A couple of months ago I had a magical day in nature. I spent the weekend at my parents house in the country, and I felt a rush of inspiration. I decided to find dead and dry things in nature, making up a story of someone trying to imitate the dried up trees and blend in. Becoming one with the dead nature, maybe giving it new life. This wasn´t planned at all, and I truly love that feeling when you create in the moment and don´t have any expectations on the final result!
As you may know if you follow me on facebook, I´ve had a hard year with my creativity. The art school that I went to managed to take away all my inspiration and I haven´t had much passion left for photography this year. That´s why this shoot was so important for me, because in that moment I felt the love for my passion come back, and it made me so so happy.
I finally left school in June this year, and I´m actually starting to feel the passion come back to me, slowly, filling me with energy and happiness to be alive. But it´s still very fragile, so I won´t talk about it too much yet 😉
This image was expanded to a square frame. I shot some extra images of the surrounding to be able to expand it later in photoshop.
In the image above you see how I moved the camera a little bit to the left (left image) in order to get a photo of the surroundings to expand later.
Trying to get the camera to work 😀
Always take some extra shots of yourself smiling to the camera 😉
Here are some mobile images from my first solo exhibition in May this year! It was a big deal for me to have a solo exhibition, and a lot more work than I thought. But I believe that when you´ve done it a first time, the second will be a bit easier (I hope!). Having a solo exhibition is different than a group exhibition. You´re responsible for the whole experience, and not just your part of the exhibition. You can´t just pick your favoruite pictures, you have to think of how everything will look together. I hope to do more exhibitions in the future! So far I´ve sold three images from the show and I´m so happy about that!
Me and Victoria mirroring ourselves in my art!
Both me and Victoria modeled for this photo with the title ”Gränsland”.
My series Finding Peace. This year I´ve sold two of these images!
The exhibition took place at Kulturhuset Kåken in Gothenburg, and I was so happy when they asked me to exhibit!
Photo: Victoria Söderström
It´s me you see wandering around looking all deep 😉
I´m sure you´ve had the feeling that you want to be creative, but you just can´t figure out how or where to start. It´s as if you feel like you have so many amazing things inside you that it´s no idea to start. Maybe you´re afraid that your skills won´t match the perfect vision in your head. Afraid to fail. Maybe you feel the pressure from your extraordinary idea. You want to create something so good that you never know how to start, because the start will never live up to your expectations. The start of your creation will never be as good as the result you´re imagining inside your head.
I´ll give you an example: I have tons of ideas for books. Every time I get an idea I think: Yes! That´s it! I´m going to write a story about the sadness in the world, and about someone who beats the system, rescues the world and sees through it all. The language is going to be beautiful, musical and poetical. My book will change the lives of people who read it. They will finally see through my eyes and understand wha´ts wrong with the world. And because the book will be a best seller (well… of course!) I will literally change the world!
This sounds greatl, right? Nothing wrong with changing the world. But think about that pressure. The pressure you lay on yourself when you immediately imagine how your book is going to be read by millions of people. A happy dream of being loved by thousends of fans from around the world. A happy dream of reaching out, of getting the chance to scream out your message to the world.
This is beautiful. I´ts a good feeling to want to change something. It´s a great goal to want to reach out, to share your wisdom with others. But it´s also very dangerous. If you´re setting your goals too high, chances are that you won´t even start climbing that ladder. You feel that the goal is so far away, that you might not even bother to get going. From where you stand, you have no idea if you will ever have the time to reach your goal.
But you know what? Forget the ladder! Forget the goal! Life is not built like that anyway. Life is not a bunch of ladders to climb or roads to follow. Life is chaos. Life is constantly rinning water, a never ending storm. Life is what it is and you can only control small parts of it. You can control the life that is you. Do you want to change the world? Start by changing your own world!
Stop seeing the creative process as a ladder to climb. Your creativity is not a road with one start and one end. Your creativity is a plant that is constantly growing inside you. A plant that needs water, like the rest of your soul. Your creativity is the wind created by the flap of the wings of the little blue bird inside you. Your creativity deserves to be taken serioulsy, without you running around trying to label it. What does success have to do with writing a book, or recording an album or starting up your own business? Nothing!
We too easily mistake success for happiness. It´s not the same thing! If your goal is to succeed with your creativity, you will only see your achievments in relation to that big sucess. And you are bound to feel like a failure. Because nothing will ever feel big enough to make you happy. But you believe that success is what makes you happy, so you continue to fight for your dream of success, because you believe that you just haven´t succeeded enough yet. You believe that the success has to be bigger than this in order to feel happy. Otherwise you should already be happy. But success and happiness isn´t the same thing. In fact, they are very different. Success has to do with reaching your goals. Success is like the payment you get after one days hard work. Success is when you finally get to sit down and eat the meal that you´ve cooked for several hours, after working to earn money for the food. Success is winning a photography challenge that you´ve entered. You can succeed in a challenge, in a career. But that doesn´t make you happy automatically.
So what is happiness?
Happiness is when you feel content with what you have. Happiness is when you can sit down with a cup of tea, enjoying your own company, resting after one days joy or misery. Happiness is being able to be in your life without anxiety. Happiness is waking up in the morning with a joyful feeling, a feeling that anything can happen during the day. Happiness is feeling the opportunities of your life. Happiness is to not let worry or fear rule your life. Happiness is to be brave enough to spend a whole summers day out alone in the nature, feeling free and perfectly happy just where you are. Happiness is to not lay your life on the future. Happiness is to be free from worry. Happiness is the wisdom to cease the day.
