graffiti-writing. My dad introduced me to photography at the age of 13 which enabled me to document my friends and the local scene in Gothenburg, where I grew up.” As for any formal study, “I did” he says, “but only for a year. I have mainly been assisting and traveling doing my own work.”
Living and working out of Stockholm, Sweden, the 29 year old takes photographs daily to fill the need. He is very restless, and photography gives him that out, to be creative, and to keep a diary of life for himself. Speaking of books and diaries, Per Englund has published a few, with his photos acting as art work and story aide.
The first of these, Life Geos On is a diary from Cape Town said to be one of the most beautiful cities in the world. Per spent several summers in South Africa, and much like writers, adventurers, artists and sailors before him, he observed life in the city. His collection of observations and memories depicts the post-apartheid city from a down and dirty street level. Englund points his camera on things that spark his interest, amusement or concern. Photos focus on the streets, urban landscapes, bars and hotel rooms, as Englund takes us on a personal journey through his eyes. Winner of Swedish Book Art Award in 09. It has been featured at viceland.com and reviewed in Huh Magazine, The PhotoBook, Tidningen Kulturen (Swedish), dagensbok.com (Swedish) and in Photonews # 3/10 (German).
In The Beautiful Struggle a second book, Per and co-author/Cape Town native, Mlamli Figlan, offer a brand new image of life in South Africa. In The Beautiful Struggle, the reader meets ordinary South African youths talking about their lives and dreams in the townships of Cape Town. Styles in fashion, dance and music are a way out of poverty. Tomorrowâ€™s global subcultures are born in the big cities of the Third world. The pictures are full of attitude and self-confidence. But life is a struggle in a society in which the apartheid structure still is evident. Work from this book is also featured inÂ Street World – Urban Culture from Five Continents From New York and Los Angeles, to the Brazilian mega-cities, South African townships, and Mumbai, the authors highlight cultural hotspots around the world â€“ in more than 100 topics and more than 1,000 colour photographs.
Per knows that, ‘as an artist or author you have to mean it, and your audience has to feel it.’ His consistency and honesty comes through in his shots, and is perhaps best portrayed due to the nature of his subjects. We believe in his stories, because they look and feel true. “I appreciate an image that haunts you and that you don’t fully understand. It could be something very simple that wasn’t or couldn’t be planned. An image that is well balanced but with some sort of imperfection or flaw in it. And sadness. Sadness is the key!” He doesn’t feel a need to kind of have to change the reality in a photo with crazy edits or any surreal elements. Life can sometimes, often times, be strange enough.
Currently, Per Englund is working on his latest book, Life In Sweden – The Complete Four Seasons, the images from which Per very generously sent our way. Have a look at work from his latest, plus some other selects from Per, as he shows us through his lens what it looks like to be ‘living the dream!’
Why do you shoot?
It’s fun and easy, and taking photographs on a daily basis is a need I’ve had for a long time. It’s my diary but also a feeling of creating order. I’m very restless, and photography gives me some sort of peace.
Compact cameras for personal work. Canon G-series since I went digital in 2005. I like the limitation of small cameras. I like to keep it simple. flash on, flash off. Mostly flash on.
What do you love shooting the most?
Random stuff. My food, my partners / lovers. Self portraits and still lifes. Fruit, flowers and subtitles in Swedish from the tv-series Cops. I like to take photographs at home and when I’m out at night. I do snapshots. I usually don’t plan much which is fine, becuase there is always at least one camera at reaching distance.
I loved them all!
Probably involving too much booze or the Swedish winter. Or very likely a combination of both.
Favorite shoot experience?
Most days are neither good nor bad shooting experiences. I just record my daily routines, no more no less. But when I “work” I feel joy in having other people involved. Skilled people. My art director friend from Museum Studio knows what’s up. Our co-labs are always something else!
What is your dream shoot?
I’m living the dream!
What is the perfect picture?
As an artist or author you have to mean it, and your audience has to feel it. If you manage to transmit that authenticity I believe you’re heading the right way. I don’t know what perfect is, but I appreciate an image that haunts you and that you don’t fully understand. It could be something very simple that wasn’t or couldn’t be planned. An image that is well balanced but with some sort of imperfection or flaw in it. And sadness. Sadness is the key!
What’s next for you?
Sleep I hope! I’m terribly jet-lagged after 10 intense days in New York! Work-wise I’m editing my next book called Life In Sweden -The Complete Four Seasons. (Dokument Press, 2011). I’ve been working on it everyday since I moved to Stockholm four years ago. I can’t wait to finish it and never look back! It’s going to be an amazing book though!