What Instagram made me understand about photography

I just got a feeling that I needed to write a statement that I want to share with you.

#whippet #dog #eyes

A post shared by Mikael Stenström (@smike66) on

From my point of view looking at myself as a photographer. Here are six things I like a lot about Instagram.

1. Don’t be so fucking ambitious and serious. Have fun and share.
2. Pros and happy amateurs participate equal side by side and share what they believe is good enough in one or another way without judging more than like it or not, follow and maybe a very short comment.
3. Moods and feelings and the photography itself in focus.
4. The lack of exaggerated and square headed criticism, technical hypocrisy and smart alecks.
5. Probably the best place to share more personal and experimental photography without bad feelings of not good enough. This is a very natural place for photographic brainstorming and catch the taste of yourself.
6. You can’t pay to get more, be more or get privileged advantages. It’s free, both to get and how to use. Famous or unknown, equal circumstances for anyone (of course easier to get likes and followers if your person is well known from the beginning).


A post shared by Mikael Stenström (@smike66) on

When it comes to me myself and I. Before Instagram I used to be way too ambitious and serious for my own best. Trapped inside an imaginary identity of me as a photographer.

I spent endless loads of time and energy in finding those perfect views and endless time of post processing trying to make those maximum perfect photos, in every pixel.

#sunset #shadow #nature #dog

A post shared by Mikael Stenström (@smike66) on

It wasn’t me. It was someone else who made my work. Somewhere I slowly started to become someone who saw my work through others expectations.

I wasn’t there. It didn’t work very well either. Only time consuming disappointment and feelings of not good enough. I lost myself somewhere along the road.

#sun #dark #contrast #parasol #sunshade

A post shared by Mikael Stenström (@smike66) on

I got bored of photography. I got bored of fiddling with computers and software. I almost began to hate everything that had to do with photography. Except making personal photos just for fun and documenting family happenings.

Shortly after I got my first iPhone I discovered that the camera in it was actually quite good. So I started to use it more and more.

#moon #evening #sorcerer #sky

A post shared by Mikael Stenström (@smike66) on

I have always been a bit late in the go with the flow. So Instagram was no obvious choice in the beginning. It took a while before my curiosity made me open up. And when it happened. I found a wonderful new and fun world of making and sharing photography.

A post shared by Mikael Stenström (@smike66) on

In the beginning I used the filters within Instagram a lot, but after a while the little nerd of control in me wanted more control of the post process. In the beginning I used Camera+ but then came Snapseed and ever since the only photo editor I use. Although nothing wrong with using the Instagram filters, they do a great job making nice moods.

#meadow #forrest #sun #sunset #glade

A post shared by Mikael Stenström (@smike66) on

I love the laid back attitude of Instagram and how it affects your mindset. The simple straightforward way of sharing and participate and interacting with yourself is a huge relief.

In one way, I could easily say that Instagram saved my life as a photographer. It made photography fun again and it made me find myself, what I really wanted to do and how to do it.

That makes Instagram a kind of inner guiding teacher.

#water #waterdrops #puddle #reflection #silhouette

A post shared by Mikael Stenström (@smike66) on

A post shared by Mikael Stenström (@smike66) on


A quick walk back and forth in Mölndal

Got restless. Took my camera and jumped on my bike. Not far. Mölndal city is only five minutes away. Actually a not a very inspiring town for street photography. Except the bridge.

This place is absolutely great for shooting street photography. Especially when the sun is low in the evening. I couldn’t decide if I wanted to shoot colour or black and white. The colours are fun here when the sun shine through the colourful spots of glass. Still experimenting with what and how to do with these colour.

So I took the settings for colour.

But at the end many photos became monochrome back home in the post process. Sometimes black and white just feels better for some reason no matter how nice the colours are. Sometimes colours was what gave me the right touch. Feelings of the mood (for the moment) goes first, always.

Remembered trying to use the flash this time. Three gentlemen in a flooding backlight. It would have been impossible without the flash. They seemed nice and laid back so I asked. Not an obvious reaction but a couple of seconds after I asked nicely they lowered their guard and invited me to make a photography. Afterwards they wanted to take a look and made a pleasant laugh, very satisfied with the result. Then we had a short chat. They wondered if I was a journalist or so.

