View Full Version : Sweden this summer

Kimberly Anderson
25-May-2010, 21:05
Hi all,

I'm flying to Sweden for 3 weeks of photography in July/August. I am planning on taking a Canham 4x10 in my LowePro backpack. I also want to take a Hasselblad and two lenses. I am planning on taking 5 holders for the 4x10, a box of unexposed film and some empty film boxes. I will take 20+ rolls of 120.

What I am wondering is if I ought to ship the whole package over there prior to flying. I have a very secure location to ship it to, and would definitely consider it if folks think that checking or even carrying on such a package would be trouble.

Last time I flew overseas to photograph I took my Nikon DSLR and lenses to Ireland in a backpack and carried it on. No problems there or back.

Any suggestions are welcome! Thanks!

Struan Gray
26-May-2010, 01:08
Swedish airports are no more or less likely to lose or damage your cases than any others. If your packing is adequate to protect your gear on domestic flights it should be adequate for a flight to Scandinavia. Accidents happen, and you'll be further from home if you need to jury-rig a solution, but in general there is nothing specific about Sweden to worry about.

Personally, I take lenses, ballheads and film in my hand baggage. Everything else I'm happy to ship, although complex or desirable small or medium format bodies I prefer to have with me too.

Film would by my biggest worry, if only because resupply of 4x10 will take up to a week. You definitely don't want to put it in your checked baggage (it'll get zapped by the baggage scanners). I happily put film through the hand baggage scanners, but if you don't want to you will have to ship it - it is very hard to impossible to avoid a scan of a sealed box at European airports these days, even if it does have a bright yellow label saying 'Kodak'.

If disaster strikes, the major towns (Stockholm, Gothenburg, Malmö) have hire shops, but they are mostly small and medium format digital now. Buying replacement 35 mm or V-series Hasselblad kit at short notice shouldn't be a problem there, but out of the three big cities you'll need to mail order. 4x10 is non-existent and even 8x10 very, very rare, so you should plan accordingly.

What sort of photography are you planning to do here?

26-May-2010, 02:07
4x10 is non-existent and even 8x10 very, very rare, so you should plan accordingly.

There is Foma (http://fomafoto.com/) in Norway - they can ship 8x10 and it arrives within a day or two in Norway: I might imagine that even to Sweden mail wouldn't take much longer?

Struan Gray
26-May-2010, 02:27
Most of the parcels I send are to/from the UK and Germany. Usually they take 2-3 working days, but occasionally, and without warning, they will take much longer. A week isn't unusual, and a couple of times it's been two weeks or more.

If I *need* something in a given timeframe I use the express post or a courier. If I want to use the cheaper regular parcel post I allow a week.

Steven Tribe
26-May-2010, 02:33
Photografica in Copenhagen still has boxes (25) of 8x10 HP5 and they have an online order system. I doubt whether there would be any delay by first class mail (maxi letter post) to anywhere in Sweden.

Kimberly Anderson
26-May-2010, 05:49
What sort of photography are you planning to do here?

Struan, you ask a magical question. I'm not quite sure if I can completely answer it.

In 1990 my father, a professor of animal science here in the US was in Sweden for six weeks traveling and doing research. I joined him there and we rented a Mercedes 190 and traveled up and down the country. Him visiting various horse farms, talking to ranchers, farmers and really anyone that wanted to 'shoot the bull' as we say. I was tagging along making photographs here and there as time would allow. He had spent time there as a missionary in the 1950's and had retained his fluency in Swedish. His entire family had immigrated from Älvdalen in the 1800's, and while serving in Sweden re-connected with many of his old relatives still living there. This started a resurgence of connectivity between the original Anderson family.

Here is what my father has written concerning this trip, and a few of his goals.


I awoke in the night with a realization that the main purpose for this trip is to more fully develop the history of Spjut Anders Svensson and Cherstin Olsdotter Family . We are doing this by getting to know the various branches of the Family - from America we bring the Spjut Swen Anderson side, and we are getting together with progeny from the Spjut Axel Andersson and Spjut Anders Andersson branches. I 'see' coming from this visit a record of Spjut Anders Swensson and Cherstin Olsdotter progeny with family group sheets and family histories in a 'big book' of Andersons. That so many of us are being able to make the trip has meaning and purpose, a way has been made for this to happen. Wouldn't it be neat if each of us had a family group sheet of our own branch from the Spjut Anders Svensson - Cherstin Olsdotter tree focusing on the child of Spjut Swen Olof Anderson - Erika Mathilda Peterson Björklund who is our ancestor. In addition we could have a family group sheet for our own family. Family histories for our 'Anderson' parent and for our own family would be wonderful to have to share with our Swedish relatives..

