Photographers On The Front Line

Photographers on the front line

They are always first on site, whether there’s a war, an uprising – or a pandemic. In all of Schibsted’s newspapers, the Corona crisis has put the photographers on the frontline. Future Report presents some of their pictures and Ebba Bonde, head of the visual department at Svenska Dagbladet, shares her experiences handling worry and the loss of a colleague.

”This is what we have trained for throughout our professional lives.”

The photographer Magnus Hjalmarsson Neideman sounds angry but is probably more frustrated by the anxious atmosphere that permeates the meeting. We are in the middle of a discussion about how the editorial staff’s photographers should be able to work safely in a reality where an invisible virus is spreading fast, and where the death toll rises rapidly day by day.

Have a look at some of all pictures, taken by photographers at Schibsted’s newspaper, covering the Corona crisis.

For everyone present in the online meeting, one of the thousands of the deceased is always in mind. A week earlier, our colleague Tomas ”Onis” Oneborg died as a result of Covid-19. No one knows how he was infected, if it happened on the job or in his spare time – shock and grief are unspoken, but present. There is a fragile atmosphere where the fear of infection is in strong conflict with the desire to practice one’s profession.

Perhaps the difference between press photographers and other photographers has been made clearer than ever this year. The press photographer’s task is often to describe in pictures the situations that are impossible for the reader to actually experience. In the process of taking pictures that help people understand and discover complex issues, the press photographer often encounters risks. But press photographers are also trained to think of safety. To prepare well. Calculate the degree of risk and at the same time analyze the type of image that captures that special moment.

April 2017: It’s almost exactly three years before the grief-stricken meeting in front of the computer screens. It’s one week until Good Friday. Tomas Oneborg takes pictures of Easter sweets in Hötorgshallen in Stockholm.

Suddenly he sees people rushing for their lives towards Sergels Torg.

Tomas picks up his camera, and starts running against the stream of panicked people, towards the place where something had happened.

Less than a minute later, ”Onis” arrived, as the first press photographer on site. The unique, important and later award-winning photos from the terrorist attack at Drottninggatan are a piece of Swedish history today. For him, it was obvious, a moment he had trained for in his ­entire professional life.

May 2020: SvD have been given the opportunity to report from the center of infection and horror: an intensive care department where the battle between life and death takes place. The discussion is marked by everything that has happened this spring: Are we exposing ourselves to infection? How will patients and relatives experience it?

Staffan Löwstedt’s pictures took the reader to one of those impossible places. The story caused huge positive reactions when it was published late May. Was it worth the risk? In retrospect, it’s easy to say ”yes”. But careful deliberations were the basis for this particular story.

It was one of the most important publications SvD made during the spring 2020. In the same period, it became more obvious than ever that a press photographer always needs to be well prepared – ethically and in terms of safety.

But the remit is still to be in the front.

Ebba Bonde

Ebba Bonde
Head of visuals at Svenska Dagbladet
Years in Schibsted
What I’ve missed the most during the Corona crisis
Hanging out with my parents