Midsummer Eve

Midsummer Eve. The biggest holiday feast next to Christmas here in Sweden. It’s connected to the summer solstice, but since the Midsummer feast always occurs on a Friday they’re not synced.

I’m not going to say much about it and the traditions like the history or the weird frog dance around a pole and such. But food and “nubbe” (untranslatable in English – it’s a nickname for shots) are for sure the number one and most important component when celebrating Midsummer Eve. Well, at least the food. The “nubbe” is not that important or even necessary, although a deep-rooted tradition.

Playing games is also a common activity during Midsummer Eve. The Midsummer Eve traditions we celebrate belongs to the more party and playful generation. Which probably is the most common way to spend this day, in one or another way.

Otherwise, it’s also common that family’s meet up at public arranged Midsummer Eve gatherings. These gatherings don’t include any spirits – they are pure innocent family and friends gatherings of a finer cultural nature.

Basically, Midsummer Eve is a typical family and friends feast holiday. But when the teens are big enough to mind their own business, they usually preferred to celebrate this day on their own. For a reason. Or at least after some hours spent with families, they say thank you and goodbye. Oh my, I remember my teenage Midsummers…

On Midsummer Eve we eat a lot of “sill och potatis” – herring and spring/new potatoes. This is the absolutely most important item on the table – this is the King and Queen. No midsummer without it, don’t you dare. But the herring and potatoes definitely need to be served together with sour cream, chive, red onion, and eggs.

And of course we drink beer to this, and in between, we take our “nubbe”. Small shots of strong spirits spiced and brewed on different herbs. Sometimes accompanied to a short, often a quite odd song called “snapsvisa” – shot-song, and hail “skål” – cheers. “Botten upp” – bottoms up, is also a common expression together with the “skål”.

I’m not very good at shot-songs, but this is the most traditional and famous one:

Helan går
Sjung hopp faderallan lallan lej
Helan går
Sjung hopp faderallan lej
Och den som inte helan tar
Han heller inte halvan får
Helan går
(Drink)
Sjung hopp faderallan lej

Here’s a link to Wiki with a translation and some background info >> The whole one goes

But it can be something very short, like this – in English:

Not now… Not now…
… But now!

… simple as that. No rules. It doesn’t even have to be a song. Anything stupid will do.

To dessert, we have strawberries with cream and drink coffee. This is just as traditional important as the herring and potatoes. And probably maybe some more shots in between, but this time it’s often something more sweet kind of liquor.

Don’t worry, much booze here, but most people handle the spirits well. But some too happy people easily get really, really drunk and go crazy. Or fall apart in a corner. I don’t lay any other values into this more than people with known repeatedly bad alcohol issues should not be allowed touching it.

However.

After all this eating we usually mingle around and then it’s time for some playtime. It can be just anything. It often involves some kind of physical and playful competition activity. A good and strategic way to shake and fresh up your body and mind after all food, beer, and shots.

Then we rest, keep on mingling. So we can eat some more later. And now it’s time for the next tradition- the barbecue. So we eat, drink beer, maybe some more shots in between. Usually more coffee again. And so it proceeds into the night and as long as there is someone left. Usually, we drop off one by one until Midsummer Eve falls to sleep.

Tied to the Midsummer Eve traditions comes the tradition of remarkably bad weather, spot on no matter how nice it has been just a day before. But the weather is nothing but an annoying detail. Some don’t give a shit, party and having fun outdoors anyway. We are so used to it that even the weather is a part of the tradition.

This year was no exception. But the outdoor games went little too rainy this year and got changed into an indoor quiz instead.

So far, we have had this Midsummer Eve feast tradition since our kids crawled on all four.

 

West Pride and the Rainbow People : part 2

West Pride

 

If you fall into this first you may want to read/look at part one first, or after, which order doesn’t matter. You find part one here >>

The parade is on and now I really don’t know where to be. So I stayed and walked along the direction randomly. That felt best. Staying in one same spot would be a boring lineup of photos. And I wanted to feel more alive and dynamic involved.

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The only drawback since I was focused on the parade. Is that it’s a parade. It gets a little bit like an exhibition. Well, kind of just what it is, but it’s a whole lot more fun to flow around and participate more.

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Since it was an open parade I could walk around in the middle of it all if I wanted to. But I think it would be very confusing and maybe annoying for others. And then, where? The parade was about just as long as the distance – about 2km. So I was pleased with randomly changing direction and step in and out of the parade in between.

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This year was a record year with about 16.000 participating in the parade. Probably just as many along the way. That makes whole lot of people when you bake in the rest of everyone else doing other business in the city.

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Doing a huge thing like this, occupying the centre city streets completely is quite amazing. But this is Gothenburg, and we love to party in the streets. And Gothenburg have a very strong partnership with the HBTQ movement / LGBTQ .