Do you think that success can give you all of this?
When we long for success, we long for the love of others. If I were to write a book and it would be a bestseller, it wouldn´t matter if it wasn´t real people who bought my books and actually shared my story with me. Just the number doesn´t mean anything. In the end, what truly means something is love and understanding. I believe that´s what we all want, deep inside of us. I believe that we all want to be creative because we need to share our story with someone else. We feel good if we can reach out, share something and listen to each other. That is beautiful. That is what counts. It´s in the act of sharing that we´re fulfilling ourselves. When we give to each other (even if it´s a silly selfie, a pretentious book trilogy or a piece of music on soundcloud) we are showing ourselves to the world. We all want to be understood by someone. We want to feel that someone out there gets us. That someone out there can relate to us.
Modern life teaches us to never be happy. Money is involved, and if companies are going to be able to sell their products to us, they need us to feel discontent and not fully satisfied. If we were perfectly happy with what we had, why would we want to spend money on something new that we don´t really need? We learn to long for success. We learn to long for so many shallow things: fame, money, status, success. But what we truly need is to feel loved and accepted just as we are.
The reason I wanted to write this article is because I know a lot of people who struggle with getting started with a creative project. And I believe that this is the reason. We all need to let go of the pressure and see the reason why we´re actually creating. We are creating because we want to express ourselves and share our view of the world with others. Don´t let thoughts about fame or success or great and bad reviews get in the way. Deep inside, that´s not what you want anyway. Those things won´t make you happy. You don´t have to take it so seriously. You never have control over other peoples reactions to your creative work, so you have to let that go. When you start thinking about that painting you want to paint, don´t think any further! Don´t think about the result or about the big picture. Don´t think about how you want other people to see it, or how they should look at your art. Just start painting!
Stop being so damn ambitious. Honestly! You don´t have to save the world. In fact, you can´t save the world. No one can save the world. Not by themselves. We can all save our own world, step by step. You can live in your own creative world, by being creative. You can fulfill yourself by creating for yourself, and share it with the people you like. And that´s enough. Happiness won´t come any faster if you start producing hit music. Happiness is not the same as success. Success is not the same as creative flow. To fulfill yourself is not the same as being famous. To succeed it to take your own ideas seriously and not let anything come in your way.
Soooo I´m finally going to try and get a hold of my business. Since I started it a little more than a year ago, I haven´t needed to account anything yet. I haven´t even sorted out my receipts! But I´ve collected the receipts to be able to sort them later on. I have an ability to wait for the last minute with everything I do. I hate that habit! I even know that once I start working on things that I have waited too long with, I feel so much better than when I sit around feeling stressful because I´m not doing the things I should.
Of course you need a bowl of candy if you´re going to push yourself to do this kind of work!
A great tip is to start putting your receipts in a basket. I bought this one just a while ago and I just put the last receipts in there that I haven´t yet put in the plastic pocket where I keep the rest. I actually think I will enjoy this kind of work. I enjoy most of the work that I do. The problem is to get started!
My summer was very calm. I almost had too much time to spend to be able to enjoy it. But one of the best things that happened was when me and Victoria went to a photo meeting in northern Sweden, arranged by Viktoria Wigenstam, and held a lecture for the participants. It was incredible fun, and everyone was so kind and nice.
Later in the summer I had an exhibition at a company in Gothenburg where I live. They invited me and a class mate to exhibit. They bought one of my photos as well, which was very fun!
Me and Victoria with the awesome class of Fotoskolan Jönköping.
In the beginning of autumn I held a lecture together with Victoria at our old photo school Fotoskolan Jönköping. One whole day with incredible people that love photo made me feel how much I love what I do again. For a while I got my whole passion back. The rest of that week I felt so much alive and filled with gratitude. I felt that I really want to teach more.
In November I visited the Stockholm Photo Fair, which is a big event in Stockholm for photographers. Me and Victoria talked for 20 minutes about five secrets that we believe to be the key to the kind of images we create. We showed examples of different photos, before/after pictures and showed some props that we brought with us. This was wonderful and very inspiring. So cool to talk in front of hundreds of people! You can watch the talk here (in swedish).
Photograph shot in the studio at my school, for The Sleep Project. Model is my class mate Fanny.
After many evenings of thinking I decided to take a break from my school. My dreamschool that I´ve been trying to get accepted to for three years without success, that suddenly offered me a spot last year. This was a very hard decision to take, and I felt very insecure until I finally decided in November to take a break for a year to try and catch up with myself and my path again. But it´s a hard thing with art schools, at least for me. There are so many rules and hidden mindsets that I easily feel a bit suffocated. I haven´t decided yet whether I will continue this year or not. I try to live more and more in the moment and avoid thinking too many years ahead. Now I will try to focus on this spring first.
I was interviewed for a swedish magazine called Forum Gotland, and I got the front page as well. So cool!
The Sleep Project.
Some things that will happen this spring is that I will meet up with Victoria to work with our video course for Moderskeppet. The course is about Staged self portraiture. I really look forward to this! Moderskeppet is a gang of wonderful people and I look forward to work more with them.
In April I will have my first solo show at a cultural house in Gothenburg called Kulturhuset Kåken. They invited me and even offered me the front page of their program. Such an honour! I hope to be able to show some of my photos from The Sleep Project in which I investigate the state between being awake and falling asleep.
Apart from all this I will write on this blog, create new photos for The Sleep Project, take long walks with Tjorven and have lots of coffee. My biggest goal is to live in the moment and stop planning for the future and stop feeling that I have to chase success. Life is here and now. Something else doesn´t exist yet.