Postcard from India

 

The first postcard I’ve gotten is from my friend Uma in Chennai, India. I met Uma the first time in february 2007 when she invited me and several friends to visit for her daughters wedding. A proper traditional Indian wedding.
She introduced me to a whole new culture, a new way of seeing things and is today one of my closest friends that has helped me understand both my own culture from an outsiders point of view and a complex culture such as the Indian one. The only thing that needs to be sorted is the fact that she has seen more Ingmar Bergman movies than I have. That is unacceptable.
This is the note that comes with the postcard:

This picture I took in 2006 on my Kashmir holiday. These kids swarmed around us, smiled, sang, danced and kept us company. I just loved their beautiful looks and spontaneity. Seeing this again I send them a kiss and hope they travel across the globe on your postcard blog. :)

If you haven’t done so, please send me a nice postcard from a place or a situation that means something to you! You can do so for a low cost at postcard.com if you don’t happen to have a physical one laying around.

Respect

 

Today I sat down to send off four envelopes. When folding them together, I realized that two of the letters were for customers with no more pre-made labels.
I could have written the adress by hand.

But I didn’t. I felt embarrased to do so.

My customers deserve better than to get an envelope with the adress written in haste.
They pay good money for my job. And that is how I treat them?

My respect is not written on paper,

It comes in the details.

Zenit-E

 

Last week, I had this sudden impulse to start looking for an old analogue camera. I haven’t used an analogue camera in over ten years, and I have practically no experience in using one. I was therefore attracted to the idea of learning the craft from the beginning.
I went online and finally found a Zenit-E on e-bay for the sum of $25!

Zenit-E was made in Russia during 1965 and 1982 and sold in more than 12 million units. A big deal back then. Eventually the company died from the competition by better Japanese brands.
I was unsure weather it would actually work, mine is from 1973 and is older than myself!

When I got it and opened the package, I was very impressed. The quality of it is better than my four year old digital, in part because of the sturdy metal casing. You can clearly tell that this camera was built in an age when things were meant to last.
The camera is completely mechanic. It doesn’t even use batteries for the light meter. Instead the light meter works with selenium gas that reacts with the light and tell you what iso, aperture and shutter speed to use.
It feels like walking around with a brick and when you look through the viewfinder, you are immediatelly transported back to an age when the world was slightly yellow and worn down.

I shot two quick rolls and turned it in for development. Today I picked them up and was surprised by the result. Not only does the camera work, I’m actually quite happy with them.
I have done no editing at all with these pictures, I wanted to see the exact quality the camera produced as it is so that I can learn and adapt to the cameras peculiarities.
This is what I got:

 

Creativity

 

Creativity is something that has been an interest of mine for a long time.
It was one of the things that I wanted to explore during my trip, even though I never really had a plan of what to do or not.

These days, creativity is a very popular subject. Brothers Teo and Fredrik Hären has made tons of money writing and speaking about it and one of their books was recently listed as one of the 100 most important books in business. That shows how something like creativity, traditionally not a very popular subject in most businesses, except among a few individuals, has suddenly become very popular.

We easily associate creaitivty with certain proffessions. Designers, science, product development, musicians, artists and so on. It has not been as common to talk about service, industry or office work as being creative.
Earlier in history, creativity has been a luxury and interest of the few, but for most people, it has rather been avoided. Peasants in feodal europe or the factory worker were not supposed to think too much, that only caused problems. Today, we still suffer from that kind of thinking, while at the same time, people in all types of businesses are expected to be more responsible, initiative-taking individuals that also solve problems in a creative way.

For me, creativity is not something that only matters for the few. For me it is about living. Every human being is creative, it is just as natural to us as breathing. No one is more or less creative, but are born with a full capacity.
What then happens is that we are molded and conditioned through years of upbringning, school and life in a society where creativity is not only discouraged, but also punished.
The ones who we normally refer to as being creative, is people who for some reason has remained unblocked or who for some reason has begun to unlearn that which holds us back.

The last few years, I have come to realize that creativity is both important and fun, and that there is a point in challenging our ideas and ways of thinking. To try new things and explore all aspects of life. Wether my life actually gets better, I don’t know, that’s not the point, the point is that I find it enjoyable.

Volt festival 2011

 

Yesterday I went to the Volt festival in Uppsala, an annual festival for all kinds of electronic music.

It was a varied mix of all kinds of music and a very interesting and exciting experience. In the end I have to list Darkstar, who did an exellent performance, as my favourite. Around midnight, it felt like it was enough, my brain was about to collapse from all the noise and visual effects trying to steal a bit of my brains attention. A bit sad I have to say, because the bus didn’t leave until 03.15 in the morning.

I brought my camera with me to try and shoot as much as possible. Shooting music and concerts is a bit different, especially indoor since the light is very unpredictable. Just because of that, I wanted to experiment as much as possible in a place where it was actually ok to bring your camera. It turned out to be challenging but rewarding.

Starting my own

 

A month ago I got an assignment through my friend Maria to photograph the people at the company she’s working for.

It’s my first job getting paid, so I was a bit nervous.
I found quite a few things doing it, that I need to work on, but overall, I’m happy with the results. And, by that, I also join the group of people running their own business. A strange, but really nice feeling!

In a month I have another assignment planned, and I need to prepare quite a bit for this one. It’s a wedding, so the possibility to come back and do it again is not there. You don’t have that option.
It will be fine.

Send me a postcard

 

When I moved in to this apartment, fall of 2008 I decided to paint the walls or put up wallpaper.
It’s not like the ones I have right now disturbs me, but that is not the reason why I haven’t done anything so far. There are two reasons. One, that I don’t know what to do, but the major reason is that I find it really boring to redecorate. There are so many better ways to spend your time and money.

