Words by Veronica Mike Solheim
Photography by Jeanette Hägglund
Jeanette Hägglund’s career as an architecture photographer started as a study in geometry, but now she attempts to mentally deconstruct and understand every building, challenging herself with abstraction and colours. Her photographs are often light and bright, dreamy, usually captured during one of her carefully planned travels. Jeanette wishes Scandinavian architecture were more bold and vivid, because she’s often drawn to the surrealism you might find in Spain. In the end, what she’s constantly looking for is the unexpected.
Hi Jeanette. Please tell me how you discovered your love for photography.
I’m a very curious person asking a lot of questions, and I love to explore and I’m an adventurer. There are many ideas passing through my head and sometimes they appear as images. Ever since I got my first camera at the age of eight, I’ve been exploring photography—studying it, creating exhibitions, getting deeper into different projects and aspects of this field. For the past twelve years I’ve done assignments for clients.
When did you get into taking pictures of architecture?
My first architectural shoot was mostly a study in geometry, but the object was a building. It’s a pity I can’t remember the first building I shot in a classical architecture photography way. In the beginning, I played around with angles and perspectives to alienate the viewer. My fascination for abstractions and minimalism hasn’t disappeared over the years.
What do you usually look for in a building?
I’m always interested in understanding the building, to mentally deconstruct it and put it back together. I try to see something in a new way, looking for details that would visualise the whole building in one part. As with the scientific study of linguistic significance within the semantics, I also search for the meaning and how we understand architecture.
Colours are a huge part of your portfolio—bright and clear! Are you particularly fond of buildings with colours or is this a coincidence?
Yes, my work is often bright and clear and that’s a part of my style. But I don’t fancy colourful buildings more than others. I actually see them as more difficult, since the colours can easily take over the picture. I think perhaps colourful buildings are more challenging to shoot. However, challenges don't scare me. I’m very fond of natural concrete non-painted walls.
Please tell me about the series ‘Intersection’. The place and the pictures are unreal! <3
Yes, this place is like a surrealistic dream which invites you to explore layers of rooms, openings, doorways, passages, levels and views. It’s like a labyrinth. I saw so many references and my intuition was to capture a feeling of something indescribable. The series ‘Intersection’ is a study of Ricardo Boffil’s famous Muralla Roja, located in Calpe, Spain. It’s said that the Mural Rosa is a result of the architects being inspired by the Mediterranean tradition of casbah. Various tones of red, blue and violet create visual effects with the surroundings—the landscape, the sky, the ocean and the different light throughout the day.
Do you go hunting for buildings or do you bring the camera along no matter where you go?
I do a lot of research before I go somewhere and know exactly what I shall do. This is especially important when it’s an assignment for a client. But like I’ve said, I love to explore areas and always look for the unexpected. So of course I also just walk around taking in new impressions. This is perhaps why I’m bad at taking vacations, they always turn out to be some kind of work.
Through the lens of a photographer—how would you describe Swedish architecture?
A huge generalisation would be ‘restrained’. You don’t see Spanish surrealism here, or vivid colours or organic shapes like those created by Zaha Hadid. A reason for that is the down-to-earth thinking; functional and practical is more important here. Furthermore, we have a strict city planning that prevents too vivid appearances. The architecture is practical and functional andsupposed to be for everyone, regardless of their needs. It’s minimalistic, sustainable, cautious and restrained, which is good—but from the eye of the photographer, I often miss the extraordinary architecture that isn’t so careful in its expression.
Any place you dream about shooting?
How to keep it down to just one place? There are too many on my list and a lifetime is too short! It would be a dream to explore the west coast of the United States. And another one to study the brutalism in Russia.
First published in Volume Eleven