“I always wanted photos to evoke a sense of recognition in the viewer instead of distance from the subject. To do this I want my photos to capture moments and people in ways that are universal. At the same time as they tell you something new. Also I think it is necessary to work without too much distorting lenses and editing.”
Linda Forsell (born in 1982) is a Swedish photojournalist currently based in New York. She holds a bachelor degree in photojournalism from Mid Sweden University in Sundsvall. She works both on shorter assignments and longterm projects. Among her clients are newspapers and magazines like The New Yorker, Svenska Dagbladet, and Focus.
Together with Karin Alfredsson and Kerstin Weigl, Linda Forsell has traveled to ten different countries, documenting violence against women in the world which recently resulted in the project “Cause of Death: Woman”.
The project Life’s a blast (2012) from Israel and Palestine, turned into a book in 2012 and at the same time as was exhibited in Stockholm, Sweden. The series was one of the finalists of Magnum Expression Award in 2010.
Interview with Linda Forsell
Linda, what was your first camera and photographic experience?
I don’t remember! I was probably tiny.
Why did you become a photographer?
Coincidence. I started going to a photography class because there was a cute guy attending it. I was eighteen then. He quit but I continued and soon enough I realized that it was a way for me to be allowed to work creatively, to always continue to learn new things and to convey things to others.
What does photography mean to you?
If it’s done well it is a way to convey something that can’t be said in words to other people.
Which photographer has inspired you most and why?
I don’t have one in particular, but I can mention a few. I like Lauren Greenfield a lot. I think she captures larger phenomenon in a very down to earth way. I also like Paolo Woods work because it is very honest and creatively shot.
How would you describe your photographic style and creative process?
The creative process varies. A lot. But it is always painful at some point, because you have to make difficult choices. My style, I always wanted photos to evoke a sense of recognition in the viewer instead of distance from the subject. To do this I want my photos to capture moments and people in ways that are universal. At the same time as they tell you something new. Also I think it is necessary to work without too much distorting lenses and editing.
What’s important in order to develop an own photographic style and how did you achieve it?
I guess to dare to do what you like and care about is important, without caring about what others will think of it. Naturally you can still be inspired by others, but there’s a huge difference between that and trying to copy others.
What do you consider to be the axis of your work – technically and conceptually?
Color photography, not too much wide-angle. Mostly around 50 mm. I edit quite a bit, but with the intention to keep a sense of reality. But this is not too important to me. The important thing is to use a method that allows me to be flexible and capture moments. My conceptuality follows my ideas about the style I have. I also try to make the concept match the subject. For my “Israel and Palestine work” the square format felt perfect since the situation is so locked.
What qualities does a good photographer need?
Depends completely on which type of photography you wish to do. For a photojournalist I believe patience, thoroughness, and a great deal of curiosity. You also need to be socially adaptable and accept all sorts of different situations and problems.
Naturally you also need to be able to have an eye for imagery, and know the technical stuff.
What does a photo need to be a great photo in your eyes?
One that moves me, makes me think or feel. As simple as that, but it is quite rare.
Where do you draw inspiration from for your photographic projects?
Anything! Music. Society. People. Other photographers. What makes me feel.
What kind of photography equipment and photographic supplies do you use?
See the question about technicality and conceptuality.
What’s your favorite website on photography?
Difficult. I look at many and can’t name one. It varies.
What photography book would you recommend?
Sorry, can’t help you there. It was too long since I read one. And mainly I recommend to just try different photography.
Linda Forsell, which advice would you give someone who wants to become a professional photographer?
Again, this depends on within which field. But if we’re talking photojournalism, try to be and intern for a while, maybe through a school. Read and look at a lot of photography and journalism. Find stories and just do them and find someone to help you look at the result. It is far from impossible but you might have to fight for it.