Fashion and style take on many forms and one of them is photography especially that of Björn Wallander as he proves that not only is the skill an art form but photography is indeed a matter of fashion and style. Mr. Wallander focuses on portraits and interiors; portraits of the notable or famous and interiors which are wide and varied in style but exude extraordinary taste and style. It is most apparent to these eyes that Wallander has the mindset of an artist and not just of a photographer albeit with an impeccable fashion sense. Please take note of the symmetry of his work and the exact placement of him and his camera for it is those elements that seal the deal
Jeremiah Goodman or Alexandre Serebriakoff are names that come to mind when viewing the work of Björn Wallander as they were the great watercolorists/illustrators/visual diarists who recorded some of the great parties and fabulous interiors of the 20h century and their work seems to have influenced that of Wallander.
In today’s fashion or style photography so much seems to be an instamatic moment or a snapshot taken on a brownie rather than an image that speaks to the viewer. Wallander’s work speaks to me loudly and if a photo is worth one thousand words then each image of his is worth a few chapters. With all that being said it is now time to learn something about Björn Wallander in his own words so listen in on what he has to say.
Jeffrey Felner: If you could select any subject or any place and collaborate; who or what would that be and why?
Björn Wallander: If it’s an interior shoot with an architect I would say Axel Vervoordt. He has an incredible sense of style, color and composition.
JF: If you could invite any 5 people to dinner or on a yacht for a Mediterranean cruise, who would they be and why?
BW: Aung San Suu Kyi - Because of everything she has been standing so strong for over so many years.
Patti Smith - For her being such an inspiring and original person. To my mind she’s what a New Yorker is in many ways and a big reason why I wanted to live here. I also think she would have a great input with the other guests.
Nicholas Kristof - For all the work he has done for women’s rights and human rights. Especially in Asia. One of the best and most honest journalists working today I think.
Angelina Jolie and Sean Penn - Both because of how they use their success to push for so many issues around the world and their efforts to make a difference.
I think it would be an exceptionally interesting discussion around the table. I really admire all of them and I think they would also admire each other.
JF: So much of your work takes on an almost still life or painterly feeling; how involved are you with staging, styling etc. and if you could do over any of them which would it be and why? It’s hard to ignore the perfect composition/framing of each subject no matter if interior or portraits.
BW: I’m very involved, but it is a total team effort between the editor, stylist, the assistant and myself. We all make sure everything is where it should be in the picture. I appreciate that my assistant usually catches things that the stylist or I didn’t see.In some cases when I work without anyone else and it’s about documenting a place as it is, I depend on just placing the camera in the right place and catch the light at the right time. On those shoots I really enjoy working on film. After I take the picture there is no way to go back and look at details. It makes it easier to focus on the next picture. The same when I travel. I like taking a picture and not looking at it until I get the film back from the lab.
I can’t help myself, even when I don’t have a camera in my hand I always look at perspectives and how it changes when I move.
I never think about doing a job over again. I’m always thinking about the next shoot.
JF: Your images are a frozen moment in time. Can you speak to who or what was your favorite assignment and why?
BW: Such a hard thing to pick. One of the favorites was the shoot at the Gritti Palace. I was hired by Architectural Digest and they had exclusive rights to publish the hotel. The hotel had gone through a major renovation and it is one of the very old school hotels still around. I was working with Howard Christian from AD. He has such an amazing eye for details and appreciation for design history. At the time it was maybe my most prestigious shoot.
JF: Where do you see yourself in 5 years and if you could map your trajectory, what would it be and why?
BW: I hope doing more of what I’m doing now.