After swapping her native Stockholm for Cape Town, Swedish photographer Linnea Frank has seen her career flourish. With four exhibitions under her belt in the South African capital and a swimwear line to her name, she has adapted well to life in the Rainbow Nation. We sat down with her to talk about her move, creative process and love for black & white photography.
Last time we spoke you had just moved from Stockholm to Cape Town. How have you settled in there? Are you planning on staying?
Wow, yes, last time I was on the plane to Cape Town with a beer in my hand. I’ve now lived in Cape Town for just over three years and I must say that the move was the best decision of my life so far. And yes, I’m planning on staying, I can really call Cape Town my home! I still go to Sweden twice a year for an exhibition every Easter in the south of the country, and then in the summer to work or hang out with family and friends in Stockholm. Since I moved, I’ve had four exhibitions here in Cape Town. My art partner, Ana Kuni, and I have just opened up a beautiful, brand new studio. And I’ve also launched a swimwear brand based on my art and photos, Nayiha Swimwear.
Talk us through your creative process and rituals—how does a design take shape from start to finish?
Well, it all starts with me making layers. I take photographs of textures on walls or streets, and I also make my own layers with anything I can find, from breakfast eggs to melting lipsticks on some surface, and then take pictures of it. Second, would have to be music. I have to listen to a playlist that brings out a lot of emotions—that’s when I work the best. After that, I start to have a look at photos I have of people, to find that special feeling. I actually never know what I want to do until I’m done. Sometimes I’m using a lot of different layers and sometimes one is enough. I’m actually always playing around when I’m doing my art and that’s what I absolutely love about it.
You seem inspired by the human body, what fascinates you about it in particular?
I just really love everything about the body, the beauty of it and how it can be captured in so many different ways. It’s just beautiful!
You have a knack for everything from photojournalism to shooting high fashion editorials. What’s your favourite style of photography?
I used to be a big fan of documentary photography. I went to visit Africa from Sweden several times—it gave me a different type of feeling. When you take some photos of a couple of kids and then show them the result, the happiness in their eyes, the screaming laughter...it's like nothing else—it's real. But at the moment it goes in waves. Right now I’m in love with taking different beauty portraits.
What keeps you up at night?
Work and my thoughts. I think a lot when I'm alone at night. Night-time is also the time when I get the most work done. I get inspired when I'm alone and can turn the volume up to the max on the stereo.
What are the three things in life that you couldn’t do without?
First of all, I couldn't manage without the support and love from family and friends. I'm blessed with a bunch of totally amazing people. Secondly, my camera of course. But—believe it or not—it has happened that I left my camera at home when I went on vacation. Though I totally love my job and my camera, photographers also need a photo break! But these days, you always have your smartphone, so you can take pictures without the pressure. The third one is actually very hard. I consider myself as being a very simple person, I don't need much. When I think of what I brought along with me to Cape Town—a bag of clothes, camera and computer...that's it! Well OK: the third, music. The world would be boring without music.
Colour or monochrome?
Monochrome! I always shoot in black and white, I don't get ‘the feeling’ if I shoot in colour. I can see the picture better in black and white, even how the colours are going to look afterwards. Most of my clients have gotten used to that at this point.
Text: Nicholas Potter