PROfile is a series of interviews with artists and creative souls who have built businesses around their craft and passion. We’ll dig deeper to try and find out everything you could want to know from seasoned pros who have experienced the full gamut of highs and lows that come from running a creative business.
Karin & Frederik are a husband-and-wife team of wedding photographers based in Sweden. They have built a unique business around safeguarding the creative process and their way of life. Here Karin tells us how they have moulded Lönnbacka Photography into a business that lets them live in the here and now.
What was your first ‘proper’ job and how did you land it? Was it what you intended to do as a career?
I wanted to play. I wanted to create. I wanted to love. My parents, however, were too busy creating the life that they thought was the greatest for the whole family. I thought that they missed seeing that I really needed them to hold me tight to be brave enough to follow my heart, so instead I just went along with what my friends were doing and studied economy. It could have been worse, but to me that was like dying a little.
As a paradox, economy is now what I am most disconnected from. I am now climbing that mountain with new eyes. In business it is as important to master the organising part as the artistic part.
I ended up at my uncle’s real estate business for a couple of years as a start of some sort of traditional career. I did enjoy it but I mostly enjoyed taking lovely pictures at people’s homes and gardens, talking to customers, writing lovely words about each unique and special place that was on sale. I wanted the right buyer to find the right place for them. It really was the first seed to see that photography can be magic as a tool. An honest but well-pointed shot could sell a million dollar house very fast.
I thought it was my parents being busy but it was part of the big plan. I had to do it by myself. We all have to do it by ourselves. All our little steps are necessary. The ones that are steep and hard and lead to a change are the most important steps. They are there to take us further and higher.
Outside of the agency window life went on and people were colourful and laughing and I felt as though my life had slowed down too much. It had stopped. The colours were gone. Love came as that powerful energy that swept me away to London. New steps had to be taken to follow a different path. New unique things to live, love and learn.
Has photography always been in your blood?
No. But looking at what is right now and right here has. To ‘paint with light’ is to have the eyes open; to see. I have not only seen the world, but I have felt it too. To have a camera in front of the eye and press the exposure button or never press the button is the same. But if the brain wants to categorize the now it will say that now is always new. But even if it is new it is now. New Now. Now New. Now is now.
It is always the same moment.
When you think about it. Everything is in the now.
Why run away to the next? It will not hold anything better or more beautiful than what the now now holds.
In photography that is the question: Why keep this specific now forever? It is only an old now when you look at it.
Well, sometimes, if the intention is right, it’s lovely to go back to the old now and fall in it again. To keep it. But do not cling to it as a thing. Just to be in it as an energy. That is what I want with my photography.
How did you know you were ready to have your own business?
More and more people asked me to photograph them. It was time to realize that if I wanted to do it full-time I had to ask for money.
Or become an breatharian.
I decided that I wanted to be a photographer.
And I love food.
I have always had the hardest time asking for something. To give comes more naturally.
How did you go about starting your own business? How did you transition from employee to boss? How did you secure your first clients?
I started slow. I did the classic part-time-photography-thing until I did not have time to do anything else. It took a couple of years.
I did not really have the same courage as I have now. I did not know that if I follow my heart and close all the doors that I keep open (just in case…) it will definitely create that space that is needed for something new to be created. I trust the power of life itself now which means that it is always by my side, inside of me, behind. I am stood in front of people and moments that are brought to me by that specific power. Because that is what I have to learn and see. And that is why I am grateful to all that happens, good and bad.
Clients have not been secured. I never thought about it that way. To me life is life even when I work. They come because we have something to learn from each other. I just wait but not like a fisherman with a bait – I wait and truly enjoy life while waiting. And customers comes without me activating any program for it.
What is your typical daily routine like?
I start with meditation and qigong. I want a fresh mind. From planning, to shooting, to editing, to administration, to deliver, to follow up – I want all of the little pieces to be created and have lived in the same energy.
If somewhere along the line I run into frustration, or my energy changes, I want to take responsible action.
Sometimes I don’t realise what is happening until afterwards. I ask myself where it went wrong. I do not want to make mistakes again and again. I know that even if the customer gets a nicely packed bunch of fine art prints and feels very happy and surprised about it, there is an invisible touch that is felt.
If I am always present, there is a magic to editing which is as present as doing administration.
I work in presence.
How do you decide which kit to use? Do you have an allegiance to a particular type of gear?
I am friends with my whole equipment. A couple of years ago I went a lot with the 50mm f/1.2 because it suited my intentions to create dreamy, poetic pictures. Now the lens I use the most is a 85mm. When I am filming I use the tilt/shifts. I am not looking for sharp stuff. I am looking for energy.
Really, I don’t care too much about equipment. But I should. Not only does my insurance company get a little angry, but I have to learn that, really, it is important to take care of everything with love.
Artists and writers often describe the compulsion to work – do you experience an overwhelming desire to pick up your camera and shoot the world around you?
Yes, when the energy is completely magic, healing or just very specific or makes me feel happy and free and me, I know it is to save. It is an overwhelming and focused feeling. I happen to be there to see this and keep this.
Do you ever feel alone in your work?
Never and always. Yes. And No.
In front of other human beings sometimes we do not feel as part of one but separated. That creates the feeling of being alone. It is an illusion of course.
I am never alone. I am held and I am part of something big. We just have to remember it.
You say that ‘Lönnbacka Photography is freedom, quality, peace, love, fine art, healing, meeting, flow and presence.’ Can you explain how this manifests in the way you work and run your business?
I put ‘time for meditation’ in the wedding photography contract.
I look after myself as much as I look after my customers.
I choose the vendors that correspond with my heart.
Matte, soft papers. Fine Art books.
I work with the Beloved Technique and the customers will feel that when we work there is love and peace, healing, meeting, flow and presence. I just live it and that is why it is felt. This is not something that happens in conversation and static photography.
Where do you find inspiration?
Inside myself. In nature. In music. In poetry. In friends’ hearts.
What advice would you give to your 21-year-old self?
1) Be here
2) Be now
3) Start at 1) again
What would you like to be remembered for?
Nothing. But I think it is lovely to think that I will be remembered, not for what I did or did not do, how I looked or any wonders or disasters that happened when I was around, but simply be remembered because I am.
What’s been the best moment of your career so far?
It’s impossible to choose one. I think all moments are the best.
What is the most rewarding part of your job?
What have been the biggest challenges or obstacles you’ve faced in your business and how did you overcome them?
Working with my husband realizing that we walk different paths, both unique and perfect. We can not struggle to change anyone to make a ‘profile’ or ‘style’. It happens as it happens and it is what it is. Instead of holding the wind it has been such a free and peaceful feeling to just follow and fly free.
Sometimes little loops apart.
Although business is important, so is remembering that life is. Love is. And it is a joyful game that we are playing. I love what Eckhart Tolle says: ‘Life is a dancer and you are the dance.’
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
It is not possible to put in words. It is not given to me but born with me. But it is about just being. How simple is life when just being? Does just being not really give you all the important things?
If you could have dinner with any inspiring person (past or present), who would you choose?
I would let life choose. In media there are people called ‘famous people’. In life there are just ‘people’, all with such rich uniqueness that it makes my heart explode when I think about how fantastic it is that we are here. And now. One and one and one and one. All and all and all and all together. Now. Here. Today.
At this very moment.
All images by Lönnbacka Photography.