The Theater of Princess Grace is a photographic book that stands as a manifesto for children’s plays and summer memories, currently traveling throughout Europe as a solo exhibition
It was February 2020 when the pandemic of Covid-19 disrupted everyone’s working and personal lives. The photographer and creative director, Johan Sandberg, lived in Paris with his family.
Having the possibility to shuffle within countries, it didn’t take long for Sandberg to decide to move to Sweden temporarily. «We were living in France when lockdowns spread all over Europe. So we decided to leave for Sweden as my wife’s mother owns a couple of houses there. We stayed in a forest for six months in the Swedish countryside.» The choice to move to such a remote place has been safeguarded from the virus infection.
With the pandemic’s beginning, Sandberg did not have the chance to work physically as a photographer anymore. So while leaving for Sweden at the last minute, they did not have the opportunity to bring much stuff. However, his camera was among those primary objects he could not leave behind.
The theater of Princess Grace
Sandberg and his daughter created a story in a series of pictures, where lights dance with impressions and captured moments. Called The Theatre of Princess Grace, this story features Grace in trivial and playful situations, busy while entertaining herself. Re-invoking nostalgic days full of Grace’s fantasies, the pictures tell a story of a precious collaboration between father and daughter.
«Grace and I started taking pictures together as if it was a game, recreating her worlds, what she had in mind». Sandberg moreover confessed they didn’t have the chance to bring many stuff or toys with them to Sweden. Being Grace, the only child in the family, she played every day on her own, evoking new scenarios through her fantasy.
The pictures shot by Sandberg have a vintage feeling to them, gifted by the house environment and pastel walls. Nobody had lived there for more than thirty years. The place was full of the sixties to eighties furniture. Almost frozen in time and empty of technological developments, the house became the perfect spot to stimulate Grace’s creativity.
The helmet of intelligence
It is possible to see some of the toys she created at the exhibition, close to his father’s pictures. Accurately disposed on tables and standings, the objects stand out for their tridimensionality. The helmet of intelligence made out of lego blocks still intrigues Grace, who tries to wear it again. Surprisingly, she’s unable to fit in it as two years have already passed by.
Grace shines among dances and twirls on top of kitchen tables, with their black dog Freja as an attentive spectator. The pictures reflect brittle summer moments of life, a reminder of when she’ll become an adult. The spectator has the chance to deep dive into Grace’s world by gazing at Sandberg’s shots. The lightheartedness she emanates is palpable, even if it clashes with the mental effort she puts into her games.
It took some trials and patience for Sandberg to get some shots just as he imagined them.He remembered certain parts of the house would get specific sun beams or shadows at certain times. «It took three days to shoot Grace early in the morning with that specific blaze on herself and the walls. I knew at seven in the morning. I would catch the best rays of the sun. Grace is very expressive and naturally knows how to pose in front of a camera, but she is impatient. The picture evokes her feelings perfectly, as she stood there sulky for one-thousandth of a second. I had the chance to shoot one picture only, and that is the one that is now being exhibited».
Six to ten fourteen
The Theatre of Princess Grace was shot when Sandberg’s daughter was six years old. Besides recalling children’s journey in lockdown, the project operates as a chronological photo album. «I’d like to continue photographing Grace, building a journey through life phases. So after six years old, I’ll wait for her ten years old and then fourteen to photograph her again».
For Sandberg is essential not only a journey through life phases but also through crucial places of Grace’s existence. «Next year I want to travel to the South of Africa. My daughter, being adopted, is originally from those areas. So I’m excited to shoot her in such a place and see how she would respond».
The project originated very spontaneously as a recreational pursuit to kill the pandemic’s boredom while in another country. However, it wasn’t until a friend of Sandberg advised him to make it a book that he understood those pictures’ potential.
The photo collection was thus born and is currently moving throughout Europe with its exhibition and book. The first one was held in Paris, where the photographer is usually based with his family. Milan’s exhibition at A Studio Creative / Spazio 6 precedes the next one that will be held in Stockholm between the end of June and the beginning of July.
From business to photography
Sandberg’s career grew spontaneously from his passion for photography rather than his education. His studies concentrated on business, and when he graduated, he decided to take a gap year before starting to work. He traveled to Italy and began taking pictures of landscapes until a friend started modeling in front of his camera. That was when her agent asked Sandberg to shoot other models, and purely by chance, he started earning from his passion.
Sandberg’s passion for photography took shape when he was fifteen years old and has grown ever since. He would spend the entire night in darkrooms to work on his shots back then. Fast forward to today, he had the chance to collaborate with many fashion magazines, owning a name within the industry. Between black and white still life and celebrities, he reached his goal of owning enough to live by his passion.
Johan Sandberg is a Swedish photographer based in Paris, but his work allows him to travel worldwide. His photographic style is classic but with a clear contemporary point of view, defined by a less-is-more aesthetics. As Still Photographer and Director, Johan Sandberg works with still images and film and has shot music videos and commercials.