Sweden’s photographers Part 1: Stefan Akander is giving football a face in the Far North

For the past few years, if you want good action photos of Sweden’s Superserien games, one of the names that always pops up is Stefan Akander.

Although based in Stockholm and a regular photo chronicler of the Stockholm Mean Machines, Akander has traveled throughout Sweden, recording the growth of American football in this Scandinavian country.

Fredrik Pilbäck, head coach of the defending Swedish champions, the Stockholm Mean Machines:

Stefan does a great job as a sport photographer. He is helping the program in a best possible way. His pictures are a significant contribution to what people love about the game

In our continuing series about the photographers who diligently cover our game throughout Europe, we have arrived in Sweden. Previously we have interviewed Germany’s Sarah Philipp, Finland’s Jari Turunen, Italy’s Gioli Busi, Lola Morales from SpainDenmark’s Mikkel Bo Rasmussen, and Michael Freitag also from Germany.

Stockholm Mean Machines quarterback Mark Pappas getting off a pass against the Örebro Black Knights

AFI: How did you get into photography?

Akander: I started 26 years ago with a small digital pocket camera. But 12 years ago, I bought my first Canon digital camera from my brother and started to go out more and more to take photos. I had to buy three new camera bodies after that and a few lenses.

AFI: What attracted you to American football and when did you start photographing the games?

Akander: I went to the field around seven years ago to meet an old friend because his son was there playing in a game. I had brought my camera just to try it out at the same time. And I got a few good shots and shared them with the football team. It was fun and they liked the photos. So, I went to the next game and then some more with Stockholm Mean Machines. And now I’m trying to follow them at every game.

Team Sweden LB Benjamin Kennedy Chaanhing heading for endzone in game against Denmark

AFI: Is photography your full-time job?

Akander: No, I have a full-time job, so photography is just a fun hobby.

AFI: What is the part that you find the most satisfying about your ‘job’ as a photographer?

Akander: When people (and myself) appreciate the photos. And when I see they use my photos.

Calrstad Crusaders Niko Lester heading up field in game against Stockholm Mean Machines

AFI: Do you take a different approach when photographing American football games?

Akander: Photographing animals like eagles or bears is one thing but taking photos of American football is another thing altogether. Still, both are amazing.

AFI: Tell us a little bit about a typical game day.

Akander: For a typical game day, I start preparing the day before and I have a checklist. Check the equipment. Check what the weather is going to be. Try to be at the field at least 2 hours before kickoff. Start to take photos when the warmup, so I can adjust the camera to the settings I think I going to be good. Then shoot the game and a few shots after. And then when I come home, try to start editing all the photos.

But many times, you are very tired after a game, so you wait until the next day. Sometimes I travel around and take photos of two or three games on the same day. But after that, you only want to sleep and do the editing the day after 😀

AFI: How do you see the growth of American football in Sweden?

Akander: I see that the sport is growing slowly but surely.

Next time you’re at a game in Sweden, check the sideline. You will no doubt see a familiar figure prowling from one end to the other, snapping away.

American Football International is your source for news and updates about American Football outside the United States!