Q & A (October 2006)
Hi, Lina. To start, would you tell us a little bit about yourself?
I am 25 years old, and I was born in Sweden but am currently living in London and have done so on and off for the past five years.
What started you off in photography?
My dad was taking a lot of pictures of us as kids and I used to always want to borrow his camera. There are a few pictures in our family albums of my family's heads and a great space of nothing above them. When I turned 10 I got my own camera and finished two rolls of film that same day. Since then I have just kept doing it. It comes very natural to me. Probably more so than brushing my hair!
Can you remember the first photographs that impressed you?
We had a photobook at home that used to fascinate me. It's by photographer Åke Hedström and called 'Emma'. It's a father's photographs of his very allergic daughter. She dies after eating a brazilnut. Extremely sad but amazing photography.
Name a favourite photographer - and what do you like about their images.
I don't actually have a favourite photographer. I like quite a few but I get more inspiration from painters like Egon Schiele. I love his work for leaving me feeling slightly uncomfortable. And also because it feels very real and intimate.
Was there a defining moment in your own photography - and, if so, what was it?
Haha, yes. I was living in Marble Arch years ago and it was late at night and me and my friend were slightly drunk. I managed to convince her to get in to the bath for me, on the condition that I gave her three cigarettes. I'm not a smoker so I had to run outside and stop the first guy on the street and get them from him. These photos are still some of my favourite ones. Thank you Ann-Marie.
How often do you take photos?
Sometimes lots every day, but sometimes not at all for a few months. I never force myself to do it as it's important to me that I don't ever feel like it's a chore.
Your photography appears very personal in both subject and in your way of looking at people and things. Describe how you work and what are you aiming for?
I tend not to think too much about what I am doing, if I see something that interests me I shoot it. I like bringing my camera into situations people wouldn't normally bring a camera. And I like showing people in moments and moods they wouldn't show out in public.
The people in your photos seem to trust you when you photograph them - how do you make them relax for you?
I usually shoot people that I know pretty well and therefore already have developed a trusting relationship with. It's important for me that they can feel relaxed, but also that I can!
You often work with minimal available light - such as that from a fridge or from candles, the glow of a TV screen or from streetlight entering a room - what appeals to you about shooting using these sources?
I only ever work with light sources that exists in our everyday life and never use my flash. I am very interested in light of every form, and how it can change a place, a situation, a mood or even an object.
You take many shots inside bathrooms - what is it about that space that you like?
I have been asking myself this question. I think it is primarily because it's one of the few places in the world that is private. It's not a place where you'd let anyone else in, apart from maybe the people closest to you.
Is the lock actually missing on your bathroom door? : )
Haha, no! I don't want anyone to be able to just walk in on me:-)
The images often suggest narratives. They hint at relationships and isolation - often with you the photographer both as part of those scenarios and as an intimate observer. Can you talk about this?
Most of my photos are of real scenarios with real people whom I have got a real relationship with. So it's basically moments of mine and their life but very much from my own viewpoint.
If you could photograph anyone for a day - including in their bathroom - who would it be? : )
My granddad. He's great and goes swimming outdoors in Sweden pretty much no matter what temperature it is out.
What do your family and friends think of your photos?
These are my dad's words: 'There is a certain mood in all of them, they are timeless and it feels as if everything is standing still in them.'
Can you imagine doing commerical photography of any kind?
Not today, no.
Is there a magazine or newspaper you would like to shoot for?
Yes there are loads, I like 'Exit', for example.
What would your ideal lifestyle be?
It would be one where I can wake up everyday and do something that I am passionate about or if I am in that mood - go back to sleep.
Cheers, Lina and best wishes with your photography.
Lina is a Swedish photographer based in London. She has directed two music videos for the London band Lecain. In 2005 she had an exhibition at Pictura Gallery in Lund and was part of the group show 'Urban Space Sense of Place' at Saatchi and Saatchi, London 2004.