For some reason this image of mine went utterly viral on Google+ in the last week. I'm by no means the most popular person on that social network (according to the stats I've got about 1300 followers, which is not that impressive given that most of those are probably bots...but that's okay. I enjoy my time there anyway. Hunting and gathering followers has never been my goal on any social network.Read More
No, it's not that kind of poster...I've not been asked to pose for a front-facing and then a side-facing portrait while holding a plate with numbers and letters! It's much better than that!
Like a bolt out of the blue
A few weeks ago I was asked by Lion's Club, a local charity organization if I had any images that they could pick from for the poster for the annual Culture Night event on October 17th. It's a one-night event that I've participated in a few times now, and it's always been a lot of fun to show photos there in front of rather large crowds.
It was very flattering to be asked, and it came totally out of the blue! While it wasn't explicitly stated that it should be pictures from the local area I assumed it ought to be, so I picked ten candidates from around Staffanstorp. Well, at first I picked 5, then I didn't hear anything from the committee for a few weeks, then it turned out that they couldn't agree on one particular image, so just to make their selection process "easier" I sent them 5 more. (They did ask for more candidate pictures, so it was their own "fault"). In the end they picked an image I took a few years ago in the faux-medieval neighborhood "Jakriborg" on a late winter afternoon.
On a poster and in the paper
So here I am now, with the official program that has been delivered to every household in town and I must admit it feels pretty surreal that everyone who lives here (in theory anyway) has looked at a picture of mine! I was interviewed for the program as well, and against all odds I come across as pretty sane and coherent in that interview! Hats off to the reporter for that one!
Here's a link to the actual article (in Swedish only I'm afraid): Spegeln.
My rough translation of the colorful language in the article is below:
Tomas Nilsson: The World Through The Lens
It's late in the winter afternoon and the sun has already descended past the steep roofs and pointy rooftops of Jakriborg. There's still a sleepy twilight, but soon the December darkness will fall upon the houses and alleyways.
The first page of this year's program is a photo taken by Tomas Nilsson. The 42 year old Staffanstorp native is not a newbie to Culture Night; he and his father Ulf Nilsson has participated with photos several times before.
- When Sven Jönsson of the Lions' Club called and asked if I could provide a photo for the poster and cover page I was very surprised and then very happy. I felt very flattered, says Tomas.
Light, shapes and stories
The image of the unmistakable rooftops of Jakriborg is taken at the Christmas Market a few years ago. Among the first things you notice is the benevolent light. Light in particular is something Tomas focuses on in his images. Where others see a thick cloud cover which thankfully lets a few solar rays through, Tomas through his lens sees how heaven opens a small gateway to eternity. The mood borders on the divine.
When others, during the Staffanstorp Motor Show, admire a row of very speedy vehicles in front of Town Hall, the photographer captures a colorful palette sparkling in the June sun.
But it's not all about light; graphical elements are also likely to activate Tomas' shutter button finger.
- I'm often intrigued by shapes, he admits and shows his contribution to the Lions' arts raffle; the curved entryway to the Emporia shopping center, in a tightly cropped and black and white version, for maximized impact.
Meetings, or moments in stories attract Tomas too.
- I don't often do portraits, but I enjoy photographing people.
A young couple in a loving embrace, joy and happiness during last year's Pride parade in Malmö, with a lot more colors than the rainbow.
Tomas sees the world through the lens and it's a beautiful, exciting world full of stories.
The bar is constantly raised
During the month of August Tomas has participated in three photo exhibitions, one together with other photographers in the Malmö Photographic Society, where he is a member of the board, and during the three weeks 3,500 people visited Köpmansmagasinet in Smygehuk to see the photos. Other events with lots of spectators were the one-day events Linan and Planket in Malmö.
- It was a lot of fun, but also a lot of work, Tomas reflects. So during the month of September I sort of lay low and prepare for Culture Night.
Through his father Ulf there's always been lots of photography in the Nilsson household, and Tomas had his hand on cameras early.
- But it was still mostly typical vacation photos. My real interest in photography started around 2000 when I got my first digital camera.
Tomas is an honest photographer who edits sparingly and very rarely adds anything to his photos.
- Light and cropping is what I work with. Cropping is a fantastic tool for making sure you only have exactly what you want within your frame.
After many years, and thousands of photos, he is his own harshest judge. He calls it a necessary survival skill, both not to get utterly swamped with photos as well as for improving his skills. Images that don't stand out or aren't better than average tend to end up in the recycling bin.
Not a gear head
Making a living as a photographer isn't something that the realist Tomas thinks will happen, but selling a picture here and there, that's something he hopes will happen.
- There are interesting online solutions that I'd like to study more. The question though is what images to pick; does the prospective buyer like the same pictures as I do?
Photography can be a expensive hobby. Not so in Tomas' case. Even cameras for a few hundred dollars do an excellent job these days.
- The most important pieces of equipment are your eyes, your brain and the connection between them.
Text by Ann Mellblom (translation by yours truly)