In May I was in Göteborg, my home city in Sweden. I planned to take some new headshots with photographer Katja Rangstam who I’ve known for over 20 years.
We had a short discussion about what kind of portrait to shoot: studio, outdoor, business style, traditional, relaxed, working, glamorous or lifestyle.
There are so many interesting ways of using the art of photography and I felt a bit indecisive. I spent the night before the photo shoot lying in my bed thinking about the day to come. I had a dentist appointment first thing in the morning and then after that I was going to the studio to meet Katja. I prayed quietly that I had been treating my teeth well and that my visit to the dentist would be a quick one.
Just before I fell asleep I thought about my heart. Maybe I could ask Katja to photograph my heart? Is that possible? Or should I tell her to capture my soul? Is it possible to capture the character of a human’s heart or soul?
The next morning I packed my bag, I brought a few dresses with me and I put on my favourite silver earrings (my friend Maria gave them to me as a birthday present a few years ago). Every time I wear them I get plenty of compliments, so those were the earrings I wanted to wear that day.
I drove to my dentist. I was lucky. I was in and out in 20 minutes. Then I started to drive towards Kungälv, a city with one of the biggest bakeries in Sweden, Göteborg Kex.
I met Katja in her studio which is situated in a lovely old building in the town centre. I asked her what kind of photos she had in mind. She said: ‘You have a lot of professional business photos; maybe we should go for a series of outdoor portraits that are more natural.’ I told her about my idea of capturing my heart in a simple and clear way that would reveal who I am and what I stand for. Katja didn’t say yes or no to my idea about capturing my heart.
We both grew up with the sea a few minutes from our houses in the western part of Göteborg. For me, sea, water and endless views over the horizon mean freedom. I love it when the wind plays with my hair and the smell of salt in the air tickles my soul. Even when you go for a swim the scary seaweeds makes me feel fully alive. Being a west coast girl is something special. If you are one as well then I am sure you know what I mean.
In the studio I found a knitted blanket that Katja’s mother-in-law had found in a shop and we brought that with us. It was very heavy and huge. It reminded me of my paternal grandmother Anna-Lisa. She used to knit similar blankets and in my parents’ home there are several of them.
On our way out I went to a coffee shop and bought a coffee and two cinnamon buns. In Sweden we do something called ‘having a fika’, which simply means drinking coffee, tea or whatever you fancy and having a cinnamon bun or cookie – actually, anything sweet will do. I thought that for the camera to be able to truly capture my heart I needed a cinnamon bun and a cup of coffee. It’s never a bad time for a fika.
We drove out towards Marstrand and stopped just a mile away from the ferry and found a good spot for the portraits.
We walked down towards the water. I felt a bit nervous and intimidated. We found a cliff where I sat down and Katja started shooting.
It was not sunny, but it was very bright and I couldn’t help squinting. Katja changed her lens and then we continued shooting.
Close up. Very close up. Me and a swan in the background. New background. With the knitted colourful blanket. Standing up. Sitting down.
We must have taken a few hundred photos.
That was it, we were done.
Next up was lunch at Marstrands Havshotell.
You’ve just read the story of how you can photograph a human’s heart. I am very happy with the result it makes me feel grounded in myself and my background.
With a cool photographer, the sea, the rocks and the amazing Swedish western coastline you get great results.
When I posted one of the pics on Facebook and said that we had tried to capture my heart, lots of people said they could see it and could see me, who I am and what I stand for in the photo.
Please take a look at my new portraits. I hope they show you a bit more of who I am and what my heart looks like.
Much love to Katja for being so amazing to work with.
PS. There has been minimal retouching of the photographs. They are as natural and real as they can be.