beautiful november

November was, weird as it may seem, beautiful, in hindsight and while it happened. It ended in a few mornings covered in silver glitter and I was outside a lot, walking in the mornings and afternoons, trying to get as much daylight as I could. Here's what I saw:

I cherish my ability to appreciate beauty. I find I store it well, too; and I know that there will be crisp beautiful days like these again soon, even though we need to get through some clouds first.

Boy Meets Girl | Waiting for a Star to Fall

my christmas playlists

A few friends who know I am a fierce lover of Christmas music have asked for playlists. I have seven themed playlists that I rotate according to my needs and you are very welcome to enjoy them too, if you want!

You should know before we dive in, however, that the longer I work with music (and listen to, create, interpret, perform, decipher, study, discuss and discover music), the less interested I am in judging it. And Christmas music is a wonderful place to love music with reckless abandon; to throw oneself into the warmest chords, the most clichéd themed and phrases, the most expressive voices, the most energetic bells and brass and the most cheerful swing. And it makes me happy. It's not superficial, either; it's actual, true joy. (I started listening to Christmas music in November this year, earlier than I normally would, and the strange thing is ... it worked. To me, there's joy in Christmas music that I've stored there during previous Christmases; it lies there slumbering, waiting, ready for me to take it out when I need it. If that's not magic I don't know what is.)

My playlists have Hanson and Polyphony and Ella Fitzgerald and Oscar Peterson and Otis Redding and Magnetic Fields and Rachmaninov and Bing Crosby and Keb' Mo' and Ingrid Michaelson and Sufjan Stevens and Justin Bieber and Sofia Karlsson and Dianne Reeves and Elvis Presley and Pentatonix and Peter Jöback and the Real Group and Sibelius and Praetorius and Dinah Washington and much more, and I love it all. I hope you will too.

Festligt julmys is my allround Christmas list. Cozy music for having guests over, or baking gingerbread or decorating the tree or just puttering around at home.

Peppig jul is like festligt julmys but faster. :) Energetic stuff for cleaning and crazy dancing and power walks, and a million versions of Jingle Bells and Sleigh Ride, because apparently people like to play them fast!

Stilla julnatt is probably the type of Christmas music I'd miss the most if I couldn't have any Christmas music at all. This is the playlist for late at night, when you're up reading and eating chocolate by the Christmas tree when everyone else has gone to bed. For late slow conversations with loved ones, for thinking about people you used to know and suddenly missing them intensely and hoping that they are the happiest they have ever been right now, for knowing in your core that everything will be okay in the end.

Adventslistan is usually the start of my Christmas music season; I listen to advent music before I'm ready to pull out all the Christmas stops. Advent music has its own range from soft and quiet to full on brass and choir party. I like it. Also, every other song on this list is Bereden väg. Because it's the best.

Kristins bästa julkör is, I think, my oldest list and has remained mostly unchanged since 2013. As you know, choral singing is close to my heart whether Christmas themed or not, and there's such variation to find within this genre: there's 400 years of Christmas music in here, all of it performed by the wonder that is the human voice. What's not to like?

Julswing is everything that makes me want to swing dance (although a few of the songs are more for boogie woogie than lindy or bal). It's a short list of songs I've gathered when I've been asked to DJ for a Christmas swing social here or there, and I quite like to be able to put on just Christmas music that swings at home, even when I'm not dancing.

Julblues is like julswing but blues. :)

Let me know if you have recommendations for any or all of these lists! I'm always up for finding new favourites.

början av november

Början av november känns redan som en evighet sedan, för att det var så annorlunda då - då när vi fortfarande trodde att det gick bra att träffas inomhus i våra smågrupper, så länge man bara träffade samma smågrupp. Nu har vi slutat med det, men här är i alla fall några bilder från då.

Första helgen i november var Liam och jag på balboakurs. (Bara det!) Vi var sju par i stora salen, vi roterade inte mellan paren (alltså man dansade bara med den man anmält sig med) och vi satt långt ifrån varandra och åt lunch. Det kändes huuur säkert som helst. Men. Kanske inte. Roligt var det hur som helst, Oskar och Nina var fantastiska lärare, och jag är glad att vi gick.

En tisdag hade jag Lisa, David och Marie hemma på spelkväll.

Vi spelade Everdell, eftersom jag fick det i födelsedagspresent men så sällan får möjlighet att spela det. Världens finaste spel!

En lördag hade vi häng i Utby och började med våffelbrunch. Lisa experiementerade med chokladvåfflor, men det var inte så gott som det lät. Vanliga våfflor däremot och de två favoritkombinationerna: vaniljglass + kolasås + hackade jordnötter, samt lakritsgrädde + rivet citronskal. Sjukt gott alltså.

