Swedish photographer Mikael Johansson
Swedish photographer Mikael Johansson was born and raised in the big small-town of Skövde, Sweden where he lived until the age of 20. That is when he decided to pack his bags and go to England to attend Art School in the north of England where he studied art for a couple of years until he made his way down to London. Mikael is now currently based in London but travels a lot for work as a full time photographer, and has recently found himself in New York, Los Angeles, Stockholm, Barcelona and Portugal.
What´s your background within photography?
My dad always had an old analog camera around and my curiosity for the camera as a medium drew me into photography. Later on my first on hand experience with photography was flicking through skateboard magazines as a kid, then trying to replicate some of the shots with my friends when we were out skateboarding. I had a few analogue cameras but I was quite absent-minded and distracted with playing music (also being a teenager in general)… so it wasn’t until I went to University I realised I could pursue a career in photography. When I moved to London I decided to focus all my energy on photography and that pretty much took me to where I am today. Now I’m freelancing in Europe and working together with my agency who represents me in America.
Do you work for any clients in particular on a regular basis?
I shoot a lot of ecommerce and editorial content for different brands at the moment so I have a handful of clients I work with in London on a regular basis like Asos, Amazon and the Arcadia Group. Then I work together with production agencies from time to time to shoot for brands like AMI Paris and DKNY. I branch out to do a bit of everything but most of my paid work is fashion related.
How did you end up with representation in New York?
It’s all a bit of a mix in-between hard work and being at the right place at the right time. To be frank, sadly it’s usually about Who you know and not What you know.
What equipment do you use?
For commercial jobs I usually shoot digital with a Canon 5D (or similar) and a couple of prime lenses. When it comes to my personal work or editorial shoots it can be a plethora of analog cameras and mixtures of films. I shoot a lot with my Pentax 6x7 and a Voigtländer Bessa 35mm Rangefinder.
What´s your most memorable job up to date?
I like portraying and working with people that aren’t used to be in front of the camera, although it can be quite the challenge, for me it becomes more about the people and the play of objectivity/subjectivity that way. I just printed a limited edition zine/book based on one of my portrait projects and I’ve had the habit recently of shooting a lot of candid casting portraits with an old point and shoot camera. I tried to de-objectify the model by subjectively portraying who hen really are. Random projects like these are sometimes what I enjoy working on the most.
What is your ultimate dream job?
I always been a fan of skateboarding/street culture and with the current trends in fashion this is something I’d love to mix together a bit more with my work. I have always been curious about people, different individuals fascinate and inspire me, so I just hope that I get to continue working with people and meet all these interesting personalities along the way. As long as I can keep myself surrounded by people that inspire me I’m pretty happy.
How do you enjoy spending your time off?
A day in the life off for me differs quite a lot, even on days I’m not in a studio or on a shoot I tend to be working on something. I do go to a lot of galleries/exhibitions, different gigs etc., I do a bit of yoga and not too long ago decided that meditation might be a good idea. I’m not very spiritual but it’s still a pretty nice way to wind down and clear the mind.
Can you tell us something people don't know about you?
Half of the time I have no idea what I’m doing but 98% of the time that works out pretty well.
You travel quite a bit! Do you have any great tips on Nordic gems abroad?
Oh, in Los Angeles there’s a well-known Swedish Coffee Shop called ilCaffé worth checking out. When it comes to New York go out to Williamsburg (home of the Scandinavians) and get breakfast at the Scandinavian bakery called Bakeri, then get a coffee and a cinnamon roll a few blocks down at the local Swedish-style coffee house Konditori. When it comes to London Fabrique Bakery in Hoxton has good coffee and pastries but Scandinavian Kitchen makes a better semla (sorry guys). Then definitely a shout out to the downstairs candle lit metal bar at Bröderna Olssons’ Garlic & Shots in Soho, London.
What are your favourite things about Sweden?
My friends and family, they are all pretty special. Also the fact that Sweden is a very progressive country when it comes to fundamental human rights like equality, healthcare and education, although I’ve seen cases of this not working quite as well as I’d like. I just hope that we can go and invent a future based on a philosophy for the common good so we can to stay on the top of countries that lead by example.