PHOTOGRAPHER ANNICA EKLUND ON
THE IMPORTANCE OF NOT PLAYING SAFE
”Photography is quite intimate, you get very close to the the subject your are portraying, whether it’s a person or a place”, says Annica Eklund, who combines her role as photographer with being CEO of the flooring brand Bolon. “I have always been very curious and this has pushed me in many different directions. But photography has stayed with me. I think it goes well with my personality, exploring new things.”
Eklund’s interest in photography started when she was young and still at school, but became more prominent when she and her sister took over Bolon from their parents in 2003. Since then, they have transformed the company from a vinyl camping-rug company into an innovative lifestyle brand that works with leading international designers. For Eklund photography became a way to explore her creativity “off work” - a place where she could fill up with inspiration and energy. “When I spent time photographing, time ceased to exist. There were no musts, no deadlines, just me and the camera, and this was so valuable,” Eklund explains.
Hanna Nova Beatrice
A campaign for Bolon 2019, with a bit of technical challenges. This image required 72 layers to make the model “fly”.
Today she can combine her role as a photographer with her work as creative director, shooting many of the innovative campaigns for Bolon, where she likes to push limits and add colourful twists. Close to her home she has a photo studio in a creative space shared with Hobnob journal, run by her daughter Linn Eklund and Fanny Ekstrand. As a photographer she works with a wide array of assignments; it could be a self initiated shoot with horses on a range, a campaign for a fashion brand or new images for the Italian vineyard Villa La Madonna that she owns with her sister. Eklund recently had an exhibition in a Stockholm restaurant and when we speak she is just about to send off work bought by another premium restaurant in Sweden.
“I wouldn’t say I have a set style; just like I fluctuate in the way I dress and move between different styles depending on mood and situation, I like to move between different expressions in my photography work. I like fashion photography, documentary photography and portraiture. I think the common thread is that I like to capture a bit of magic, a sense of wonder, and push boundaries”, she says.
Annica staged a shoot with Swedish glass designer Ingegerd Råman, trend analyst Cay Bond and designer Pia Wallén at Drottningholm Palace in Stockholm.
TNE What would you say is important in your work?
AE When you try new things, you have to be quite fearless. You have to dare to push yourself and dare to fail. I have never been scared of trying new things and this have been a great asset in life, work and photography. I push to make things happen and I’m not scared to ask questions. I don’t mind walking up to a stranger to ask if I can photograph him or her. The images of design icons Pia Wallén and Ingegerd Råman, and the journalist Cay Bond, started with me inviting them for breakfast and later we did a beautiful photo shoot dressing up at Drottningsholm Palace in Stockholm. None of us knew each other super well before the shoot, but the images are quite intimate.
TNE You spend a lot of time with a camera close by. Why has this become so important?
AE It gives me so much back. Spending time alone with my camera almost work as a refill. It gives me a lot of energy and I need this time and space. It also keeps me stimulated. It has become a very natural part of my family life too, as my daughter Linn works with fashion, and runs the online journal Hobnob. I often photograph her; she loves posing. Then we travel a lot, the whole family - my mum, my sister, our kids - and I love documenting these moments.
TNE What do you like to capture in your self initiated shoots?
AE Many of the shoots I do for myself are based on an idea I can’t let go of. It may be a place I want to visit, or a person I’d like to portray. You get close to people in the creative room and that is a strong driving force. But it can also be very spontaneous; I visit a space I fall in love with, I call to see if I can do a shoot there and within 24 hours I am there with a team of ballet dancers. This is when magic happens.
”When you try new things, you have to be quite fearless. You have to dare to push yourself and dare to fail. I have never been scared of trying new things and this have been a great asset in life, work and photography. I push to make things happen and I’m not scared to ask questions. I don’t mind walking up to a stranger to ask if I can photograph him or her. ”
Analogue image for Hobnob, shot in Torekov. Annica Eklund often photographs her daughter Linn Eklund, whom she also shares a studio with.
Self initiated work on a horse farm as a way to push creativity.
Campaign for Bik Bok with Hobnob, photographed in Zermatt. Linn Eklund and Fanny Ekstrand of Hobknob posing.
Camping for Bolon 2020, communicating their work with recycling.