I have been translating the Bogg Family History written by Mona Sten. It has been a wonderful experience to not only learn about the Bogg family but also the life of Spjut Anders Svensson and Cherstin Olsdotter. You can get the Swedish version by going to bogghistory.blogspot.com and then selecting Boggsläktens historia. There you will see pictures of the Bogg family, Bogg Maria and Spjut Anders Andersson. If you can read Swedish you can understand the story - otherwise you will have to wait until I and Lena Bogg - Ekwall have finished the translation. There are 54 avsnits and I am just finishing the first 27, and Lena is doing the second 27. I would love to see a similar online version of 'our' history. Do I have a volunteer to write it or organize it and blog it?

I am excited about the trip and appreciate the efforts you have made to share this experience. Larry"

I see the photography that I will do while we are in Sweden as being a visual record of the places and history that make up our Swedish ancestry. There is probably no detailed record of the various places and locations that record photographically where it is we have come from in a way that will make our Swedish heritage 'real' to those of us here in the USA that will never go to Sweden. I wish to bring what I experienced in Sweden 20+ years ago and what I will see and experience there this summer back to America to share with my family here. Also to be able to share with those relatives who live in Sweden the impressions and feelings of what is important enough for a short-time visitor to commit to film.

We have a rich record of the people who are our ancestors from Sweden, but have a superficial and incomplete knowledge of what those places that we come from actually look like. I want to step beyond the traditional calendar photographs and record in a more intimate way those places that draw us back. There is some kind of a pull being exerted on us to try to discover who we are and where we came from. I hope to be able to find it, feel it and photograph it for those who will come after myself.

I also have a parallel project to photograph very simple straightforward portraits of our Swedish relatives with, of course, a Hasselblad camera. I did several portraits of the children from Sweden that visited us two years ago while traveling through the US. I will take prints back and give them as gifts when we visit them.

I looked at your website and see that very similar things motivate us to photograph. We will be in Lund on several occasions and it would be very nice to get together for lunch or a brief visit.

Thank you for asking that question. It helps solidify many of the things I have been pondering for the past few months regarding our trip there.

Kimberly Anderson
26-May-2010, 06:05
Photografica in Copenhagen still has boxes (25) of 8x10 HP5 and they have an online order system. I doubt whether there would be any delay by first class mail (maxi letter post) to anywhere in Sweden.

I'll remember that shop if I need some more film. I will be in Copenhagen for a couple of days and would know by then if I needed it. Problem is with 8x10...I have to cut it down...which is kind of a pain, but that's what I'm doing already, so I'm used to it.

Struan Gray
26-May-2010, 12:27

It sounds as if you have a fascinating summer ahead of you. I would love to meet up when you are in Lund. I don't have a darkroom set up for developing, but I can offer you the use of one at my work if you need somewhere to cut film. PM/email me when you know your schedule.

There are some good resources for photographs of villages and farms in the first half of the C20th. There are national photographic mapping surveys from the 30s onwards, but also commercial operations who would take aerial or roadside pictures of all the houses in a district and then sell prints or bound collections to local households. There's one collection from the 50s online here:


The local 'länsarkiv' or county archives hold extensive collections of photography from amateurs and photo studios, but little is online and I don't suppose you want to spend your time in a vault. They are however usually approachable and helpful, and positively encourage amateur genealogy, including among the descendants of emigrants.

