Fanny Köhler Alvén fits the description of a multitalented photographer. Her latest series Stolen Moments consists of mostly snap shots taken in Brooklyn, New York during a ten-day stay. And her studio exhibition in Lund is where I came in contact with this young and talented photographer.
– Before I started calling myself photographer, I fell for the medium out of the necessity of capturing and containing the ephemeral. The memories of moments fits easily into the photographic image so photo became a natural choice for me and I started to take a lot of pictures of everything that was in front of me, not looking for a specific motif but rather moments to capture.
– That’s also why I like to work in a snap shot tradition. I want to capture the moments to be able to elicit the feelings and people later on. It also works well with my fascination for unique people.
Tell me about Stolen Moments.
– Because I love taking photos of unique people, New York is a good place to work since it is full of interesting characters especially in rougher areas of the city. People are generally more open in the US as well so it’s easier to photograph people on the street than in, say Sweden. I lived in Brooklyn a few years ago with my girlfriend and when we returned last year I took most of the photos for Stolen Moments.
Most important for me is to capture the spontaneous, the picture of sadness, contemplation or something else in the look of someone on the street. I couldn’t do that if I asked permission first, then that uniqueness would be gone.
– Because I don’t ask permission first, I sometimes feel guilty for steeling pictures of people, but at the same time I leave something of myself in the images as well. Not something physical but because I am the one that chooses motif, lighting and post-process once the photo is taken, there is also a part of me in every image I take. Most important for me is to capture the spontaneous, the picture of sadness, contemplation or something else in the look of someone on the street. I couldn’t do that if I asked permission first, then that uniqueness would be gone.
In contrast to your latest series, your earlier works have been both staged and computerized.
– Yes, my graduation work from Malmö Högskola, where I studied photography, was all based on manipulation and memories. I subjected the images to a temporal impossibility by taking images of me as a child with my parents and let my contemporary me meet myself as a child. The expression in itself might not have been that surrealistic but I found a lot of inspiration on the thinking of the surrealists.
– The weirdest of the images must be the one of my mother holding me as a new-born in a hospital bed where I put myself in the place of my mother. I am holding myself as I have just given birth to myself in an impossible meeting. This series is less straightforward than Stolen Moments because the viewer needs a lot of background information to see the surreal in the photographs.
Who do you rather photograph?
– I get really inspired by unique people with a lot of personality who wears expressions that I find intriguing. I also like taking pictures of older people, my grandma and me had a truly amazing photo session in my studio where she wanted to be photographed nude. We took a lot of pictures and now they are all up on the walls of her house, she was really pleased with them and we had a lot of fun and many laughs during the session.
– Other than that, I can find inspiration from almost anything, a stick or a rainwater pipe or whatever. My brain can cook up ideas from anything really. I think it’s something I have from my girlfriend Elina; she is really good at spinning new ideas from anything or nothing.
What’s next for you now?
– Elina and I have some thoughts on doing a project together as she is a sculptor. We also just finished furnishing our studio and we put a huge old-timey bathtub in there. I’m thinking about doing a photo-shoot in the tub maybe.