Photographer Feature

Johan Tappert

A Stockholm street photographer
Posted on 22/06/2020

Perhaps it’s due to the twenty years he has spent working as a film director, or perhaps it’s simply his affinity for capturing visual juxtapositions through colour, shadows, architecture, and people. Whatever the case, photographer and Stockholm native Johan Tappert does not shy away from the absurd or from the things that make “everyday life unlikely and interesting”.

[Photo: Old Man in Town]

Johan’s perspective of Stockholm is one drenched in boldness, and his art reflects the happiness and positivity that he tries to humbly ground himself in. His philosophy is one we could all likely stand to adopt: “I’m trying to stay positive and believe that everything will be fine in the end, but of course worries and anxiety are feelings that are hard to stay away from... When I take pictures all worries disappear and I’m in the present, trying to be open and positive.”

When looking through Johan’s work, there are a few common themes. People on the street meticulously matching their surroundings, pedestrians walking at the right place at the right time, light and shadows playing to create the perfect story....Many of his photographs seem almost too perfect to be candid - but remarkably, they are. And that is the mark of a confident street photographer.

I’m an amateur who brings my camera wherever I go. None of my photographs are staged or consented to. They arise from a combination of good timing, good luck, and lots of shooting.

Johan recalls one of the most perfect scenes he’s had the privilege of candidly capturing: a photograph entitled “Everything Will be Fine”. “From a distance I saw this amazing woman approaching with a very interesting outfit - a big yellow hat, white polo shirt and blue denim trousers. Then I looked to my left and saw a tourist bus with exact the same colour palette. The woman came closer and I took my position, raised my camera, checking focus and exposure. Usually there are many people in front of the castle making the image too busy, but at this occasion it was like everyone vanished. The woman approaches the bus and just in front of the bus she stops, and turns around looking for her friends. This is the moment when I get the shot and everything falls in place. Even her necklace matches the colour of the bus windows.”

[Left: Jacket in Worn Bronze | Right: Comics & Vinyl]

[Left: Arrival/Departure | Right: Ghost House]

In his own words, “I’m an amateur who brings my camera wherever I go. None of my photographs are staged or consented to. They arise from a combination of good timing, good luck, and lots of shooting.” And for those who are interested in dabbling in street photography, Johan has a unique takeaway to share: empathy, especially in a field that often does not allow for informed consent from each and every subject. “I always try to empathize with the people I take photographs of. You have to be responsive in the situation and respect people’s integrity and make a moral decision before you take a picture. I think it is important to have an open mind and heart”.

As far as the city he spends so much time photographing? Johan says that his favorite spot is the Royal Castle (at least for photography). While many photographers would lament the return of tourist season and imminent arrival of crowds, Johan welcomes it. “For a street photographer, this is heaven on earth because you can point your camera wherever you want without people reacting and thinking you are starting at them...This makes it easy for me to come close and not become intimidating.”

Written by Niamh Wilkins

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