Even in the forestry districts the Swedish landscape has seen many changes since the 50s. Some areas only got round to enacting enclosure reforms in the 1940s, and there are a few relict landscapes where C19th farming methods still survive. In general though rationalisation has been brutal, and in particular there has been a widespread loss of linear features like open ditches, hedges, and drove roads as well as inconveniences like localised wetlands. On the other hand, bronze age and neolithic features litter the landscape, and written records of landholdings and parish events are complete back to the reformation at least - so the potential is there to learn more than you ever wanted to know :-)

If you are looking for inspiration, Nanpa-style nature photography is big here, but not so much documentation of cultural landscapes or agrarian practice. Peter Gerdehag (http://www.petergerdehag.se/) is a photographer and filmmaker who has followed unintensified agriculture in middle-Sweden for many years, but he tends slightly too much to the nostalgic velvia-lyrical style for my taste. Jan Töve (www.jantove.com) is a nature photographer turned countryside anthropologist. His 'riverside' project is a breath of fresh air in an otherwise slightly stale landscape photography environment. Gerry Johansson is my favourite, somewhat Friedlanderish, documenter of the changes to Swedish towns that your father missed by emigrating (www.gerryjohansson.com, look under exhibitions for photos), while Lars Tunbjörk does a sort of Nordic Martin Parr scrutiny of how people behave now the thrill of building the post-war Sweden has worn off.

Good luck, and give me a buzz when you're around.


Steven Tribe
26-May-2010, 12:58
Nice to know this "back to roots" thing still happens. It is a falling activity in Denmark now - mostly because the descendents of Danish emigrants have lost the language now.

I can only speak for southern Sweden but the number of intact small holding farms still working as farms has fallen dramatically the last 20 years. The original pattern of small clearings for pasture and crops for minimal survival has gone and the "fields" planted with fast growing evergreens in regular rows. Timber and Cellulose production has triumphed.

It isn't easy tracing relations without constant surnames - sons and daughters named after father's and mother's christian names - but perhaps your father's family had maintained contact during the decades.

Oren Grad
26-May-2010, 22:06
Peter Gerdehag... Jan Töve... Gerry Johansson... Lars Tunbjörk...

Struan, these are marvelous, especially Jan Töve and Gerry Johansson. Are there any others you'd recommend? From a photographic perspective, Sweden is terra incognita for me.

27-May-2010, 03:39
i have had no problems carrying items on board and checking them. i would carry your camera on.

i have carried many items on board just back in march. amsterdam to NY. i carried a 25 inch focal length petzval lens in one bag and the other had a whole plate camera and my small lap top in the other. my check bag was full of lenses. :)

no troubles at all.

i have also check many cameras that were well packed in my check baggage. easy.

i let them x ray my carry on bags with the film in it. no problems. they never bat an eye.

Kimberly Anderson
27-May-2010, 05:47

Thank you so much for your reply. I forwarded the aerial photography of the countryside farms to my father. He will have a fun time looking through it.

We have so many known relatives scattered across Sweden that we will be staying with the entire time we are there. I am looking forward to getting a little more 'intimate' look at what Swedes feel is important that I go see. I am not so much into the 'tourist' version of Sweden, so your suggestion of viewing Jan Töve rings a bell with me. 'Countryside Anthropologist' is similar to a phrase I sometimes use when describing what I do as 'Cultural Anthropolosit'. This is what I feel I am doing with my photography at it's fundamental conceptual level.

I look forward to meeting you while we're there. Our itinerary is fairly set, but everyone I'm traveling with knows that at any given time I may decide to peel away from the group and go photograph.

Thanks again for your reply.

Struan Gray
27-May-2010, 12:29
I look forward to getting together.

Oren: Swedish photography is as diverse as any. You can get an overview of most of the established and canonical art names at a gallery site called xpo.se. The presentation doesn't do much to enthuse someone not already familiar with the work, but it's useful as google-fodder when you discover someone interesting. Other than Gerry Johansson (who to my mind is unique in his individuality and long-term commitment), Lennart Olsson and Lennart Durehed are probably my favourites. Ohlsson's large photogravures are done no favours by the site - in the round they have a wonderful wall presence, without making a big deal of the technique used to produce them. Sadly, Ohlsson died very recently.

xpo.se has the best of the Life/Vu/Picture Post style photographers, including Gunnar Smoliansky and Hans Hammarskiöld. Some great shots, but very much like the other photographers working in similar style for similar publications elsewhere. Henry B. Goodwin is Sweden's pictorialist, but I can't warm to him like I do to, say, Alvin Langdon Coburn, even after seeing original prints. Dawid is an odd, quiet, intense talent who has had an un-fanfared international success, but most of his work is just too stripped bare and conceptual for my taste.