This was the one and only street portrait for this walk. It wasn’t my plan at all. I really didn’t expected that much at all actually of this spontaneous ride and small photo walk. I think my focus was on lights and shadows mostly when I arrived. My shadow included, I love to shoot my own shadow.

I actually made an attempt earlier today, on my way home after work. But I only made to shots. Then I lost my mind.


I can’t stop making photos. It’s itching inside my head constantly. Sometimes I scratch myself with making photography just to get rid of the itch. I see poetry and art everywhere wherever I am.

The world have definitely changed a lot since I reloaded my life with a camera again. I see the world in two ways at the same time now – the ordinary, and the extraordinary. I really love my new world, it makes it more of everything.

And I need to make photos of this world. No matter how insignificant it may look for others. That’s not my problem if others don’t see and feel what I do. I live here and make photos of it. That’s it.

And when I’m not making photos with my Fuji X100T or iPhone7, I post process my photography with Snapseed on my iPad. Which is just as exciting and fun as shooting.

Sometimes it’s in this digital darkroom the real magic occurs. Where you see and develop the secrets hidden in the ordinary boring daylight. Or more likely – what you saw and see, feel and felt inside and beyond the daily common granted grey.

Photography is full of possibilities.


Shooting the streets and ask for permission

At last. Ok, not that long time ago, but long enough since I took a photo walk in the streets full of life.

Still a little bit empty in my head after all this headache I have had lately, but my cravings to get out was too strong to hold me back today. Free fall is the best way to try when you not sure.

I was fiddling with my camera settings for a reason I’m not really sure of why, but I did. When I saw a man who was also fiddling with something on the ground. We were both in the same fiddling world. I took a shot, and missed. Everything out of focus. Bulls eye nice conclusion. This is my head. So I really like it bad…

But I can’t make photos like this for the rest of the day (hell yeah! I sure can if I want, but I don’t, not today).

As usually when I want people I go to Gothenburg. But it seems that I have made a routine of to make my last shots in my own backyard on my way home. Wherever I am or go I usually start warming up shooting objects and slowly sneak into aiming for people. Sometimes I shock-treat myself with a stoic confrontation.

And shit how I wish for warmth, and that I didn’t care. But I do. Six, seven months of chilly shit is more than I need. Spring is annoying late.

I made a little project for the day. More or less not so very well thought through, more a spontaneous idea because it felt just right timing in my mood today. But based on something old I have been waiting for a while to make use of. This fucking hesitation is annoying.

Trying to catch the courage to ask for permission to make a photography, more often. I have succeeded doing it before, but very sporadically. So it doesn’t comes naturally. I would like to change that and make it feel just as natural and comfortable as shooting a tree.

I also think that asking strangers for permission is a great way to empower your courage and evolve your street photography in general.

After all, being photographed by a stranger however it occurs, is not a very normal situation. That’s just facts. Getting a strange look or a comment is rather a natural reaction.

Make photography of strangers, but don’t make their thoughts.

People with dogs seems to be very easy to get a yes for permission to make a photography of. They seems to feel proud over the attention together with their beloved.

And I have a feeling of that it’s almost the same with human couples, or friends.

Actually, I have realised that asking is far more less scary. It feels a lot more easy and comfortable than silent but obvious shooting chosen strangers. Even revealing yourself openly with your camera instead of trying to hide and sneak is much more comfortable.

Some people just smile and say yes. Others wonder with a kind and curious attitude. Whatever what reaction I get I immediately usually follow up my request with a why. I’m quite sure they want to know even if they don’t say anything.

But sometimes it happens that I just ask and say thanks with a smile and a thumb up. That works really good too. I always do this when I shoot people without asking. A smile and a thank you is the less you should do when making unexpected photography of strangers.

My most common phrase is based on my true reason. And I would never lie about why. I’m a terrible liar and they would probably see straight thorough me if I lied. If I see someone special I actually tell them that I just happened love people like them and would like to make a photography.

