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Erik (middle), at the age of seven, with his friends Benny and Olof

Let’s start at the beginning...

E

Erik Johansson was born in 1935 outside a small town called Götene in southern Sweden and spent a happy childhood on a farm with his parents, Stefan and Christine, and his two younger sisters, Helga and Annie. It was at an early age that he discovered a love of drawing, probably thanks to the influence of his grandmother, who was a talented painter.

‘As much as I loved my family, when I think of childhood I think of being on the streets: kicking a ball with my friends, riding my bike, feeling alive...’

“I had a keen interest in sports at a young age and escaped to other worlds through playing football,” Erik recalled. “However, at the age of 15 I got my first camera, and this opened up a whole new world. Being used to drawing, it felt quite strange to be capturing a photo as it wasn’t the same process as creating a memorable drawing. “Having an interest in light made it a natural step to start playing around with the photos. It was a great way of learning – learning by trying. But I didn’t consider it as a profession until years later.” In 1950 he moved to Gothenburg to study drama, and it was in his teenage years that he reignited his interest in photography. He attempted to expand

his repertoire, moving out of his comfort zone to photograph people, and more importantly, their emotions. After publishing some of his images, he started to receive requests about commissioned work from local advertising agencies. “I started out freelancing in parallel with my studies while still working on personal projects,” he added. “I got more and more jobs and at the time I finished my studies with a masters degree in Interaction Design, I felt like I rather wanted to try out the photography path. “I moved to Norrköping in the eastern part of Sweden to start working full time as a freelance. I made new friends and got to work on interesting projects, both on a local and international basis. In early 1955 it was time for something new as I moved to Berlin, Germany. Living in such an artistic city provided me with lots of inspiration.” In Berlin, Erik worked on personal and commissioned projects, and in 1958 he also started doing photography street illusions. His

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