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Next time I will either stay longer or come later. At this time, about four hours later I was really exhausted I began to feel a bit dizzy and empty in my head. Impression overload. Still a craving need to make more and just be in this expressive gathering.

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So many more shots I wished I could make, but somewhere you just have to choose what and where to be. Impossible to be everywhere you would like to be.

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I think I could have had a really nice time after the parade when the participants in the parade began to gathering at the “Rainbow Square” for more happenings. I spent some time walking around and thought – shit, More fun to shoot!

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But somewhere it have to end. And then came the rain.

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But what would Rainbows be without rain. Fortunately for the Rainbow people it was a short lived rain and I think they got a really nice evening and night at the end.

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Peace, Love and Soul

West Pride and the Rainbow People : part 1

West Pride

I have never made so many photos in one day ever. Oh my, that was fun, but awful many shots to edit and process. Nothing I regret however, I could easily have made twice more if I was faster in my head and had more time and the mental endurance.

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So many photos I want to share, so I had to split this into two posts. Even then there are some more photos left behind. You will find those and these on my flickr account – klick any photo and you’ll find the album.

This was a blown away day – so many impressions all over everywhere. Surrounded by happy open minded people from the rainbow. Think if the world could be more like this.

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I love those humans. Thankfully it seems to be more of them than you think. Not only the Pride ones, also people who stand by their side who choose peace, love and soul before hate and fear.

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This was actually first time I went away to be there and see this. For some reason. Probably because I usually used to avoid crowds. Simply don’t like be in high intensity crowds. The cure is a camera and street photography. This have changed my brain patterns radically.

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Pride might be one of the most perfect time for street photography. The circumstances makes it kind of natural making photos and being photographed. No one think it’s strange to be caught on film, probably the opposite and like to be made, even want.

I began the day in the mingle where everyone was gathering for the parade. I didn’t knew what to expect or where to be or go. No need to. It was impossible to not feel as you where just where you should be – wherever you where.

Then I slowly moved my way along the direction of the parade.

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And here ends part one – welcome to part two >>

 

StreetParty – Hela Dagen Lång 2017

 

Every year a big street party occurs in the streets of Andra and Tredje långgatan in Gothenburg, formerly called Andra Långdagen. This year it was actually cancelled due to permission and safety issues, which have been a shadow of this Event since the beginning 2005.

Basically it’s a kind of gathering of the people who lives here and those who run their business here. Inviting everyone and anybody from everywhere to participate in this street party.

Hela Dagen Lång Street Party Gothenburg 2017

Hela Dagen Lång Street Party Gothenburg 2017

Hela Dagen Lång Street Party Gothenburg 2017

Hela Dagen Lång Street Party Gothenburg 2017

Hela Dagen Lång Street Party Gothenburg 2017

Hela Dagen Lång Street Party Gothenburg 2017

This festival actually doesn’t have any official organisers or permission to arrange this happening. Still it keeps coming back. Only days after the announcement of this years cancelling it bounced back and resurfaced under a new name – Hela dagen lång (All Day Long). Now even more unofficial with no contact persons at all. As said – you can’t hold back such a strong force of love.

Hela Dagen Lång Street Party Gothenburg 2017

Hela Dagen Lång Street Party Gothenburg 2017

Hela Dagen Lång Street Party Gothenburg 2017

Hela Dagen Lång Street Party Gothenburg 2017

Hela Dagen Lång Street Party Gothenburg 2017

Hela Dagen Lång Street Party Gothenburg 2017

Hela Dagen Lång Street Party Gothenburg 2017

This is a really a strange concept that seems unstoppable, and the decision makers of the city seems to unofficial permits it to occur, well aware of probably impossible to do anything else but let it happen. And it works, unexpectedly well, beside same drawbacks as always that follows during festivals, with or without official permission. People behave as they are attracted to be.

Hela Dagen Lång Street Party Gothenburg 2017

Hela Dagen Lång Street Party Gothenburg 2017

Hela Dagen Lång Street Party Gothenburg 2017

Hela Dagen Lång Street Party Gothenburg 2017

Hela Dagen Lång Street Party Gothenburg 2017

The art of simplicity is probably one major reason behind the successful atmosphere. A self-centred balance between me and you and everybody else, and a soul in the centre of it all.

This laid back attitude really show off in this street gathering party. Everybody is welcome, performers and visitors. People of all kind flaneur the streets together. Sitting, standing or spontaneous dancing together. This relaxed atmosphere of joy is contagious. This is intensive mindfulness in action. This is made for people by the people.

