We sat down to talk with a photographer that we really like, Agnes Maltesdotter, when she stayed at Ceylon Sliders in March. Did you see the girls morning surf story she shot?
Agnes grew up in Stockholm in Sweden, she’s 23 years old and about a year ago she decided to leave her cafe job to instead work full-time with photography.
How did you learn photography?
Just like any other creative job I think it’s more about passion than skills. Of course, I got a lot of advice from my dad who’s a photographer and who helped me to understand how my camera worked when I was a newbie. But what really worked for me was spending many hours with the camera and to practice, practice, practice the eye.
Everyone can take photos but for me it’s more than that. It’s kind of like surfing. Paddling into the wave is as important for me, as the actual ride, to get that magical feeling of a magical wave.
To me photography is so much more than pushing the button. It’s about feeling and editing, I’m not sure everyone reflects about that. Everyone can push a button but everyone doesn’t have that feeling.
I started taking photos with an old iPhone and spent hours of editing before I found my style. I always been creative, studying art at high school made me develop that area since we got challenged everyday to get better.
Since all students had their own style and we were so different, I felt more confident in developing my own style. My best advice to anyone is to stop comparing yourself with others, that used to stop me before.
How did you start surfing?
I always been scared of the ocean but about three years ago I let go of that fear and invited the surf to my life, actually here in Sri Lanka. I was tumbled, I got scared, I hated it, I loved it and then I broke a rib after 3 weeks. I had to stop and rest for a while.
A bit more than a year later I traveled to Galicia with a broken heart. Many tears later I was surfing again. An epic week meeting new crazy, wonderful people made me more stoked than ever so I decided to make this a part of my lifestyle. When fall came to Stockholm me and my colleague Anton Bengtsson who runs Amba Studios in Stockholm, drove down to Biarritz where we produced content and surf as much as we possibly could.
The great times in Biarritz led me to staying the winter in Costa Rica and now Sri Lanka. I’ve been working as with social media and freelance photographer for Surfakademin (Swedish surf travel company). Hanging out with and getting inspiration from really good surfers have been amazing, and now I’m here, loving it!
When looking at your instagram account there are only photos of women who surf, how come?
I want my photography to make young girls believe in themselves and not get affected by trends so much. Where I grew up, it was all about wearing the right clothes, going to the right night clubs in the weekend and making a career. I never fit into that. Getting my hands dirty from gardening work, wearing old runners or Birkenstock, horse riding through the summer nights, hiking mountains and resting on warm cliffs in the archipelago, that’s were I feel alive.
It was hard for me to dare to walk my own way, to follow my dream. To feel ok about being outside in the nature with a thermos in my hand, than with a beer at a bar.
So by shooting and thereby raising outdoor women, I hope to inspire girls to live the life they want. Of course all the awesome women I shoot also inspire me to believe in my dreams.
When looking through surf magazines you always see men taking photos of men surfing, I want to change that. Right now I’m planning a trip to Norther Norway together with a friend to do a cold water surf shoot with her.
What are your best advice to those who are dreaming about living a life as a digital nomad?
Woah. It’s almost unreal to be where I am now.
I started off sending my portfolio around, telling people about my travels plans and tried to get sponsors to jump on. Barely half of the ones I wrote to replied and and those who did rarely needed my help. So it was pretty tough to get to where I am now. A lot of tears and stress feeling I always have to perform. In a way, I’m always at work, always creating more content. It’s a dream job but it doesn’t give that much room for sleeping in and takin it slow.
Sometimes I dream about a job that starts and finishes at the same time every day, Monday to Friday and a home that’s in the same spot. But I now I would get tired of that so instead I try to spend longer time in new places to allow myself to land, breath and absorb it all.
It’s also important to allow yourself to have time off. To rest from the passion two days a week and be bored at times to be able to create again.
Photos by Agnes Maltesdotter. Translation by Maria Paulsson Rönnbäck.