This man really made my day. After I got my shot and was about to walk back in the other direction, he turned around and said thank you ver much. That made my heart beat with a warm smile on my face.

I’m considering of making visit cards to give my strangers I meet and make photos of.

My second highlight was a couple back home in Mölndal. They were friendly but a little suspicious and curious about my intentions, with all rights, I don’t blame them. So I told them my story, in very short terms. It ended in asking if I had a gallery of some kind on the web, so I gladly gave them my blog address. Which was not easy because suddenly I couldn’t remember it and had to pick up my phone.

This was a very nice end of the day.

Next step in asking is to get even closer and maybe do a bunch of shots instead of single shots. But at the same time I like the thrill of only get one shot and try to nail it in only one shot. That gives the photography an unique feeling – the one and only, and I got it. Maybe not perfect, but good enough.

And I would like to try remember using the flash when doing my street portraits. A flash blended with the ambient daylight makes a very nice touch.


Still hate it even if I know it’s totally useless. In some awkward ways it have probably made good things in the making of me. Like being humble to life and appreciate life for the most simple reasons.

But migraine is a cruel teacher and I don’t think the lessons are worth it at the end. The time you have to spend at migraine university steal incredible much time of your life.

There’s a reason why haven’t been so active in making street photography in the centre of it all. Where all the people walk around.

In periods I’m extremely sensitive to migraine and need to try to avoid more intensive impressions as much as possible. Sometimes I do it anyway, always ends in punishment. Sometimes worth it. But I prefer to avoid it. The pain and the nausea is ridiculous naughty.

I have my migraine killers. Luckily they do the job most of the time, sometimes they don’t. But even if the medicine work, it only kills the effect of the migraine. The cause is actually still active in the background.

Feeling better is unfortunately only temporarily when I’m in my worst periods of attacks.

In between you sometimes feel so exhausted and tired that you wish you could sleep for a days.

That’s hard when you almost shiver of abstinence in the need to be creative and want to create. So I create.

But not more than I need to make satisfaction. The crowded hordes of people in the streets won’t disappear. But I can. The streets can wait.

Be humble to your pain. To hate it won’t make it disappear- it makes it stronger. Be patience and wait, wait, wait. One day it will be good enough again. So use your freedom while you are free, even if it’s just for a moment before you fall again.

Fall seven times, rise eight.

Never let the disturbing distractions guide you. Aim for the open space between what stands in your way. Look for the openings and things that distract the bad, instead of being distracted by the bad. It’s the only way if you are surrounded by something that you cannot make disappear.

As this blog actually is a photography blog, a personal photography blog. Everything I write about also have connections to photography, in one or another way. Probably not obvious all the time, cause I also refer to life itself (from a personal view, not as a common truth). For me the philosophy of life and photography is very tight connected in my mindset.


I like to look around where I live for things to make photography. To walk or take the bicycle and randomly go wherever I feel to and explore. You always find something to shoot and having fun with back home when post processing what you’ve got.

Thats two in one for free. Travel and exploring inside out.

Exploring your local area where you live can if you want to, be more interesting than you think. But if you expect awesome moments and exotic scenery you will probably be disappointed. At least if you live in a smaller place where everything is more or less average.

But if you were a visitor from another place you would probably think it was a little more exciting. Maybe not fancy, but different enough to catch your curiosity. As soon things around you becomes different it suddenly gets a lot more exciting to explore and look around.

Pretending to be a tourist in your own hometown is an excellent way to widen the same old shit into more than the same old shit that you almost have made invisible.

Next step is even more exciting. Pretending to be an adventure tourist and go to places you normally never or rarely visit. Then, take it to the next level – pretend to be someone else. Someone from another culture for whom everything is new and exotic.

I remember once when I used to work in a big restaurant and when I got bored. I started to pretend that I was on a huge spaceship in deep space. Half of the crew and guests were either humans or aliens from different worlds that came to eat. This actually worked very well to withstand the more heavy levels of boredom. Totally crazy stupid but better than digging holes.