Hela Dagen Lång Street Party Gothenburg 2017

Hela Dagen Lång Street Party Gothenburg 2017

Hela Dagen Lång Street Party Gothenburg 2017

Hela Dagen Lång Street Party Gothenburg 2017

Hela Dagen Lång Street Party Gothenburg 2017

The performance of the day was definitely this act, of what I don’t know much more about than the lead “screamer” and dog toy player is known as H.M. Hammarin. They were absolutely awesome in their own kind.

Hela Dagen Lång Street Party Gothenburg 2017

Hela Dagen Lång Street Party Gothenburg 2017

Hela Dagen Lång Street Party Gothenburg 2017

And here is a short video clip

Unfortunately I had not that much of time as I would like to. I could probably have stayed here for some more hours without any signs of tiredness. Which was quite unexpected for being me who very easily gets ridiculous exhausted in intensive crowds.

I wish I could stay all night and keep on making photos. A gold mine for a street photographer and so much more to shoot. And I would like to have been far more hustle in my shutter finger than I was.

See ya next year for sure. This time loaded with shutter speed and more time.

Hela Dagen Lång Street Party Gothenburg 2017

Hela Dagen Lång Street Party Gothenburg 2017

Addicted

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.

 

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.

Follow my wife

Sometimes it happens that I follow my wife to the stable to help her. Not as often as I should, it’s actually quite hard workout she’s doing. Not the most fun, but when done it feels good and you have got a nice time of fresh air, happy body and refreshed head. Human bodies are created for work. Hard physical work.

It happens that I even take ride on our horse occasionally. Not as often as I should. That’s even better workout. And fun. But I’m not very good at fine tuned riding, I’m more the rough full speed galloping guy, or terrain riding. Mostly it is our daughter who rides him. And she’s a hell of Icelandic horse equestrian.

But today it only was a visit to look after the horses and take care of things. It’s no secret that I prefer the summertime when being here. During the dark half of the year it’s usually awful raw cold to be here. And pitch black.

Strangely it have it’s own remarkable attraction of being exposed by this cold darkness, and dirty rough work. After it’s over and done. But at this time of the year you definitely feel that spring is on its way after all. It’s not that cold any longer and the sun goes down later for each day that passes by. A nice way to get in touch with the seasons and feel the world.

To bring the camera along makes things even better. It’s my psychologist.

Lately I also have started to play around with colours to break my monochrome habits. It have its own language that differ from black and white. Telling a different story, a different touch. Actually I don’t favour either. I like both. But colour is much harder to find out how I like to use them.

Happiness

Small simple moments of happiness. The less than more, the better it is. In my opinion. The law of least resistance. Like electricity – it always choose the easiest and most effective way to its target. Some people have a more complex roadmap to the laughing centre and need a more sophisticated device to see the fun.

Some, like me or my mother in law, and my wife, my kids and our closest relatives we visited this evening, have a very simple and short way to laughter and all that is required, is nothing more than a fart.

Or as in this case, Snapchat. Which my mother in law experienced for the first time ever this evening. It ended up everybody had a small breakdown and sore cheekbones. Im not that much of a Snapchatter myself. But it’s actually a very simple and easy way to have fun, and I love simple cheep fun. And this evening was really funny.

And lovely. Few things are so satisfying than making or see other people laugh. Have fun, have more fun, and never hold back for the most simple and cheap reason to laugh. Be proud of that the most simple shit is enough to laugh. Humour and easy to laughter is one of the best and most important characteristics to possess for a human being.

Lets talk about the weather, and the Blue Girl

Will there be any weather today? That’s  kind of common question in many parts of the southern half of Sweden during the dark half of the year. Or maybe I invented it by myself (so can it be).

However, it’s a relevant question to reflect upon when you look out and try to grip what kind of weather it is outside the window. Flat and grey cloudy sky, little bit windy, a dancing temperature around 0 degrees Celsius (32 F) – that’s typically no weather in my opinion. And a common circumstance that surrounds your presence. Totally unnoticeable, but at the same time annoying present. Chewing and slowly unnoticeable draining your emotions into the same state of mind as the weather. Until you become one.

On the top of all this – naked trees, dark pines (looks almost black on distant), 50 shades of brown and grey, dirty, sandy, salty streets. And to many f**ing clothes to keep warm. Even if not actually really cold, the moister in the air creeps into your bones and steal the warmth.

So how can you possibly be happy and survive in this heavy shit day after day during late autumn, winter and a short bit into the beginning of spring, until you begin to see fragments of hope, a hope for a great summer – that may never come…

It’s actually quite easy. You just do it. Thats it. What else is there? If the weather would decide what to do with your life we would probably be dead, or not live here at all. The weather always wins, because it won’t change on demand. It will stand by you whatever you think about it and what you do.

If you let the weather decide how to feel. You lose, hard. Don’t even try to control what you can’t control. It will only make you unhappy and angry and hide your motivation and inspiration. Bad and boring temper kills your creativity and ability to see the solutions.

