Sweden is a country that I honestly did not know what to expect from. I hadn’t ever studied Sweden much growing up, and about the only thing I knew about it was that my favorite candy apparently came from there (Swedish Fish, amiright?) and that I dated a Swede once. Other than that, nada.
Joel and I arrived in the country just after nightfall, and we were both too tired to think straight. We were staying in an Airbnb that we didn’t really know how to get to, and neither of us had phone service to call the hostess. Stress and exhaustion put us both under a dark cloud as we waited outside the train station in the rain, but eventually we found a way to get ahold of our hostess and she led us to our place.
The next day, we met up with some loyal followers of Joel’s photography, Frank Eickhoff and his 17-year-old daughter Maeva. They had planned to show us a really awesome place in the Swedish countryside, an abandoned 17th century mine that not many people knew about. Of course, we were more than excited to go. We drove for several hours out into the country, talking all the way about photography, life, and inspiration.
We finally arrived at the entrance to the cave, and strapped on our headlamps. Below is a cell phone image of Joel walking across the creaky, muddy boards into the pitch black tunnel. (We were a little nervous about where our new friends had taken us haha…)
Needless to say, what we found inside took our breaths away. It was the most incredible place I had ever seen, and Joel and I probably stood there with our mouths hanging open for a good 10 minutes. The mine was overgrown with moss, stretching up from ground to sky, and there were long boards of wood laid across pools of endlessly deep water. I felt like I had stepped into the mine from Lord of the Rings, and I referred to this place as the “Mines of Moria” from that point on.
Of course I had to have pretty Maeva model for me a little bit in this breathtaking place, and she did a perfect job.
I also couldn’t resist taking some self-portraits here as well.
I really cannot even begin to describe how incredible that place was. It seriously felt like a scene out of a movie, and we explored all afternoon, playing with smokebombs, candles, and light–blasting LOTR music the whole time. I’ll never forget it.
The next day, we had our workshop at Hagaparken in Stockholm! We were really excited because there was a giant circus tent in the middle of the park that we were dying to shoot with. It was the best location for the workshop, and we had so much fun teaching and shooting with the students that day! We had an awesome turnout, and everyone was best of friends by the end of the day.
You can see Joel’s final image from this shoot here.
Beeeestest friend/teaching partner/biggest inspiration/annoying older brother/best human
(Photo by Christina Ramos)
On our last day in Sweden, Joel and I decided to venture into Stockholm to explore a little bit before we caught our train to the airport. We were told about the old town of Stockholm, called Gamla Stan, and we were eager to see it. We dragged our suitcases and all our belongings around the cobbled streets for the better part of an hour, loving every beautiful alleyway and shop we went inside. It was the perfect place to end our time in Sweden, and I’m glad we took the time to see more of this beautiful, historic city.
Joel and I had been trying to figure out in the days leading up to Sweden where we would go between our workshops in Stockholm and Berlin, and we had decided on Amsterdam! He had been once before during the FIFA World Cup Tour, but I had never been. I’d been eager to see the city for yeeeeeaaars, so as soon as Joel suggested it, I jumped at the idea.
So, giving Stockholm a last wave goodbye, we turned our eyes in the direction of Holland, and on to our next stop on this European tour! Keep an eye on this page for my next post about our time in the city of bicycles, coming soon. 🙂