All to often we tend to shrink our daily life we live in. Moving in the same patterns day after day. Not strange that things easily becomes like same shit as yesterday. After a while you will not see the trees for all the trees.

After a while the soul in things decay and make you feel dissatisfied. You are the killer and the world around you is the victim. You want to escape and search for satisfaction in expensive travels and consumption. If you get stuck in lack of possibilities you may fade to grey or get struck by destructive anger.

But the soul never was in the things you killed. They were a reflection of yourself.


Sun, Glass and Shadows

What if and not much to do about it

As lust for shooting

And time is not filled with the space

I was actually in the middle of vacuum cleaning the apartment and preparing other stuff of need before time to go to work.

Lately I have been electrified by lust of just shoot whatever and care less of what. Just do it and see what I get and what can be done what I got. The post process itself is half the fun.

It’s no secret that this results in lots of crap. And honestly not even those I choose to make it is any of my most wanted. But what I like is the doing and the process. And sometimes I really like what I have managed to achieve.

It’s the creative process itself, The making. I love it and feel like a happy imaginary kid fooling around. I can really disappear deep into myself when this happens.

Sometimes I easily become mesmerised of the most ridiculous things I may find around me. In my head it becomes of great importance to explore.

I have always had a strong attraction to reflections, shadows, structures, shapes, patterns and details. And I find a lot of pleasure in playing with my mood in what I see.

For others, maybe just a wtf and not much more. But I don’t do it for others who think like that. I do it for myself and others who understand what I see, and why I’m doing it.

For you who may feel a touch of understanding but don’t see the reason. Apply this play on your regular more seriously photography…

What do you think? I think seeing beyond the ordinary make your subconscious mind more active, making your work more intuitive, reacting more instinctively of what you see around and how you compose your shots.

Ás and Embla

and others

No long words here. Just some horses, my daughter, wife on a bench and thats it. And some words to say something.

Ás is the name of our icelandic horse. It’s pronounced “aus” meaning God-like as in Æsir. He truly is.

Embla is the name of the first woman in norse mythology and means little elm. She’s our first daughter, so that’s true.

No, we don’t have another daughter, she’s the one and only.The other one is a son, but he’s name is not Ask (the first man in same mythology).

But just like our daughter he also have an old name connected to the norse mythology – Terje, a merge of Thor and geir meaning Thor’s spear (more common name in Norway, maybe Iceland too, I’m not sure).

He’s not in picture here because he study miles away in a town called Lund. He’s brain is from another planet. Or maybe the future.


My style is…

photographic… None

I have no style and never had, maybe never will. More than through a few series of shots when I feel for a more wrapped feeling. It have nothing to do with that I don’t want to add a more personal identity to my photos in general.

This is, as usually, yet another confused post of my thoughts. This time about my search for identity in my photography. But also some words about digital vs analog, and what is freedom of choice. All photos in this post are old analog photography, shot with my iPhone, made with as little touch up as possible to look just as they do physical. Some photos, of me, like the cover photo and me lightning a cigarette, is not my shots. They are made by friends that borrowed my camera. I often used to let others make photos with my camera back in this time.

It would actually be a big relief if I could find my own style and stick to it because it would simplify my life as a photographer a lot.

The problem is that I change my mind too easily of how I want things and quickly get bored when I repeat myself in same patterns. I wish it wasn’t so. But that’s how I am.

And that’s the huge drawback of digitalism that gives you almost endless freedom of choice. Not bad as in bad, but bad as in freedom of confusion.

The possibilities with the digital format is almost endless. How do you find the perfect choice out of billions of ways how to treat your photography? Especially when you know that in the same moment you find that perfect it’s no longer perfect anymore – it can always be better. Or better in a different way – in eternity.

For a person like me these possibilities are not of any help but Help!

In this case, the time of analog photography was far more easy to deal with. You had to work hard to tame the circumstances and create possibilities instead of be given them. Same, same but different you may think. But think again – it’s a big difference between be given and creating possibilities.

