Lina Scheynius has always been very open about sharing her life – from intimate self-portraits to glimpses of friends or just the view outside her window, the London-based, Swedish photographer finds beauty in the simplest and most unexpected moments. Scheynius has just released her fourth photo book, a collection of images from the last ten months that sees her coming to terms with being alone, after the end of a relationship. “I think it’s about trying to find your place in the world as one person, not two people,” the softly-spoken photographer says, in a rare interview.
Scheynius started out by uploading her pictures to Flickr six years ago when she was working as a model. “A lot of the pictures I took while I was modelling were the way I wanted to be photographed, rather than how they photographed me,” she remembers, “they always turned me into something else.” Soon Scheynius’s photos were gaining a huge amount of attention online, and before she knew it, she was beginning a new career as a photographer. “I think the reason my photographs are seen at all is because of the blogs,” she considers. “If people hadn’t continued reposting them, nobody would have ever seen them, because I didn’t take them into an agency or to any magazines. So I’m very thankful.”
“A lot of the pictures I took while I was modelling were the way I wanted to be photographed, rather than how they photographed me,” she remembers, “They always turned me into something else.”
Since then Scheynius has become a regular contributor to AnOther, Vogue and Dazed & Confused, among many other publications, but the last year has marked a change of direction, as she’s turned back to her personal work. Following in the footsteps of Juergen Teller, Scheynius was asked to do a 52-week photo column for Die Zeit, Germany’s most influential weekly newspaper. Each week she shares a photograph and writes about the story behind the image – it’s become a diary of her life. “It’s really helped me to focus on my own work,” she says. “I sometimes left that behind when I was doing commercial work. You think you have to prioritise something because a person is paying you.” The results of her year-long column will be exhibited at the Swedish Photography Gallery in January in Berlin.
While her photos are deeply personal, in person Scheynius is a world away from the ‘Instagram-my-life’ generation. So how does she feel about sharing some of the most private details of her life with an audience? “At the beginning I didn’t think many people were going to see my photos,” she admits. “Now I’m sort of used to it, but in the middle it got really terrifying. I realised ‘wow, a lot of people are looking at these’ and I started to imagine that people were behind me when I was taking pictures. I couldn’t shake the idea,” Scheynius says. “But then when my grandfather was ill in hospital, I photographed him and I knew that I would never show these pictures to anyone but him and the family. That reminded me that I can also take pictures just for myself.”
The limited edition photo book 04 is available here.
Text by Karen Orton