Contributing Author: Anne Telford
Andy Anderson has deep roots in the Swedish countryside. At the turn of the 20th century there was a mass migration from Sweden due to the economy. His paternal grandparents were part of that migration, settling in Oyster Bay, on the north shore of Long Island in New York. His grandfather Herbert Gustav Anderson was a steward on yachts owned by the Vanderbilt and Mellon families, creating a historical precedent for his grandson’s love of the water.
It’s no wonder Anderson is drawn to the stark beautiful landscape of northern Sweden, scoured by rocky peaks and frigid lakes. The endless light and the expansive vistas proved a perfect setting for a recent somewhat spontaneous fashion shoot in Swedish Lapland. And the trip gave him an opportunity for his 25-year-old son Zachary to see what that side of the family was all about.
Personality Is Key
Anderson is proof that to succeed in today’s competitive photographic market, you must distinguish not just your work, but your personality must also stand out. His people skills have led Anderson to many an adventure, and to great friendships. His recent trip started out as a query to Håkan Stenlund, PR director of the Swedish Lapland Visitors Board, to go fishing. “Håkan got me access to a lot of places. We traveled around the region for 10 days. We got helicopter rides into the backcountry. The land is kind of unknown to Americans,” Anderson explains. “Swedish Lapland is so much more undiscovered. It’s Minnesota with mountains!”
“I met Andy through his work,” Håkan relates. “I used to shoot photo essays for Gray’s Sporting Journal. And so did he. I remember some of his essays still. He was great at storytelling, creating content with his shots.
“The genesis of the trip was quite simple. He contacted me on Insta and said he wanted to go fishing. So we actually just set up a cast and blast through Swedish Lapland. But that all changed when he came. He liked the country and just started working. [I] don’t even think he touched his fly rods!” Håkan says.
“It felt like the most magical place I’ve ever been,” Andy says. “I feel at home in big open places. I’m not a big city guy. Not even a chance.
“People know me for my landscape work,” Andy states, typically modest about his achievements. His award-winning campaigns for GoRV, “God Made a Farmer” Super Bowl commercial for RAM Trucks, and Liberty Mutual, demonstrate his expertise at lighting and composition, and give a glimpse into what makes him tick.
Little wonder that a timeless landscape in which everything recedes except the natural beauty and incredible light would appeal to his senses. It also gave him an opportunity to shoot local modeling talent in starkly beautiful settings.
In one frame from this recent shoot an isolated island is seen from above, a few small red traditional houses dotting its shores. The red color derives from the mineralization of the Falun copper mine. The end result is paint with a matte finish and translucent surface with coarse silicon dioxide crystals that reflect the sun. At evening the color almost glows.
Speaking of glowing, Andy was able to witness the famed northern lights. “The aurora borealis was a light show on steroids. Zack and I sat outside one night smoking cigars, watching the light show.”
Lapland or Sapmi as it’s called by the indigenous Sami people who have inhabited the region for thousands of years, straddles several regional borders—Norway, Sweden, Finland, and into Russia’s Kola Peninsula. It’s a frontier not unlike the American West used to be. Perfect for someone who chooses to live in a remote location himself, Mountain Home, Idaho, once a stop on the Overland Stage line and home to less than 15,000 people.
“There was a familiarity that was nice to share with my son,” Andy says of the trip. It’s also turned into a long-term project to shoot more work for the tourist board.
Capturing the Arctic Lifestyle
Given its remote location and short growing season, tourism has become increasingly important in this region of Sweden. “In the beginning the purpose of the trip was mostly fun hogging,” Håkan shares. “But that is changing. I hope Andy will come back. I like his pictures and I also love his energy. He is always working, coming up with new ideas. His style is different.
“So what I like is if he can capture what he sees the way he finds it. I love Swedish Lapland and the arctic lifestyle we live. But I’m used to it and have lost a bit of awe. With Andy’s shoots I hope to get some awesomeness in the picture, “Håkan writes me, as he is about to board a plane. For Andy Anderson, awesome is not a problem. And from the look of it in these beautiful images, it’s not a problem for Swedish Lapland either.
The entire series is available for viewing on Andy’s website.