In Sweden without a camera

There have been many, many times over the last seven or eight years when I have been unable to take photographs, despite the voice in my head telling me that I should be. Call it writers block if you like – I often do. I have always been fairly relaxed about it though (despite the guilt I felt) and known deep down that it would pass. That it was not the end of the world even if, for example, I should really have more portraits of my boys as they grow up. Sometimes, I kept telling myself, it is more important to relish and enjoy the moment, the company or the location without worrying about taking photographs. But, the voice kept telling me, as a photographer you should have your camera with you at all times, you should be unable to be without it.

This conflict within me vanished in July this year.

I was working on the Swedish Open as a cameraman in Stockholm and even if the hours are always long and the days tiring when doing the golf, it is always worth making the effort to leave the hotel room and visit your surroundings. Sometimes, when the hotel is on the motorway or an industrial estate the furthest you get is the nearest bar which, unfortunately, is often in the hotel lobby. But this trip was always going to be different. Stockholm is stunning, the hotel was an easy bus ride from an underground station and, most importantly, Björn lives there. I first met Björn in 2009 at Val and Paolo’s wedding. We were Val’s maids of honour as we had both known her for years and between us had, though I say so myself, been there (as she had been for us) through the good times as well as the bad. Somehow though, Björn and I had never actually met each other until the wedding. We gelled immediately.

We met up every night while I was in Stockholm but the highlight for me was when we went wild swimming. The little and by now slightly hoarse voice within my head was, as usual telling me I should have brought my camera with me. The fact that in order to get to Björn’s (top secret) location by the lake we had to walk for at least half an hour through some beautiful woodland just fuelled it further. But I was used to hearing it and, as was so often case, I was easily ignoring it.

When we reached the edge of the lake we sat on the rocks, listening to the water as the owls woke behind us and the sun fell out of the sky and into the lake we were about to enter. The water was so fresh, cool, clean and invigorating it lifts my spirits even now to just think about being in it. It was nothing short of the perfect time and place – one of those moments when you realise that all is well with your life and you are where you are meant to be on your journey.

And finally the voice in my head had gone quiet, no longer questioning me or doubting my decisions. The gentle nagging had disappeared and the doubts buried deep within me that I had lived with for so long, were silenced. It had finally been proved wrong, not only by the beauty of our surroundings but by the beauty of the moment and the company I was with – all things a camera could never have captured, indeed, things a camera would have spoilt.

I had been right all along and now there was nothing within me that could doubt me, contradict me or argue with me – as a photographer I did not have to have my camera with me at all times. I was now free to live parts of my life without it and most importantly I was free to do so without feeling any guilt.

There are some moments that will always live more strongly within my memory without the aid of a camera, imprinted permanently on my mind’s eye, not on film. The peace within has continued and ironically I have been taking more photographs now that ever before.

Thank you Björn.

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