Born in Sweden, Johan is a citizen of the world. Music, Photography, Dance, among others, his passions are many, becoming indistinguishable between hobbies and work.
Enchanted by his passionate way of life, it is with great pleasure that we interviewed Johan Otterdahl Edfeldt.
I was born in a beach town on the west coast of Sweden but spent the last 20 years travelling the globe searching for the perfect wave, mostly in Spain and New Zealand. I used to be a fulltime musician for many years but I have decided to take a break from my music for a while. So right now I’m working extra as a waiter and selling some prints on the side. When this Covid era is over, I probably go back to doing music and making photographs. I and my wife live in a tiny 25 square meter house in Sweden but we spent the first 6 months of the year in New Zealand living vanlife and staying with friends.
I really never felt Swedish, so when I moved to Spain at the age of 19, I felt right at home. I love passionate people and people with passions. Swedes can be very cold and emotionless in their appearance. Although my wife and best friends are Swedish, I met them all while travelling. I don’t have any friends back in Sweden I actually met in Sweden. Moving to Spain, I had more friends within a few months than I had in a lifetime, and then moving on to New Zealand I met the nicest people in the world. Learning to speak German, English, Spanish, Norwegian etc. has helped me a lot with my photography and how to interact with people. When you travel and see all kinds of cultures you learn to read people, situations and capture stories better. It’s good to be street-smart when you’re out taking photos unless you shoot, sport, wildlife and landscapes.
Home is where I have my wife, guitar, surfboard and camera. Everywhere is home.
I’m a passionate guy and I tend to go all-in when it comes to hobbies, so much it takes over my life in many ways.
I honestly have not read too many books in my life but hundreds of photography, surfing and music magazines.
My dad was a photographer but I was never really aloud to use his camera gear as a kid. I always wanted to take photos, but it really started when I moved to the Canary Islands in 2000. I used disposable cameras all the time from trips to Asia, festivals and road trips. I got my first digital camera around 2004 but secretly used my dad’s back in 1999. I always had the passion for it but never the money. I always saw the world as a photographer even though I did not have a camera with me. My first “real” camera was a Canon 550D. I actually sold off all my Canon gear including a 700D and 5 lenses last week.
I’m inspired by cultures and people’s passion for life. Surfing is more than just people on waves. When you have a passion, it is easier to meet, talk and photograph people with the same passion. There are so many fake lifestyle pictures out there. Instagram has taken it to another level. It seems like people care more about the picture than the moment. I like to stay a few days, weeks or months at a place if I like it. Then feel the vibe and photograph it.
I was born and raised by the sea in a Swedish little surf town on the west coast. Since I was a child, I’ve always been drawn to the ocean, and after I started surfing, the ocean has become my home and where I feel most at ease. Most of my travels are surf trips, so the ocean is always there most of the time.
I can get pretty bored with surf photography, but I realized that I could take my street photography to the beach.
A good portrait of a surfer gets me happier than a good picture of a surfer on a wave. I don’t feel I have a real portfolio yet since all I do is chaos; you should see my “organized” folders.
In the analog era, I used mostly one time disposable cameras but also shot with the Olympus OM-2 or my dad’s Leica Rs and a few pocket cameras. In the digital era, I’ve tried and owned a few. Before switching to Fujifilm my most used camera of all time was a Canon 700D. Cheap and great for travel. I’ve sold prints and had pictures in magazines and books taken with that camera.
My current setup:
Fujifilm X-T2 together with the XF16mm F1.4, XF23mmF2, XF35mmF1.4, XF50mmf2, XF55-200mm, XF18-55mm, Samyang 12mmF2, Leitz Elmarit R 35mm f2.8 (from 1969).
Hands down, 35mm APS-C / 50mm FF. I wish Fujifilm made an X100 with a 35mm instead of 23mm lens.
If I could only have one lens for the rest of my life, it would be the XF35mmF1.4. I just wish it was WR.
Natural light all the way. I use a flash maybe 10 days per year. Flash is great but it is a whole other way of taking photos and I’m not good enough or have enough money to get the gear I want. I really have respect for the flash photographer who can make it look natural. If I had some extra cash I could invest in gear and lessons. But extra cash normally goes to surf gear and surf trips 🙂
I always shoot on location unless I’m lucky to have a studio around. I prefer the wild and the streets. I could never be a studio photographer but I do love the work of Phil Sharp, a great GFX portrait photographer in England. I would love to do what my favorite photographer Theo Gosselin does. He builds his stories and photographs in amazing sceneries with beautiful and cool people.
I actually try to get it right in-camera from the start. The custom film simulations are great. I shoot 99% jpeg but definitely will shoot more RAW in the future. If you get a good jpeg, it is easy to work with and it will look great printed. I normally use brightness, contrast, highlights, shadows and clarity when processing my photos. I normally spend less than a minute in post-processing on my photos, unless I’m selling a print or sending it to magazines. I have got Affinity Pro, Capture One, Lightroom CC and Snapseed. I use mainly Lightroom and Snapseed since I find the workflow with my Samsung TabS6 tablet suits me better than on my computer. I’ve fixed photos in computer since Paintshop Pro days in the 90s.
I’m currently working with the 100 stranger’s project. I’m taking documentary portraits of 100 people I never met in my life. My plan is to take photos of people around Gothenburg. I shot in Acros mode and I ask them for their name and their favorite music. I plan to level up my astrophotography in 2021.
To capture a moment can be so powerful and beautiful. A photograph can tell so many stories and even change people for the better. Photographs are captured memories. I love to take a good photograph, then print it and give it away as a gift. Most people these days don’t print at all so it is always nice to make them happy.
A wanderlust Swede with a passion for music and waves travelling the world, capturing memories.