If looking through an another eye – as it is, the weather actually is the most loyal companion you can wish for. It’s always there and you will see it and meet it every day. So, try just to cope and don’t measure the value of its presence – be like the weather. Care and don’t care at the same time – Wu Wei. And remind yourself that it is you who decides how you want to feel, not the weather.

And in a way. It’s just like life in common. How fun would life be if everything was constantly nice and easy without challenges.

Meanwhile, as I sat in the kitchen and had this writing self therapy session before my plan to get on the bus to Gothenburg. The weather suddenly changed. First to a thick fog, and then came the sun from nowhere. One hour later it was a smiling clear blue sky in Gothenburg.

The Blue Girl
As i walked around and around, as usually in the beginning when I’m in the streets. Searching for the right mood to begin. I ran into this beautiful girl with a magical blue hair, and just thought Wow! I just have to take a picture of her. This was my first ever attempt to ask for permission to take a photo. But I don’t remember if she said yes before I took the photo (I really don’t remember what I said either). It felt like a yes cause she started to laugh and could not stop.

Strangely it felt just natural to ask her and not uncomfortable awkward at all. Maybe because my hair also have a quite extreme colour, but red, although hidden under my beanie. But I had to show her my hair colour too after the shot and said thank you. And she continued to laugh. This was a very strange moment that made my day.

To do and be, or not to do and be

Took a tour to the bigger city this time with my camera. It’s nice to live in Mölndal because in many ways it’s closer to Gothenburg than the most parts of Gothenburg itself. By that I mean the more central parts of the city.

Unfortunately the weather was extremely boring (no surprise). Dull, dull, grey, snowy, rainy, wet and chilly. The only kind of good was wet. Swedish winter in this region is anything else but exciting. Wet pavements at least tweaks up the contrast to give some kind of interesting touch beyond boredom.

But, thats more a matter of attitude and skill and a challange to adopt, not an excuse to blame on. Not that I am a master of either all times, but I know to shut up, knowing that it is up to myself to decide how and what to do about it. Failure is often a result of bad attitude, and sometimes bad attitude try to convince you that you have failed – are you really shure?

I have lost a lot of my former secure feeling working with a more advanced camera. I have been using my iPhone for the last more than five or more years. Therefore I go with my settings on total auto for the moment. But today I tried to make some use of the exposure compensation, with the result that I forgot to change it between the shots sometimes. If you don’t need to control shutter speed or aperture this probably is the most simple way to control the exposure.

My biggest obstacle when it comes to photography in public is that I have always felt very uncomfortable doing it. This is a mental block that no one else but me can change, and I know it. I have a history of being extremly shy since childhood. Even if my confidence and self esteem is lightyears better nowadays and is no longer a problem, the next step – pointing the camera at people and catch them feels like a huge mountain.

Maybe my drawing towards street photography is some kind of subconscious challange that some hidden part of my head have given me. That I should get out there and try street photography. A kind of self therapy to overcome my last big wall and finally tear it down.

All I know so far about street photography is that I’m to unsecure in my own head. Today was no exception from this knowledge (notice my own pitfall here). The first hour was just a walk through, wondering – what the fuck how, I can’t do this!

 

So I went talking to the seagulls and the pigeons for a while instead. They where very kind and made me feel much more comfortable in the world. I kind of disappeard and got invisible for a while and forgot for a while that I was walking around like a strange nerd with my camera pointing at birds.

This was an intersesting reflection, and reaction. The birds made me more comfort walking around with my camera in public. The birds didn’t solved the problem. But they made the next step a whole lot easier – to at least lift up the camera in front of people in crowds. Without selcting any specific persons, I’m not quite ready for full confrontation yet. But it happened “accidentally” once when I took a shot randomly at a bus stop.

 

I also tried random shooting from hip level or sneaking in awkward angles at the monitor to hide my intentions. But that felt weird and even worse. It actually felt more comfortable when I used the viewfinder than sneaking. Almost that I was hidden behind a wall between me and the world outside when my eye looked through the viewfinder. That was a surprising feeling and something I didn’t expected to happen. Using the monitor didn’t feel that effective at all compared to the viewfinder in this case.

Overall conclusions of the day was – Not so bad at all. Could be better, but actuallay I had no great expectations for the day but try to work with myself first of all. And I learned a couple of invaluable mental techniques to remind me of and make use of.

Even if I took quite a lot of photos, very few became of any value to save. Mostly of those on people went quite boring. But sometimes even not so exciting, boring, blurry, almost of no significant value at all, for anyone. Hide something strange that live its own life beyond the ordinary, worth to keep, and even share (I know, thats nothing but a personal opinion).