Art & Photography / Culture Talks

Your First Look at Lina Scheynius' Beautiful New Photobook

The celebrated Swedish photographer discusses her intimate tome, alongside an exclusive selection of its beguiling images

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Photography by Lina Scheynius

"I never really talk about the message of a book or an image," says Swedish photographer Lina Scheynius simply, when asked to explain the ideas and inspirations behind her dreamy new book, 08. "It’s completely up to the viewer to find whatever it is they find. I do this because I love doing it and every book I make means a lot to me." It's this highly subjective approach – alongside the washed-out tones and intimate, snap-shot compositions that have come to define her unique aesthetic – that has garnered Scheynius so much acclaim in the years since she turned her back on a highly successful modelling career to pursue photography full time. 

As its title suggests, Scheynius' latest offering is her eighth self-published tome to date – she has released one a year, with the exception of last year, since 01's launch in 2008. Like numbers one to seven, the book is bound in a plain white cover, and inside a number of images boast Scheynius' signature trademarks, from beguiling self-portraits taken in a black bathtub, which forms a striking backdrop to her porcelain skin and drenched, auburn locks, to close-up details of physical contact (think clasped hands and softly kissing lips). But while the photographer's work has always possessed an intense and thought-provoking candidness, this series of photographs seems to probe at something even deeper – filled as it is with unanswered questions, courtesy of expansive skyscapes and hazy, monochrome shots of Scheynius, back to the camera, gazing intently out of the window before her. "In this particular book, a lot of the images came from a quite emotional period in my life with a lot of turmoil and change," Scheynius explains of the prevailing mood. "Ups and downs. Even doubts about whether photography really was something I wanted to devote so much of my life to." Here, we present an exclusive preview of the book, alongside the photographer's insights into her instincts and practice.

On what makes a successful photograph...
"Something that gives you an emotional reaction."

On working instinctively...
"So much of my practice is about following my gut instincts and capturing something in the moment that inspires me. There isn’t much thinking going on while I take the shots. Afterwards I can obviously analyse why I did a certain thing and why it mattered to me, but it’s just theories."

On the formatting process...
"When I made the first book, I had a dream that there would be more and that it would be a series, but I didn’t really know if that would work out and I didn’t spend that much time thinking about whether I would love the format for years to come. I just did something I liked and could afford to make at the time. After number three I was completely fed up with the format and wanted to quit, but then a friend convinced me to keep going. And now I have fallen back in love with it. The more of them I make the nicer they look together on a shelf."

On her favourite images in the book...
"It changes from day to day – I am going to pick three! The black and white close-up kiss. The pink flower and the self-portrait in the black bath tub from the front."

On the biggest point of difference from her previous books...
"The paper is very different! It’s the glossiest yet."

On her working requirements...
"It depends on what kind of work I am doing. If it’s taking the pictures, then I need to have an open mind and time on my hands – and loneliness usually helps too. Editing I like to do with music on and quite often at night. White walls help me too and lots of space to play around in. I also like to ask friends for advice. Then there is all the other work that comes with the territory of being a photographer – organising, posting on social media and emailing and that I do best if I have gotten plenty of sleep, have eaten properly and have a cup of tea by my side."

08 by Lina Scheynius is available now. 

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