How did your interest in photography begin?

We grew up in nn home where photography was on every wall. Our father moved to Stockholm to work at photography magazine Kamera og Bild, which was then Bonniers bildbyrå.

When I was 9 years old, I got my first camera and developed my pictures in my Dad's lab. It was pure magic!

My brother Per then took the interest even further, gaining an education to become a professional photographer.

What made you start Forografiska at a time when most Swedes did not consider photography a high art form?

The idea came in 2007 when we sat thinking about what we would do next. At that time we were doing photo fairs and festivals, projects that we worked for a year on which then only lasted for three to four days. We wanted something more long-lasting.

When we did an exhibition of David LaChappelle's photographs on Nacka Strand (an area of Stockholm) the following year. It was a test to see if there was an interest in photography from the public. We were impressed with the footfall and we have two hundred press clippings. After that we wanted to do something permanent so that summer we wrote the business plan for Fotografiska.

Who was the first photographer you showed on Fotografiska?

At the first show in May 2010, we showed Annie Leibovitz, Lennart Nilsson, Joel-Peter Witkin and Vee Speers. After the opening ceremony and later Anders Petersen. Since then we have held over 170 exhibitions.

In some circles Fotografiska has been a described as an institution.

Fotografiska has never fit into the traditional sense of a museum, we are self-financed and make money from the business, we made it clear from the outset that we do not want any contributions.

A museum should have their own collection, does Fotografiska?


A few years ago when we first met the Barnebys team, we told you about the plans to open Fotografiska in cities around the world.

Next you're come to New York. Why has it taken so long?

It depends on different parameters. First, it's about finding the right location and right people to work with, and of course it's an economic issuetoo . It takes huge investments to do this, with everything from attorneys to refurbishment of premises.

Do you have ambitions to open in more cities?

Absolutely, maybe we will open another Fotografiska next year.

Fotografiska has undoubtedly succeeded in attracting a huge audience. How many visitors do you have per year?

We have no visitors at all, we have guests.

This year we will have about 530 000 guests visiting Fotografiska. This is comparable to, for example, Tate Modern, who had a million paying visitors last year.

What has been your most visited exhibition?

There is actually no exhibition that stands out, all exhibitions have their attraction.

Nick Brandt is the show that attracted a whole different audience. Families came, and with them the dynamics of the house changed. Most visited was Annie Leibovitz, but that was the opening exhibition for Fotografiska.

Will I recognize Fotografiska in New York and London?

You will recognize certain parts of the Stockholm residence, the shop, the exhibition halls, the black and white color scheme. While each building has its own character and feel.

In all places we will focus on sustainble pleasure, as we call it. That is, food and drink based on sustainability, but also how we work.

What do you think is the best exhibition you ever held at Fotografiska?

I often get that question, and I usually answer: next.

When you come to a new exhibition and it's just busy, you often get the feeling that it's the best we've done. That feeling is still in place, after seven years.

Berning and Di Battista are amongst out best shows we have held.

There is a definition confusion when it comes to the concepts of photo art and photography. What are your thoughts?

It depends on what it is. Photo art is a genre for me: there is documentary photography, art photography, scientific photography, fashion photography and so on. Everything is photography, but everything is not art. The technique itself is part of the art world today. You have to be a bit more pragmatic than putting everything in to categories, photography is so dynamic and so multifaceted.

How does the selection process work when you curate your exhibitions?

We have a group meeting once a quarter, reviewing proposals that have come in and the things we have put in our digital meeting environment and making a selection for the next two years. After that, the exhibition department's task is to contact the photographers and merge the legal agreements and choose which images are to be displayed.

Who is your competition? 

Time. We are always fighting for people's free time that spend at the cinema, at the pub, in front of the tv or at other museums.

What is it like working with your brother?

There is very little friction, I'd rather call it a perfect dynamic where two people's energy becomes another person's ability to work. we never lie in the decision process. Right now, Per is responsible for Fotografiska in Sweden while I am responsible for Fotografiska in New York.

What happens if Per calls it a day?

He won't do that. But if that happens then I'll continue what we started. Fotografiska is here to stay.