Wrapped under his Oh, my moniker, Oliver Hultqvist’s instagram bio reads like that of a man wearing many different hats: Creator. One hell of a lover (apparently). 35mm photographer. Producer. Poet. Quite extensive, really. For now let’s focus on his photography persona and the wordsmithery that goes alongside it. And hey, there’s plenty to unpack, really.
Hello Oliver. Please tell us a little bit about yourself.
My upbringing took place in a small village deep within a Swedish forest. My parents moved here to partake in a commune they had come to be a part of a few years earlier. My family had their own place, but spent a lot of time at the commune, where we shared an enormous house together with what might have been 100 people – at least that is what it felt like being a kid. The communal house being placed by a lake in the forest offered a beautiful place to explore and play growing up, and so did my actual home.
Seems like a fantastic, wholesome upbringing to me.
Absolutely. The reason I mention the commune is because this is where my creativity was fed, not only by the freedom of the surroundings but also by the diverse group of people I would meet during our time there. This commune focusing on spiritual healing and wellbeing attracted a bunch of different people from all corners of society, all of them being different from each other and having different stories to tell, in my eyes all shared one thing: sensitivity.
This must’ve had a great impact on the way you see the world, also in terms of being creative, right?
Through this I learned to embrace my own sensitivity, which often (not always) goes hand in hand with creativity. It’s important for me to point out that sensitivity does NOT equal sadness or emotional pain, but to be aware and open to the world around you. So, this is the basis on which my creativity rests and from this I’ve walked alongside it all my life.
Describe your photographic style in 3 words.
What does film mean to you? How did you get into analog photography in the first place?
For me film equals “the unknown” and a bit of mystery. The idea of not fully knowing how the photo will turn out until days, weeks or months later really tingles my spine. Every time I get the photos back from the developer I’m 7 years old again, waking up to my parents singing Happy Birthday. Besides the beautiful aesthetics film has and that you can’t recreate with digital, I think the process is more where it vibes with me. The feeling of letting go and letting the film do its magic.
Having thought about it for several years I decided to buy a Canon t70 last year. I’d recently came back from a 4-month camper van trip through southern Europe and during that trip I witnessed the most amazing natural wonders, but never ever did I pick up my digital camera to try to capture it. It just didn’t feel right. Still wanting to save and present these beautiful moments in my own way, film became the obvious choice for me. And now, more than a year later I really feel that shooting film enhances these moments, rather than stealing my focus and appreciation for the moment.
What’s your current setup and is there anything on your list of cameras or film to dig into or try out in the future?
As I’m writing this I’m on a trip through South-East Asia and traveling as a backpacker you could only fit so much, so the setup for this trip is my Minolta X-700 fitted with a 28, 50, 135 and 100-300mm lenses. My secret weapon however is my underwater camera “Snapsights”, which I’m hoping to capture a lot of beautiful scenes through.
As for the future, first thing I’ll buy when I get back home is a medium format camera, I just love the looks of it. And with that maybe explore portrait photography a bit, but try to figure out a way that suits me and what I’m trying to present.
You’re frequently using words to accentuate and connect the dots in the scenes you shoot. How so?
I posted poems that I’d been writing when I first started using Instagram years ago. However, they’re not really poems, most of them are written like rap lyrics. But like most things in my life it bored me after a while, so I stopped doing it. So for a few years that Instagram account was put on hold, but a few visuals for my music I posted once in a blue moon. After having this fresh start and this newfound love for film, I decided to put these together which has always been a dream of mine.
What’s usually happening first: The shot or the poem that’s going alongside it?
As for the whole process: I always start with the photo and either write something specifically for that photo or search through my old writings to find something that will fit the vibe I’m going for.
The feeling of home and the outdoors have a strong impact on your photographic work. Were you always drawn to this?
Glad that you’ve picked up on my longing for home and appreciation for the outdoors. I think that it shines through because of me living far away from my loved ones and has been for most of my adulthood. For the past 6 years or so I’ve been living a life of working around 6-12 months followed by traveling for 3-6 months only to do it all over again. My base has then been Oslo, Norway which isn’t that far away, but far enough that I only meet the family on holidays. This may not bother some people, but for me, not being able to spend time with the ones I love really stings – enough to poke through in everything I do.
Nature has always been a place for me to recharge and to ground myself in since I grew up so in contact with nature, especially the forest. There’s something familiar and universal about all parts of nature not depending by the looks of it, but rather the energy you can pick up. It only feels natural for me to try to portray the beauty I pick up by being outdoors for others to relate to or be inspired by. So that feeling of longing for my family really can be tamed by heading out for a hike for a few hours and feeling the connectivity there, but then you know, there’s always Skype.
Thanks a lot for the chat, Oliver!
Find more of Oliver’s work here and give him a follow!