Photographer Isabella Ståhl
Isabella Ståhl is born and raised in the countryside of northern Sweden, and it is also where she is currently based. She has been back and forth for a while, living in places such as Oslo, Barcelona, Paris, Berlin and New York, where she graduated in 2013 from the International Centre of Photography, and she’s not quite sure how long she will stay in the north for, this time around. Not surprisingly, Isabella has won several awards and also has her work extensively exhibited across the world, mainly around Europe and The U.S. We are not surprised that she´s having a hard time settling down!
How do you start your day?
I wake my dog up (she loves to sleep in) and she gives me lots of kisses and love. It's the perfect way to start the day because you immediately get in a good mood! Then I have breakfast and we go for a walk.
When and how did you start out as a photographer?
I guess it's always been with me. I know my dad took a lot of pictures when I was a kid and he was in photography school at some point. When I was 15 I moved to Stockholm to attend Media High School and we got to try all these different subjects like film, radio, web design and so on. Photography was what I felt most drawn to. I started to spend a lot of time in the dark room. I wasn't that good at that point, but I had a teacher that told me I had something to work with and I guess later on, when I had a break from photography for a few years, I remembered her saying that and I thought, maybe that's something I could do full time. So I got myself a point-and-shoot, started shooting again and applied to photography schools.
Are you a full time photographer or do you do anything else on the side?
I am mainly a full time photographer but for the past few months I've had another job, partly to save up money but also because I felt the need of a brake. I do that sometimes. Get a regular job to understand that photography is really what I want to do, because I get super bored having a 9-5 job. So when I quit I appreciate being a photographer again. I very much look forward to shooting and working full time as a photographer again from the beginning of July.
What equipment do you use?
I have a Canon MarkII with several lenses. I really need to get a new camera body though! I also have a Mamaya645, an Olympus Mjuii and a FujiX100.
What has been your favourite shoot up to date?
I really don't have a favourite shoot so I couldn't tell. I enjoy being on hikes or driving around with my car to see what I stumble upon. Mostly in the early mornings or sunset. I love shooting horses and other animals.
What’s key in taking a great picture?
I think the passion that lies beneath is what's most important. If you shoot something you're really excited about it will probably turn out good. Also, factors like the light and how the sun stands and so on are obviously very important. Timing is everything.
What other photographers do you admire?
I admire photographers that work hard and never give up. Photographers that do what they love, shoot what they are interested in, get their work out there and stay focuses. I like to find photographers that have a specific style; when you see one of their photos you can immediately tell who the author is.
Where in Sweden would you recommend people to travel?
It really depends on what you are interested in. If you like wide landscapes, open fields and being close to the ocean Skåne is the perfect place. The island Öland is also super beautiful at summertime, as well as Gotland. Definitely also go to the very north of Sweden, Kiruna and above. With the mountains and the lack of urbanization it's a lonely, powerful and really stunning place to visit.
Any tips on what to do and see?
There are tons of things to do. Swim in secret lakes, pick wild strawberries or blueberries in the woods, ride on empty wide foggy fields in the morning sun, go explore the mountains and maybe sleep in a tent just to be out in the wilderness.
Do you have a favourite Nordic destination?
It´s a hard pick! Northern Norway is obviously amazing. Denmark has great beaches by the ocean and the countryside of Finland is fantastic. Sweden at summertime is great. I would love to visit Iceland where I've never been so maybe that would be my pick, if not all of them.
What are your future dreams?
I want to live an adventurous and alternately lifestyle with my dog by my side. I want to travel and see new places. I don't have to be super rich but I don't want to struggle. I want to be close to nature but also at times enjoy city life. I want to feel free and alive, all the time.
What motto do you live by?
Keep going and never give up. Fight for your dreams, follow your heart and care less about what society tells you to do.
To see more of Isabella and her work, visit her website www.isabellastahl.com