Lars Åke Palén

As a young employee at the major Swedish film studio Svensk Filmindustri in the late 1950s, Lars Åke Palén had a dream: to become a cinematographer. But although one would have thought he was in a perfect position to make that dream a reality, there was no possibility to get the right training there. Instead, Lars Åke started working as a photographer and was soon employed by the picture agency Kamerabild, which was the main supplier of photographs for the magazine publisher Åhlén & Åkerlund. This meant working for a variety of different magazines, not least the “teenage bible” of the times, Bildjournalen. “The assignments for the photo magazine Se and for Bildjournalen were my favourites”, says Lars Åke, who himself was fascinated by the cultural upheaval that was going on, with bands such as The Beatles and The Rolling Stones paving the way.

Innumerable assignments covering both Swedish and international artists – from Sven-Ingvars to Jimi Hendrix – followed. Sometimes there were almost bizarre clashes between the homespun Swedish artists and the international rock elite. “When Bill Wyman of The Rolling Stones was visiting Stockholm the record company had arranged for the light entertainment singers Lasse Berghagen and Lill-Babs to act as guides for Wyman when he was out shopping; a reporter and I tagged along”, recalls Lars Åke.

But his dreams of cinematography were still there and in 1968 Lars Åke finally began his training at a film school. This meant the end of his career as a photographer. In due course he was employed as a camera-man by Swedish Television and remained there for 30 years before he retired.
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