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Malmo Train Station - by Karl Blackwell

1 June 2018

It wasn’t very long ago that the world demanded travel guides to accompany them on their travels, and Lonely Planet, Time Out, Rough Guide etc all had juicy budgets for their photography. This was when the vast bulk of my work involved shooting for such clients, on the hoof, in a quite manic manner, effectively hunting for images from dawn till dusk, inside and outside - images that you HAD to find for a very loose brief, but didn’t know if you could find. It was quite exciting.

Since the advent of the smart phone and hence the effective death of the conventional travel guide, most of my photography assignments have involved the careful planning and placing of myriad lights, tripods and so on in specific places at a specific time of the day, and then, when the marketing director seems happy, squeezing the shutter.  So it’s quite refreshing to have a photograph or a shot come to you, the way it used to. I was on holiday with my partner and three-year-old daughter in Copenhagen recently and we’d opted to spend the last half-day just over the bridge in Malmö, Sweden. I had a small kit with me (since we were on holiday!) - just the one body and a handful of decent lenses.

None of Malmö’s sites or monuments particularly grabbed me on this grey day, with the sun nowhere to be seen.  So there we were at Malmö train station just before dusk, about to board the train back to Copenhagen airport for our flight home at the end of the holiday. I noticed some interesting possibilities within the train station itself. There was an instant contrast between the chaos in the colour, lights and patterns in the foreground, and the symmetry in the arches and pillars along the platforms in the background, with random silhouettes of passengers moving up and down these platforms. The huge glass doors in front of me were continually sliding open and closed revealing an ever changing mishmash of reflections… and then the one missing piece of the jigsaw puzzle presented itself ; a train began to slowly enter the station, and as it drew closer its headlights illuminated the tracks and the dark train-front came to life with the reflections of the magazines from the newsagents behind me, giving the picture a collage/decoupage effect.  It became instantly the most satisfying photograph that I’d taken on the entire holiday.

KB Biography: I have taught myself virtually everything I know about photography from a very early age, and I continue to learn. My earliest photography-related recollection is clambering up Snowdon with my parents and elder brother, with a Kodak Brownie over my shoulder when I was five.

I’ve always been drawn to vivid, honest, quirky imagery, and over the past twenty years have made a very enjoyable living from shooting travel, portraits, lifestyle and hotel imagery for international clients. I have photographed more than twenty travel books, for Lonely Planet, AA Media, Michelin and Time Out, in cities and countries around the world. I probably still travel as much as I ever did, though most of my assignments nowadays are with leading hotel chains such as Four Seasons and Raffles Hotels.  I have shot worldwide advertising campaigns for Canon, and for one of the world's largest ad agencies JWT.

In between assignments I teach what I’ve learnt (the good and the bad) at universities and colleges. Naturally I’m more passionate discussing the artistic side of photography than anything else, but I make sure I tell my students that I myself was a late starter because of my poor understanding of the business side to photography.  A small percentage of my work is represented by Getty images and Lonely Planet. I keep telling myself when I have more time I will upload the remaining tens of thousands.

See more work by Karl Blackwell

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