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To Hold Hands or Not: How paying attention to shadows paid off for Niklas Lindskog

Today, Culture in Context has the great honour of interviewing Niklas Lindskog. He kindly agreed to answer questions on the inspiration and circumstances in which he took the picture To Hold Hands or Not. The shot requires lightning reflexes and sharp eye for lighting and shadows so we were curious to hear about it!

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To Hold Hands or Not Credit: Niklas Lindskog

Niklas lives in the 2014 European Capital Culture of Umea in scenic northern Sweden and has been photographing for around 40 years, since the age of 13. His parents gave him a Minolta SLR camera and suggested he attended photography to learn the fundamentals when he told them he wished to be a movie director. This was the start of a passion which hasn’t left him since. Hours sat in a closet lab as a teenager culminated in a year as photographer during his stint in the military service .

More recently, Niklas has dedicated himself to photography trips all around the world, with a particular emphasis on street photography. This was kickstarted by a 2010 three week trip to Beijing, and has led to him publishing his work on Swedish photography site www.fotosidan.se (“The Photo Page”), and then internationally on Deviant Art.

The link to his www.fotosidan.se can be found by clicking here and to his Deviant Art page can be found by clicking here.

Where did you take the picture you called To Hold Hands or Not?

I shot this in Copenhagen, Denmark, in the vicinity of the central train station.

What was your inspiration for the picture? For example, was there a particular theme or mood you wished to convey?

When shooting street it is very hard to predict what is going to happen in from of you. So I try to have an open mind and follow the flow of what is going on. This is evening, golden hour, light and from the last series of shots from this day. That kind of light, low sun, is a favorite as it creates intesting shapes from light and shadow that is not present at other times.

How was the creative process behind the picture? For example, did the shot hit you spontaneously or did you scout the location?

I saw the couple sitting there and was thinking about crossing the street to get my normal style of shot: wide angle shot from a short or even very short distance. Suddenly I saw the other couple walking along the pavement from left to right and saw their shadows behind them on the wall. I hurried to get the frame and this was the first shot. In the other frames the shadows are less clear as it hits distracting objects and then gone altogether.

How does To Hold Hands or Not fit with other pictures you have taken?

Paying attention to light and shadows and the geometry of the scene is something I have been working at more these last two years. Very much inspired by my dear friend, great street photographer Alphan Yilmazmaden (who can be found at arslanalp.deviantart.com/ ) , who I met in Istanbul in 2015 and 2016. The human interest part of street photography is what interests me most, so I tend to focus on the people first. Planned compositions are less common for me as you have to be extremely lucky to be able to find true emotion in such a shot. So my strategy is to try and find that human emotion and then compose as best I can on the fly.