Behind the lens

Hanna Ukura: Widening Your View of Life

How do you make a living?

I combine freelancing as a photographer with working at different bread and butter jobs mostly to gather inspiration and broaden my views. For example I’ve been working at the Modern Museum of art here in Stockholm for a couple of years and last year I worked for the beer brand Omnipollo at their costume designed bar.

What camera do you use?

Mainly my tiny, scratched Olympus Mju II. It fits in my pocket, no one wants to steel it and I’m not afraid to bring it to parties or to other countries etc cause it’s worth nothing. And it’s surprisingly good!

How has travel made an impact on your life?

I’ve been travelling at least twice a year with my family ever since I was a kid which has made me long for it and miss it when I haven’t been able to travel for a while. I feel restless. For me it’s one of the most important things in life, to widen your view of life.

What is your relationship to travel/adventure, and what does it mean to you?

It means the world to me. If I could I would have a travelling life without boundaries and musts. I try to go on longer trips at least once every other year and leep on any adventure that’s handed to me, both small and big ones. Without travelling I feel trapped. To see and experience new things makes life so much bigger and helps me to widen my mind and actually makes me feel more at ease with myself and life.

This is a very old photo of mine. From before I developed my own sense of artistic practise and before I started travelling and going out in to the world by myself. This is from the forest near where I grew up. A classic winter photo. The fields in between the forest where my village lays and the nearest society always bathes in this mystically beautiful light. I’ven been taking photos of the fields almost on pure instinct without reflecting on it for years. This particular “island” of trees out in the field is where we in May every year lit up a huge bonfire to celebrate ‘Valborg’, or ‘Walpurgis eve’ if you so say, to acknowledge the returning of the sun after winter and sort of praise for the growths to take on. At least that’s the paganistic old explanation for the bonfires throughout the country on this night. Nowadays it’s almost just something for families with kids to watch and an excuse for teens to get wasted. It would take a whole novell to write down all the teenage memories from those nights.

This is Hanna, a semingly rough but very loveable girl from Holland with the same name as I, that I met when I was working at a self-sustainable charming ecofarm in the south of Portugal. She had been there for months longer than I and we joked about her everly flaking tan. This is after we the thirtheen workers had been cooking dinner together on one of the nights of and while the others sat in the hippiebuilt kitchen talking and drinking sweet portugese wine I dragged Hanna out into the fading night at the farm where only crickets were heard and chickens walked around in the bambooforest surrounding us.

We sat up one night down by the seashore at the stone beach in Nice, France, drinking wine, talking about life and I was through a couple of iPod speakers introduced to almost the entire oeuvre of Jimi Hendrix for the first time in my life. We had made it a thing to go out in to the dark sea and swim when everyone else was asleep. Floating around in a vast darkness looking up at the starfilled nightsky. And then warming up after with some more wine, talking for hours and hours.

I’m driving by myself out to my home village Bälgviken in the middle of Sweden, when I a bit outside of the nearest city, right after the last houses before the forest begins, am struck by how incredibly beaitiful it is in the mist and stop the car and go out to take this photo.

This is the first time I’m travelling by myself on a longer trip. I’m moving by train through Europe on a scholarship, looking at the world through my small pocket camera and with only one goal – to develop as a person. To be more daring. To get rid of the small part of the swedish saying that still had it’s grip of me – “Jantelagen” (The law of Jante), meaning that you’re not suppose to feel good about anything you do cause it’s considered unworthy and inappropriate to succeed as an individual, cause if you talk about it or even think about it you basically mean that you’re “better” than the rest, so you should just shrink yourself and shut up instead. It’s a very stupid and very true thing that still goes through everbodies minds up here in the north. This photo is somewhere in the beginning of the trip, still mostly gazing from a distance. I think I’m going down trough Spain to Lisbon, feeling totally free in being on my own surrounded by tens of thousands of interesting people and the endless amount of places to see. To travel on your own without destination with just a backpack, and in my case the camera – is almost total freedom.

I had travelled by train to the other side of the country to visit the person I was so madly infatuated with that at the time was living outside of Gothenburg. Full of insecurity, dreams and expectations I let him lead me up on a mountaintop while listening to his stories to watch the view over the city. When the photo was taken it was getting close to dusk and we were on our way down after hours of talking. By this I’ve realised that the infatuation is doomed to be crushed and I take a photo of him without him knowing it as a sad memorabilia of what had been, what it was and what it would never be.

For a whole night I had been awake far away up north in Sweden in this tiny community called Kramfors (which basically means the hugable river) at this festival filled with music called Urkult (which has a very ancient nordic sound to it). I had kept myself warm by a fire, staring for hours at drumplaying hands listening to different types of african music in the middle of the swedish forest. When the sun slowly started to rise behind the pine tree tops I started to walk towards the tent area. It was cold and everything was wet with dew, even though it was in the middle of summer.

I had gone one summer in a van with a couple of friends to a small and almost unknown music festival in the north of Sweden. There I met Ville. He had the deepest voice and talked about theatre and music as if it was the one meaning of life. He had skinny long fingers, his clothes were a bit trashed and his hair reminded me of a northern childrens book character called ‘Plupp’. I took his photo at the top of a valley overlooking a river in the morning mist. I remember it being almost wintery cold event though it was in the height of summer.

Me and my friend had driven and lived in a small Skoda car all the way down from Sweden to Portugal. This is a couple of weeks in when we decided to start working at a farm in Carrapateira at the Algarve coast in south of Portugal to get some proper food, be able to sleep elsewhere than in the car for a couple of nights and get a shower. On this day we decided to bring the farm dog and walk from the bamboohidden farm over the sand dunes that stretched for a couple of kilometers down to the sea shore to try and take a swim in the hot weather even though it was May and the water was freezing with high waves since it’s the water from the Atlantic.