Not on the site are Anders Petersen and J.H.Engström, who along with Christer Strömholm have had an enormous influence over the education of art-oriented photo students here. Petersen and Strömholm are a little hard to find online, but easily assimilated once found. Engström is a sort of Ryan McGinley without the smiles and sunshine, and with a now slightly over-used annoying printing schtick. Much loved on the Euro art circuit, widely copied among the recently graduated (and, FWIW, NSFW in puritan countries).

In the nature line, there are many, many Swedish nature photographers and filmmakers. There is a general rhetorical stance against what is seen as a USA-derived over-emphasis on neat, anthropomorphised stories, but they sell to a USA-dominated market, so the usual tropes sneak through nevertheless. Even the most rebellious can't give up deep saturated colours. Töve is a favourite, as is Hans Strand, whose books are excellent and well worth tracking down. Norwegian Pål Hermansen is a superficially mainstream wildlife photographer who has done interesting black and white nature work, as well as some gorgeous abstract long exposures of gulls and other birds in flight.

Talking of Norway, Tom Sandberg was highly influential when I was groping around for ways to go with my photography. Google turns up a lot of his nudes, but his other work is worth finding. There's a photo of a wet log in a river that has a power far in excess of any reasonable assessment of the subject matter. Harder to find is Vegar Moen, whose LF photos of Hong Kong and other Far Eastern sites of change should, IMHO, have recieved a lot more attention than the wave of sublime-seekers that followed.

As I said earlier, very few photographers address the interactions between humans and the landscape which are now common parlance in the softer sciences, and go under the umbrella phase 'cultural landscapes'. Landscapes are almost exclusively NATURE, and are looked at as wildernesses free of human intervention, despite the almost complete lack of any truly untouched landscapes anywhere in the country.

If you are in Norden, or have access to a very good library elsewhere, see if you can find a copy of Sten Selander's "Det Levande Landskapet i Sverige". Published in 1955 the prose is a bit purple-ish, and the science a little outdated, but the photographic illustrations of various biotopes have an amazingly contemporary feel. The original book is a beautiful production too. I personally would love to find more photos like these, but they're very hard to find - current books with a similar theme are largely illustrated by the authors' own snaps, plus watercolours and drawings. I try to fill the gap a little with my own work.

Sorry Michael for taking over the thread a little. You'll have plenty to look out for as you travel around at least :-)

Oren Grad
27-May-2010, 12:44
Struan: Thanks for taking the time to write all that - plenty to chew on, much appreciated.

And Michael: Apologies for diverting your thread a bit.

Kimberly Anderson
27-May-2010, 12:50
Sorry Michael for taking over the thread a little. You'll have plenty to look out for as you travel around at least :-)

NEVER apologize for adding richness to what started out as a a pretty bland query. I have learned much from looking at those photographs.

If I have anyone I wish to emulate while I'm there, it would be a cross between the Swedish painters Theodor Kittelsen (romantic) and Carl Larsson (pragmatic...and romantic), and the American painter, Thomas Moran.

I do not want to emulate other photographers. I would rather emulate painters. Their philosophy fits in more congruently with the way I want to photograph than just about any other photographer I have looked at.

Struan Gray
27-May-2010, 13:20
Glad I didn't drown anybody.

Larsson (and his wife Karin) are simply everywhere in home furnishings, the decorative arts generally, and foundation myths about the perfect family life. One of Carl's paintings that has me itching to start a career as a cat burglar hangs on the staircase of the Gothenburg Art Museum - an astonishing vertical panorama of his daughter smiling amid a rubble of very male toys (swords and the like). I'm sure he had his debts to Japanese prints, but his use of long vertical frames is always invigorating, and I have learnt a lot from him, despite my printing square.

Painters have more freedom, particularly with texture, but they have to work harder to avoid being decoration.

Kimberly Anderson
19-Aug-2010, 19:45
Here is a small gallery of images I've started scanning yesterday. 38 rolls of 120 and 40+ sheets of 5x7. This will take a while.

Tip of the iceburg... (http://www.tawayama.com/sweden2010/sweden2010slideshow/)

Steven Tribe
20-Aug-2010, 03:04
Looks like you hit the real dry part of the summer before the rains set in. It sure looks like Sweden.
Thanks for giving the feedback.