Last week I brought back all the photos I have had at work since January. Because of that I started moving things around at home and realized that the photo I had hanging in the hallway needed to be taken down. Instead I put up one of my photos from my trip, but somehow it didn’t really fit there. So this monday I took it down and started putting up some old photos that has been laying around.
Some of these photos is from an old roll of film that me and two friends shot with an analog camera back in 1999. There were some nice phofos in there but I also took out the four pictures I bought at a museum watching a Richard Avedon exhibition in Amsterdam some years ago.

Richard Avedon is one of the worlds most famous fashion photographers. He’s taken pictures of every celbrity you know. To his death, 81 years old in 2004, he photographed actors, models, writers, dancers and politicians. Picasso, Elisabth Taylor, Tina Turner, Bob Dylan, Beatles, Ronald Reagan.

I had never heard of him.
Have you? How many photographers do you know?

Before I heard about Richard Avedon, I could probably not have named one photographer. I liked photography, but never really reflected that someone had actually taken that picture. That this someone was an artist that conciously had created an image. The line between crappy party or holiday pictures with a plastic camera to an artist creating art with his camera didn’t exist.

There were just images
On things we observe. And we observe things everyday.

But in that exhibition in Amsteradm there was a picture on the wall. A white wall. Clean. And on that white background I saw Marilyn Monroe.
Marilyn Monroe symbolize to me, Hollywood. A beautiful world of smiles. A world of plastic where we get the same response no matter who you talk to or how they feel.
In that picture I didn’t see only Marilyn Monroe. A mere representation. In that picture I saw a human being.

A human being just as alive as you and me. With feelings just like you and me.
In this photography I felt a connection to a human being I had never met, that I hardly knew anything about.
In a photography I saw art.

On my wall there are four photographsn by Richard Avedon. Unfortunately not the one of Marilyn Monroe, because I have been unable to find that photograph of her.
I would really love to have more photographs on that wall, so therefore I ask you for help. I would like you to send me a postcard or photo to me. Your black and white favourite. If you don’t have any postcards like that, you can upload a photo to Postcard.com and send it to me.
Send it to:

Mathias Cederholm
Bällstavägen 51
168 66 Stockholm
SWEDEN

Choose a picture that means something to you, if needed convert it to black and white in iPhoto or Picasa on your computer and upload it to Postcard.com. On the backside, write a motivation on why you chose that picture.

I look forward to recieving postcards from all over the world. And even if you don’t know me, but have found this blog some other way, so send me a postcard anyway!
I will publish all postcards recieved on this blog, so choose a picture, write something interesting (or not) and send it! ?

 

Change

What is it really, that creates change?

In my last post, I wrote about changing habits. But if it was that easy, wouldn’t we all have changed our bad habits a long time ago?
I think what I wrote to be good advice. It sounds reasonable and attracts us. But the question is if that is the case because it is the whole truth or because it means we can procrastrinate a little bit more? We can set up a plan. Step by step. Steps are easy to like.

But, when do we actually decide? When is the point of decision? When have we had enough?

Our reactions is a mix of our biology, prior experiences in relationship to the current situation. But we had no control on where we were born or in what environment. Who had I been if I was born in China? Would I have had the same view on life? The same values or opinions?
We may say we chose a certain education, a direction in life or that we chose to go to a certain country. But why did we chose that? Did we choose it because of prior experiences? People we met, or books we’ve read? And why did we meet just those people? Why did we read those books? Two people can be in the same spot at the same time, meet the same person or read the same book, yet still have a completely different experience. Why is that?
Every situation is unique. Despite them being apparently the same.

The more I think about it, the more I realize that who I think I am, is more a coincidence than something within my control. All my prior decisions or actions is based on prior decisions and actions, which are based on prior experiences, based on prior decisions and actions.
At the end of that line, who am I? Is there something here making decisions at all? Is there free will? Or are we just like a river. A blob of water following the law of least resistance on it’s way to merge with the ocean?

According to Benjamin Libet, he proves through his research on human conciousness and free will that our brain has already made decisions prior to us becoming aware of it. That processes in our brain has already chosen a direction up to seven seconds before we think we make the decision.
We can choose (or can we?) to not believe in this, quesiton the validity of his methods. But in any case, it brings up questions about something that almost everyone of us takes for granted.

So, if we decide to change our habits. From where does that decision come? How was it made, did we have any control over it? Or is it just something that happened?
And if it just happened, is it then important to write about it? Talk about it? Does it matter wether I write this or not? Or, maybe, by writing this, someone reads it and in that moment, something is triggered in that person. A change is created beyond the control of a someone writing it or reading it.

If this is so, it’s easy to think that nothing no longer matters. There is no point in living or doing anything. But asking yourself that question brings you, immediately back to motivation. Are we motivated because we want to do something, or because life is self-motivating? Maybe I’m writing this, not because I want to or having decided to do so, but just because I do. The law of causality is no longer working. First there is an event happening, then, after there is an explanation saying that we wanted to or that we made a decision. Our experience of control and autonomy is a fabrication, an illusion.

The logical next step is that we really have no control at all. It is not possible to act in any other way than we do. Nothing can be undone and we can be no other than we are. It may sound depressing, but it also bring a huge sense of freedom. Suddenly, all concepts of guilt or shame disappear, thoughts that are based on the idea that we could have acted in any other way than we did. Suddenly our worry disappear that we might not act in the future the way we want to or hope for. Suddenly our pride of past actions and achievements becomes meaningless. The constant focus on what has been or what will be.
Our experience is no longer about things outside of our control and instead on the here and now, being in every situation as it is.

Maybe it is not at all about changing habits in small steps. Figuring out how to create change or make decisions. Maybe it is rather so that we stop worrying about it, live each second fully and suddenly change happens by itself.