Thobias Malmberg is one of those young talents who understand photography as a language to know their world, and themselves, better. Born in Stockholm, this 25 years old artist has become a genius in the art of taking self portraits and showing, through them, a very sensual and honest diary about his own body and experience. The strong sensuality, the suggestive nudity and the fainted lights on every single picture drive us to his privacy, almost as if we were part of it. Fascinated by his work, we talked with him about polaroids, his particular style and why the human body is so important in his artwork.
I got my first camera when I was 8 years old, but before that I had already been using my parents’ cameras. I was obsessed with capturing the world around me. I also did some still–life and portraits back then. Then I lost it for some years, when the transition from analog to digital happened – I didn’t know how to connect with it. In my late teens I started to appreciate it, but now I’m back on analog again...
I think I’m a painter at heart. It is always easier to let your mind roam free on a piece of paper with coal or oil than with taking photographs. Photography is a cold medium to work with, just press a button and you'll have something to look at without using your imagination. Sometimes the combination of photography and painting can be truly beautiful.
There is no motion in my photographs, but there is a certain calmness and warmth, and also softness. Sometimes I get very close up, and other times quite far away from the object. It depends on the relationship to the matter, really.
It is more honest than digital photography. With all the retouching and colour correcting and filters, it takes the focus away from the moment of shooting. You only get one shot with polaroids, you have to think one step ahead, and it is instantaneous, so for an impatient person like me it's perfect!
The honesty. I’m very bad at directing, but I always have a clear vision in my mind, so everything has to come naturally. And maybe that is what’s shining through. I almost never plan when I’m going to shoot something, the moment just arrives in front of me and sometimes I get it, and sometimes it just slips away. It’s that brief moment of honesty. The people I shoot always have a fragile and vulnerable look. But there is also a calmness and a seriousness to them. You can never be sure.
I get very inspired by the human body, both in a sexual and an objectifying way. It’s such an amazing thing to look at! But I find the line between pornographic and ‘arty’ photographs very blurry, and I don’t know and don’t care where it goes. We are the most vulnerable when we are naked, but it's also our most natural state. And that’s what interests me!
I prefer to do my art alone, so becoming the subject myself comes naturally. All photographs become like little stories themselves, like a diary almost, and who can tell my stories better than myself?
I prefer to shoot indoors in a controlled environment, and the camera is always ready on its tripod. Sometimes I shoot outside, but then it's quite planned. But I have missed so many great moments of light, and I don’t bring my camera with me as much as I want.
Sometimes a great moment or idea happens, and I only have my iPhone. Then I only think how great it would look on polaroid, and don’t even care to capture it digitally…
Anyone who is, or isn’t, afraid to show a fragile side to the camera.