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Leif Sandberg: “Photobook communicates my fears for panic and dying, it also shows the happiness of a long relationship”

KT: How did you get into photography? When/what was your first encounter with photography considering you became an art photographer only at the age of 64?

LS: Photography and other image-based art have been on my mind since the teens. I did not consider a career in art but studied art history and philosophy at a mature age. The turning point came when after cancer surgery I felt like getting a second chance in life and decided to start a photo project, which later became Ending.

 

KT: In your powerful photo book ‘ENDiNG’, published by Bœcker Books, you have used photography as a medium to express your inner self, to understand the value of life through your emotional endeavour after a cancer scare. What do you like about the medium of photography in book format? What was the process of editing such intensely intimate and personal work?

LS: I believe the book format is one of the best ways to present photography. An exhibition can be powerful but for how long are you looking at each image and how many times? The book is there for your convenience whenever you like and can be distributed quite easily. When I get a new photo book I go through it a couple of times every day for a week and each time I see new things.  Working with the Ending book and doing the sequencing I searched for a rhythm that conveyed my feelings for the subject matter. I like to be surprised when turning a page and try to avoid repetition.  Although photobook communicates my fears for panic and dying, it also shows the happiness of a long relationship. I think I have the ability to look at my history without too much emotion and therefore the editing was more of handicraft than emotional.

 

KT: “Receiving a death sentence is special, to say the least. You think you know everything, have been through it all, and feel you can be practical about it. But it pierces your soul like a sharp dagger,” you write in the opening page of your book ‘ENDING’. What was your emotional state while working on this project?

LS: It was joyful! I was starting my ”second life” knowing to be free of cancer. The creative process was very stimulating and  I was doing what I had been dreaming of all my life.

 

KT: Presence of your partner’s portraits in the second half of your powerful book provides a sense of tranquillity and care. What was the visual collaborative process between you and your partner considering her embrace provides a very soothing effect to your book project?

LS: I am very fortunate in having a 50-year long relationship. You know each other in and out and there is no need for fights any more. When the Ending projected started, I focused on panic attacks I had experienced towards the end of my professional working career. Later the project grew into the broader subject of getting old and I wanted to show that ageing also has a positive side.

 

KT: In one of your interviews, you quoted – “Photographing and trying to share your inner self, has been true therapy. My work process was to start with an idea and then I let it lead to whatever the unconscious came up with”. What were the difficulties you faced during this project?

LS: The quote is about one of my important strategies in the project. By thinking out a scene on beforehand and starting to photograph, I sometimes got into the flow and my unconscious took over and new scenes came to me. After such a session, I might have a few hundred shots. Then the brain took over again by doing the edit. Sometimes the images were useless, but other times, one or two survived. The process of letting image ideas come to me and later work them through was a sort of therapy. I never saw real difficulties, except it, was a very time-consuming process. But then again, I enjoyed what I was doing.

 

KT: With your self-induced honest photographic approach, what do you do you want to achieve with your photography in the ‘END’?

LS: Difficult to say. It’s not like I have a message to convey. I’ll be happy if my images cause a response in the viewer and possibly evoke reflections on oneself and life in general. My new book, ‘Beyond the Mirror’, to be released in November 2018 by Void-Photo (English) and Skreid (Swedish) continues where Ending ends and is dealing with after death fantasies and other worlds. To keep an open mind and live at the crossroad of reality and fiction enrich my life.

 

Photographs©Leif Sandberg</strong</strong

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