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Misty Swedish Archipelago

Exploring Stockholm's Coastline

Story by Lou Goetzmann April 25th, 2016

I’ve always dreamed of going on a photo trip to the beautiful Archipelago Islands surrounding Stockholm, the city I call home since August 2015. When I woke up early on this sunny Saturday morning, I made a quick decision to head out to Sandhamn, one of the most beautiful Archipelago Islands.

Sandhamn Island is widely known for its beautiful sandy beaches and an unspoiled pine forest in the interior. Apparently, it’s also the number one party destination for the yachting crowd during summertime. Which is why I would often evoke dry jokes when mentioning going there to my Swedish friends =). However, It wasn’t the high life I was after at all. I dreamed about getting out of the city and getting a full dose of Scandinavian nature.

I was heading to the ferry terminal connecting the (approximately) 24’000 Islands and Islets when the weather suddenly changed. Thick streams of mist enwrapped the ferry bus and with it, my dreams of photographing in the sun collapsed. The landscape now resembled a Scandinavian crime novel’s cover image.

I was considering turning around, but I had dreamed about this trip for such a long time, so it would have been a big letdown. I decided to stick to my guns and go for it, despite the misty weather conditions.


I was shooting the little islets appearing in the mist when suddenly a peculiar looking guy appeared behind me. Now it was only us both on the ferry deck, and the whole scene felt utterly cinematic (Breaking Bad?). I sneaked past him and got this snapshot.


After a while, Sandhamn Island finally appeared in the mist.


I disembarked the ship and started exploring the harbor. I was walking alone on the sandy beach and imagined how this place would feel in the summertime. I envisioned the smell of barbecues, loud music, children screaming, motor boats cruising by… But at that moment, the whole island looked frozen in time, just waiting for temperatures to rise again. A sudden eerieness crept over me and I felt compelled to capture it on film.


After my creative flow was stopped by my half-frozen fingertips, I stormed the only open harbor bar and ordered a cup of tea - much to the astonishment of the rest of the island’s population, which was about to get drunk at this exact bar at 16.00… =)

What followed was a guy walking into me, spilling my hot tea all over my arm. The dude looked like some kind of Swedish Sean Bean, so I initially thought I was getting into serious trouble! But in fact, he turned out to be a local resident and super friendly. In the following hour, he and his wife grilled me on my view on Swedish politics. It was really funny, but slightly awkward since I was the only sober guy at the table.

After escaping the bar, I headed into the interior to shoot the beautiful pine forest. It is protected from settlements by law, so that’s why you won’t see any houses after a while. Just pines. Everywhere. It was even quieter in there, like “hearing your own heart” quiet. I crept myself out by imagining Swedish Sean Bean looking serial killers roaming these woods. It was, after all, the perfect setting.


Shortly before sunset, I headed back on a path to the harbor and embarked the ferry to Stockholm. Frozen-through but happy I sat in the lounge and watched the Archipelago sink into darkness.

Footnote: All of the images in this story were shot on a Leica M6 with a mix of Fuji Superia 400 and Kodak Portra 160. The film was developed and scanned by the great people at
Sandhamn, Schweden