And I think that creating possibilities is far more creative and satisfying than be given possibilities. Somehow I think we actually get less creative and simple minded when we are given to much freedom. Making us spoiled and craving or confused.

A false conception of freedom that kidnap and capture our mind in a readymade jail of identities.

But no hard feelings, after all. I’m not an reactionist, definitely not. This is just a personal issue of myself and my own problems with myself in conjunction with my relationship with the digital photographic format.

But I can’t help it. I still love the heart and soul of analog film and workflow more. So why don’t I just shut the fuck up and go shooting analog film? I’m actually thinking about it, a lot. Going back doing it. But not completely retro – doing both.

Cause, after all. I actually really like the possibilities with digital photography. Not at least the simplicity – just shoot, shoot and shoot, being childish creative, experiment, just do it and the instant fail safe process in the making of the final photography.

No waste of money on failure and no time consuming struggle with chemicals and dark places to hide and wait and see the result. That’s worth al lot in comparison to think about. Just focus on the making of photography here and now.

At the same time. You lose the art of of slowing down when everything is about instant pleasure. The waiting involved with the analog workflow has its own values.

My biggest problem is – finding my analog soul in the digital format. My heart is there, but I haven’t found my soul in the creation of my identity. How I want it to look like.

Another problem with digital photography. The quality is often too good, to close to almost perfect that it almost feels sterile. Like you have deleted the filter of emotions between the camera and life and get a technical anatomy of reality without flaws.

I still hold on too tight to the amazing quality that my camera is capable of. Feeling guilty if I scramble my photos too rough and degrading the quality at free will. This is my number one mission to deal with – how to kill the presence of too much technical quality aspects.

But I don’t think I will find the origin of myself in my photography through this expedition either but more versions of my many myself.

Maybe I just should keep on experimenting and vary my photography as I do. What if that’s my style and identity. After all, my personality is of a restless changeable nature. So maybe that’s my way.

The future is unknown, so meanwhile I just do as I do. Why try to be and do something I don’t know is what I want.

I think I will know the day it happens. But probably just another for the moment.

Imagine all the people

Went for a different approach this time. First, I skipped the bus and took my infamous pink bike instead. Parked and walked around, took another ride, parked and walked around, and so on. This was a nice shot of choice.

Second. I really tried to be more straightforward today and don’t give a fuck of my annoying timidity and avoid this blocking hesitation.

It actually worked better than expected this time. Maybe it was the bike ride that pushed the button. But I noticed that the flow easily got disturbed all of a sudden from time to time. Mostly when I was in crowded streets of people in every square inch. It seems to make me confused and overloaded of what to do. So I try to avoid the most crowded streets – It gives me mental constipation.

It was impossible to not be reminded of the tragic terror attack in Stockholm yesterday. A lot of heavy armed policemen and blocking cars positioned at vulnerable places. The circumstances felt awkward normally and probably had an effective calming effect on most people around after all.

Otherwise life was going on as usual in Gothenburg. It was just as lively as always. I think that tragedies like the attack on Stockholm rather makes people even more likely to go out and gathering as kind of therapy.

The weather wasn’t the most pleasant today. Otherwise good enough to make people popping up like spring flowers everywhere. The awakening of Gothenburg’s famous pulse when spring slowly enter the city.

Since I bought my new camera I have started to revive a lot of the streets of Gothenburg. I used to live here and work here, in the middle of it all and this was my natural living space.

It’s definitely not my choice of living space anymore. I like it more laid back and empty. But I have definitely started to like to visit this crowded mess of confusion. Pop in and pop out. And it’s really fun to revive old memories of places that used to be a common part of my daily life. But I still prefer the less crowded spaces.

Another fun revival is to see an image of a former yourself in a stranger. It could be me 30 years ago, when I used to live Like a stray dog post-punk/industrial/electro/goth/whatever…

This meeting would never have occurred if I would have followed my former timid personality. I have a lot to thank the heart of street photography, as a therapy partner.

This became a wide and long photowalk/bikeride tour around the city. Ended up meeting my wife after her working day for a “fika” at random cafe.

! See ya nex post 😉