photography by JÖRGEN AXELVALL



Written by Jörgen Axelvall

Always do shoot (or whatever you do)

I recently went to NYC as a finalist in Vogue x Bottega Veneta New Exposure Award 2013. Now I am back in Tokyo as the international winner.

As a contributor for Odalisque Magazine I was asked to show the work that was exhibited in NYC and also to write something about it myself.

The competition was introduced to me by a friend who coaxed me into sending my portfolio. I had never done anything like that before and didn’t take it very seriously. However, I managed to submit a small portfolio on time. After submitting my portfolio the competition was no longer on my mind. Shooting was.

I always shoot. If not actually pressing the shutter button I constantly take mental pictures. I had a very clear idea of something I wanted to do. Not for money. Not for any competition. I just had the urge to shoot.

I don’t paint or draw or make sculptures or music- at least not yet.
For now I express myself by taking pictures. One night, my friend Alexander, my model and I set out to do a series of images that I had already exposed to my mind more than once. It was perfect; just what I wanted. It was a happy night-and easy.

After some sleep I started editing and soon I had a series of 20 images that all had what I was looking for.
Just as I felt finished editing and color correcting I got an email from the people at Vogue. They liked my portfolio very much and where happy to announce that I was selected as a finalist.

For the next step they wanted to see 4-6 images in a series that were telling a story-
Much the way most editorials do in fashion magazines.

As I was reading the email, my newly finished project was also on the computer screen. I saw Vogue and Bottega Veneta, both names that say fashion in a pretty big way, but there was no mention that the next submission must be fashion related. I figured I will show them what I just had done.

With some more editing, and I had the required 6 images. Easy.

Along with the pictures they also wanted a paragraph describing my concept.
I had known for a very long time what my concept was. Putting it into words was just a matter of minutes. Easy.

Only a short time later the next email from Vogue invited me to come to NYC, where my images would be exhibited together with all the images of the other finalists.
I am never too busy to travel and I was certainly not going to pass on a free trip to my old home town, and the chance to see some of my dearest friends.

Off I went and the rest is, as they say, history.

Oh, and the concept of my story.
Well this is what I wrote:

I live in a big city
the biggest in the world by some measure
I am a foreigner here
very much so
at times I feel trapped, alienated and lonely
amongst the millions of people calling this their home

These images were all photographed in central Tokyo
not far from my home in Shibuya
at my sanctuaries
where I find peace