Camilla is one of the world's most sought-after fashion and beauty photographers. Leaf through the pages of such fashion heavyweights as Vogue, Porter, and Harpers Bazaar, and you'll soon come across a Camilla Åkrans image.
A regular photographer for international brands like Hermes, Jil Sander and, Missoni, Camilla has worked with household names like Zoe Kravitz, Nicole Kidman, and Julianne Moore, building an impressive body of work that has been exhibited around the world.
Had Camilla followed her original path, things might have turned out differently. "Originally, I wanted to be an artist, but when I started applying to schools, I realized there was this thing called a 'graphic designer' so I went to art school to do that."
Pretty soon, however, photography came into view. "During the course, I was encouraged to do various internships to learn about all aspects of the profession, and I thought understanding photography might be useful for when I eventually graduate to work in an agency." Luckily, Camilla had a friend who knew a photographer, and an internship was arranged. "I worked for her and sort of... never left."
"So my way into photography wasn't like there was a camera at home; it came from a love of imagery and pictures in general; that's what drew me in. Then when I started to understand the potential of what a camera can do and the magic of the darkroom where I could develop the film and create my own prints, well, from then on I was hooked."
Camilla's spent her early years assisting, "Often photographers resist having a female assistant because it's physical work. You have to carry the equipment, set it up, break it down - do it all over again. But there's no better way to get a sense of the industry and all aspects of the craft. It's valuable exposure to all sorts of lighting problems, issues, and scenarios that can happen on set. And that makes you better equipped to deal with them later on when they happen to you - it's learning by doing."
Working as an assistant led to Camilla becoming a photographer in her own right. "I was committed and persistent. I took risks, I went to New York on my own, for example, to find someone to represent me. You need to work hard to earn your first commission and then even harder to make the most of it when it arrives. It's a different world now with all the online magazines and Instagram; it's easier for younger photographers to get their work out there and noticed - it's a good thing."
Finding her voice
"In those days, I was inspired by other great female photographers like the French photographer Sarah Moon and the Americans, Sally Mann and Louise Dahl-Wolfe. Especially Louise; I found her images to be so romantic and poetic in the way they celebrate the female form." Beyond those female photographic greats, Camilla started to find inspiration in other places.
For Camilla, inspiration frequently comes from less tangible things like a mood or an emotion. "I try to capture a feeling, like a first love, a first kiss, or that first sense of a Swedish summer - I guess that's why where possible, there's always a feeling of nature or something organic in the images I create - it sort of brings them to life."
Of course, being Swedish also influences Camilla's work. "I like things to be relatively minimal and natural, not overly contrived, and that's especially true of the light I shape for my images."
"It doesn’t matter where in the world I’m shooting, it could be New York or Los Angeles, but wherever I am, I always try to bring a feeling of the light you get here in Sweden. It's clean, clear, and crisp, and with Profoto, I can recreate that unique quality of light wherever I happen to be shooting."
Nowhere is that showcased better than in a shoot Camilla recently did with Profoto using Profoto’s flagship flash the Profoto Pro-11. "I'm Swedish, Profoto is Swedish, and I always use Profoto so, I liked the idea of creating a shoot that celebrated Swedish tradition. That way, I could combine elements of nature, design, romance, and of course, that unique Swedish light that I bring with me everywhere - it was a lot of fun."
Below, we see a glimpse inside of Camilla's camera bag. Made all the more human by the addition of flowers.