Sedan gick David, Marie, Lisa och jag ut på promenad medan de andra slappade. :)

Brädspel på eftermiddagen, här Camel Up som var heltokigt men roligt. :)

Och sedan kollade vi på Hoodwinked och Hercules tills det blev natt. ("Mer chips!") Det var en himla fin dag och tänk att det bara ett par veckor senare skulle kännas som en avlägsen lyx att träffas såhär?

Och så repade jag med mitt the Sky is Crying. För ...

... vi hade ju gig! Vi livestreamade på facebook och det var så himla himla kul. Jag önskar att jag hade kunnat ta bilder samtidigt som jag sjöng ... men det går ju inte. :) Det här är en knastrig stillbild från filmen bara. Vi var hemma hos Gustav (pga flygel och eldstad, förstås) och det blev precis så mysigt som vi önskade oss. Och jättemånga som kollade och lämnade superfina kommentarer; efteråt var vi ense om både att vi inte hade trott att det skulle kännas så fint och nära trots att publiken var på andra sidan skärmen, och om att vi kommer leva på det här länge. Det kommer jag. Det gör jag.

James McAlister, Sufjan Stevens, Bryce Dessner, Nico Muhly | Mercury

I miss photographing dance events

I miss shooting dance events.

I didn't think I would. I had started to feel like I'd had my fill. That was mostly, in all honesty, because of the money.

I had started to think of dance photography as my way of putting something back into the community. Every dance photographer knows that very few events can afford to pay an actual, real life photographer fee. So I saw it as part time paid work and part time volunteering. Other dancers give so much back to the community through volunteering - so I can too.

This decision of mine, to accept less money and do it partly to give back ... It clashed "a little" with some event organisers going "you want to get paid ... this much?" I have already lowered my fees by A LOT, and am essentially asking for the lowest fees I can survive on. Organisers thinking that they can just give me a free ticket to the event as payment ... that means I'm essentially paying to work. There is a common misunderstanding that as a photographer, I will also have time to dance and enjoy the event. I'm sure some people can do that, but I can't. I'm either working, or not; jumping between is too hard.

Another mistake organisers make is they think they are just paying me for the time I spend at the event. But it takes much longer to sort through and process my photos, than to actually take them. Not to mention the (quite expensive) equipment, taxes, website fees ... Where is that money supposed to come from?

I have to mention here that far from all organisers do this! Some have already budgeted to pay a decent amount of money for good photography (yay!). Some say "I'm sorry, we can't afford that". That is obviously totally okay! I know how hard organisers have to struggle to make ends meet. It's the ones claiming that I'm being unreasonably expensive that started to really grind my gears. It wears you down, putting SO much time and effort into delivering good work, just for people to be surprised (or even rude) that you want and need to get paid for the work you do. In short: I was starting to feel used, and I sucked the joy out of photography for me.

And then all dance events disappeared and slowly, slowly I started to miss it.

I started looking back at my photos and thinking "this work isn't actually so bad".

I remembered the joy of capturing a moment that feels real and unexpected

or rehearsed and tweaked into perfection

and I love it all.

I missed capturing the comps,

the shows,

the learning,

the hanging out,

the jam circles,

the music,

the connection,

but most of all

the joy.

There's such joy in photography for me. Through having other people devaluing my work, I started devaluing it, too. And then, because of the pandemic, I became separated in time from the negative experiences I had ... But the positive ones shine as brightly as ever. And I can't wait to do it again. I can't wait. I just need to remember that I know the value of my own work. Even when others don't.

(I told Liam about this and he joked that "you started to feel used and now that it's been a while, the negative feelings have subsided and you're ready to be used again?" to which I didn't know what to say ... other than ... I hope it won't be like that.)

(The photos in this post are favourites from 2019 and early 2020. Here are favourites from 2017 and 2018.)

Also, while I'm at it, and since you're here: Yes, I think it's problematic that I have been, and still want to continue, making money off of a culture that is not inherently my own. I'm still trying to navigate this and I'm not sure yet what to do. I don't think that I'll reach the conclusion that the right thing to do is to stop dancing entirely. It might be the case that the right thing to do is to stop doing dance photography. While I'm figuring it out, I feel that the best course of action is to donate to anti-racism charities. Please let me know if you have other ideas or think I could be acting differently, and have the spoons to help me with this!

Ella Fitzgerald with Chick Webb and His Orchestra | Love and Kisses