Marcus Gustafsson

Gnesta, Sweden

Marcus Gustafsson is a photographer born in Gnesta, Sweden. After graduating from the Mid Sweden University with a degree in photojournalism he is now living and working in Stockholm, Sweden. 

Vibrant days is a photography series by the artists, here is his foreword.

The feeling of having the whole world in your hands and at the same time feel it slip through your fingers. You want to freeze time but all you do is pushing forward. You fill your life with all that it has to offer. But it’s in the moments in between all that when it hits you, the uncertainty of where you are heading. It’s easier to just keep on going, telling yourself that you’re still young.

I was 20 years old when I took the first pictures of this series. These images are of the people around me, my friends. We are searching, wanting to experience. We are drawn to each other. Partying, relationships, boredom, sex, anxiety, love and sorrow. All that we have had the opportunity to experience and also been forced to live through.

What is it that got you into photography, what made you pick up a camera initially and what drives you to keep shooting?

I think I had felt an urge to express myself for a long time, even though I didn’t realized it back then. I grew up with creative people all around me, both my brothers and several friends are musicians and they inspired me, they could express their feelings in music and lyrics, it was raw and I liked it. But I had trouble finding a medium that I felt comfortable with. So I picked up the camera as a teenager, at first just to shoot my friends for the family album. But there something arise, I realized that it was something more to me than just capturing moments. I have always felt lost, uncertain of who I am and what I want.

Photography became a way for me to identify myself with others and finding out things about myself. When it came to decide how to make a living I got the idea that I wanted to be a photojournalist (after a misstep studying economics) and today my everyday job is as a photojournalist and photo editor. One of the few things I took with me from studying photography at the university, that was useful in my own work is the expression “Dig where you stand”.

So here I am ten years later, still shooting what is closest to me and inspires me the most, the people around me, my family and friends. Today my photography is about a constant seeking, a search for a sense of context. In this search I meet people and through these encounters,some sort of identification arises. Meetings that becomes pictures.

How would you describe your shooting style?

My style is simply best explained as point-and-shoot, to a situation that makes me react in some way and feel something. I try not to think too much in the moment when I am shooting. My work is about my life in some way so for me it’s important to focus on living life. I am always in these situations as myself, Marcus and not as a photographer.

It’s important that the camera doesn’t come in the way. I try to leave the thinking process until later when I’m editing the story, it’s there where my work really starts growing into something. I try to make my images be more based on that feeling I felt when I shot the image than what I saw.  I come from a background of documentary photography so of course that is affecting my style of shooting in some way. But my work is not objective in any way, that really doesn’t interest me.

This is my subjective view on situations and people based on me, my thoughts and feelings. My images is as much about me as it’s about the people I shoot…

What medium do you tend to shoot on and why?

All my work is shot on film and mostly black and white, and why? I don’t have an good answer to that. I guess it’s just because I get the end result that I want.

I’m not interested the technical aspect of photography and to be honest I might just be a bit lazy, I have found a way that works for me and I have stuck with it. And since I try not to think while I’m shooting I usually shoot with one of my cheap point-and-shoot cameras, one that is loaded with film at the moment. What’s important is that it fits in a pocket and that I just have to think about when to press the shutter.

Is there anywhere in the world you would love to take pictures in and around, and if so why?

Well, it’s interesting people which inspires me to shoot so the location really doesn’t matter, it can be in my backyard or the most remote places. I need the human connection to pick up my camera. Since my work is based on my own life and my experiences it’s more about where life takes me than me going to places to shoot. Don’t get me wrong I love going to new places, it really inspires me but to just walk around in the streets with my camera doesn’t makes me take good images, I’ve tried it several of times but it really doesn’t works for me.

I need to be in a context with other people to really feel something and make those images. Recently life took me to Cape Verde in some bizarre way. I found myself in a context that I never pictured myself in. That really makes me tick. I haven’t looked at the images yet, so we will have to see what could come out of it.

Do you have any long term goals as a photographer?

Keep shooting. It’s mostly about the personal journey for me, so as long as I keep shooting I will keep discover things about myself and other people. I’m constantly questioning myself and the world around me and it drives me to continue seeking and in some way it’s not about finding any answers in the end. Maybe I’m just a seeker. And of course, I love photobooks so it would be nice to make one of my own in the future.

Do you have any projects lined up in the future as a photographer you would like to share with us?

Right now I’m putting together a zine with images from the years I lived in a suburb to Stockholm called “Högdalen”. And I also continue to work on a bigger project under the title “Vibrant days” (which you can see a part of on my website), the hard question is: when you are documenting your life, when is it finished? And I have some really loose ideas in my head and try to have a few projects going on alongside each other, I rarely shoot focused on a specific project, which might be my main problem? not finishing anything. I shoot whatever I’m exposed to and I try to fit in the images into different projects later on.

Where can we find you online?

For regular updates check out my instagram @marcus_gustafsson. You can also check out my website where you can see a part of my project “Vibrant days” at the moment.