Home : Interviews Photography : Linn Arvidsson
Can you tell us about your childhood and how did you incline towards photography?
I grew up in Forshaga, a small village in the west of Sweden in a family with lots of love and lots of laughter. My father had been a keen amateur photographer in his youth but apart from the occasional holiday snap, photography was not very present in our family. When I graduated I was given my first SLR and I discovered I had a talent for capturing emotions ‘on film’. I have never been able to draw but I could create the images I wanted through the camera.
We are more interested in knowing the mental process behind the gallery called “When the last man has left”.
The images to the gallery were shot only a short distance from my home. When I first saw the old abandoned industrial site and its buildings the impression on me was almost physical. I know I had to photograph this place before it vanished. When I walked through the site I was stricken by the fact that so much was left unfinished, just as had everybody who used to occupy it suddenly vanished. The name of the gallery was born there and then. The buildings did the rest.
“When the last man has left”, the gallery has deep sad tone on the photograph. How did you achieve this effect?
The most important part of the effect is the structure of the buildings themselves. They are strong graphic elements. The second part is of course the light. All images are taken late afternoon when the light has taken on a warm colour. The rest is post processing. I had a vision of what I wanted to achieve and didn’t stop until the image on the screen matched my inner vision.
You photography seems to convey a different kind of message almost with every image. Do you intentionally do this?
I try not to think so much upon what messages or what impressions my images will convey in the end. I simply try to be true to what I see and what I interpret. I like to photograph in very different surroundings and in very different conditions. Commercially it would probably be wiser to stick to one theme but this way keeps me a happy photographer.
“When the last man has left” is poetry on what is left over. Could you share what kind of response you receive with those photographs?
What I was surprised about in the beginning was how strongly the photographs seemed to affect people. It seems that regardless if you have a history as an industrial worker or as a bank clerk you can identify yourself in the emotion of abandonment.
A rather unexpected bonus is also to discover the amounts of technical knowledge out there. I see structures and emotions but don’t know much about what exactly each piece of machinery I photograph actually do, or rather used to do. But there are a lot of people who do know about these things and who will tell you. The details you learn are simply fascinating.
How much emphasise you give to the gears and image editing tools in photography?
I use my trusted Canon DSLR and the lenses I have had for years. If I encounter something that I absolutely have to photograph and am unprepared I use whatever is present, including my mobile phone. That is, I do not think about the gears a lot and I find it a bit depressing that we photographers tent to talk so much about gear and so little about ideas when we meet. I edit all my images in Photoshop. It is my darkroom but without the chemicals.
Do you think that it’s a unique perspective that decides your style of photography or the skill?
It is certainly the perspective that creates the basics for the style. I have a mental picture of what the finished product should be like. The skill is what transforms that picture into something that other people can see.
What would be your words of wisdom for the budding photographers?
Never be afraid to try something you have never tried before. The worst that could happen is that you end up with a bunch of crappy images. So what? Delete them and move on. That by the way leads me into the second piece of advice I would like to give, never be afraid to use the delete button (or throw away the negatives if you shoot analogue). Keep the good images. Forget about the rest and keep never stop developing.