Photographing the real Sweden
When Ola Möller was leaving for his Argentinean internship he wanted to bring a gift for his host family. One idea he had was to buy a photography book, but all he could find were books that featured a romanticized Sweden, full of red houses and glittering water. He couldn't see himself or "his" Sweden anywhere. And since there were no photo books showcasing Sweden from the perspective of young people, he decided to create one himself.
– Many young people are interpreted by others, says Ola Möller. Press photographers go to the suburbs and have already decided what kind of photos they're going to take. We wanted to put together pictures of Sweden that all young people can recognize.
The result was a book with 64 photos by 44 young photographers between 14 and 32. The motifs range from festivals, childhood, leisure time, life in the suburbs, and it's undoubtedly a multicultural Sweden we can see. In total, about 70 people have worked on the book and it took two years to finalize it.
200 photographers submitted 1500 photos - and 64 images were chosen by the 4 people in the selection group.
– Initially we went with our gut feelings about the pictures, Ola explains. We wanted photos that provoke a reaction, that are original and tell a story aesthetically and that doesn't just portray the same old idea of Sweden. At the same time we considered gender, age, geographic, social and ethnic backgrounds. There were a lot of discussions about which photos to include and which to exclude.
Googled for funding
But before starting work on the book they needed funding. Ola did several internet searches and found the EU program Youth in Action. They applied for and received funding from the Swedish National Board for Youth Affairs, who administers Youth in Action in Sweden, as a so-called Youth Initiative, an independent project done by a group of young people.
Accessible to everyone
The Photo Book About Sweden was given out to libraries, youth centres, politicians, schools and waiting rooms at hospitals and local clinics. It's also available free on the internet.
– I'd rather 10 000 people get to read it than restrict access to the books, says Ola.
He's already considering a follow-up project to the book, despite the fact that his work on it has sometimes meant 16-hour workdays.
– Maybe a video or a podcast - so you can download both sound and video to your phone. You don't want to make a premature decision about your method, but instead let your material shape the result.
- Through Youth Initiatives, young people between 15 and 30 can get funding for a local project. The group must consist of at least four people.
- The themes can be anything art and culture, social exploitation, the environment, youth information, youth policy, to racism.