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Nikon Ambassador Joel Marklund Documents Sweden's Sami People

Joel Marklund has been documenting the Sami people, with powerful portraits using Nikon kit.

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Joel Marklund

Ola Stinnerbom, Sami artist and drum maker, poses for a portrait on February 16, 2017 in Sunne, Sweden.

Joel Marklund / BILDBYRÅN February 16, 2017. Nikon D5 | 1/2000 sec. f/1.4 35 mm | ISO 100 | AF-S NIKKOR 35mm f/1.4G


Nikon European Ambassador Joel Marklund has recently completed a project documenting the Sami people of Sweden through a series of captivating portraits. 

Armed with his D5 and Nikkor lenses he aimed to go beyond the stereotypes of the community and showcase their everyday lives. 

The Sami people traditionally inhabit a territory known as Sápmi, which traverses the northern parts of Norway, Sweden, Finland and the Russian Kola peninsula. Although divided by the formal boundaries of the four States, the Samis exist as one group, united by cultural and linguistic bonds and a common identity. Joel wanted to communicate the true nature of this identity and move beyond surface-level perceptions of ‘reindeer herders living in the mountains’.


Joel Marklund

Maxida Märak, artist, poses for a portrait on March 18, 2017 in Stockholm, Sweden. Joel Marklund / BILDBYRÅN

March 18, 2017. Nikon D5 | 1/640 sec. f/1.4 35 mm | ISO 50 | AF-S NIKKOR 35mm f/1.4G - Joel Marklund / BILDBYRÅN


"The best stories aren’t always the ones in the most exotic or remote locations,” comments Marklund. “I was determined to cover something I believed in, something that really mattered to me. The Sami story has not been told by many so, having grown up in Boden near to where some of their communities resided, it was one I felt both compelled and humbled to tell."

To document what it is like to live as a Sami today in Sweden, Joel spent six weeks visiting the community, embedding himself in the lives of twelve of its people – from singers and dancers to drum makers and students – to tell their individual stories. During the project, he paired the D5 with the AF-S NIKKOR 35mm f/1.4G, AF-S NIKKOR 50mm f/1.4G and AF-S NIKKOR 70-200mm f/2.8G ED VR II.

Joel’s images reveal the Sami people in both their traditional environment, wearing traditional clothing called ‘gákti’, and their day-to-day working lives that are more intertwined with the rest of society. This cultural contrast runs through the series.

Joel Marklund

Ola Stinnerbom plays a traditional instrument on February 16, 2017 in Sunne, Sweden. Joel Marklund / BILDBYRÅN

February 16, 2017. Nikon D5 | 1/100 sec. f/2.0 35 mm | ISO 1250 | AF-S NIKKOR 35mm f/1.4G


Marklund concludes, "I had to do justice to these people, so having the right equipment was crucial. The AF-S NIKKOR 35mm f/1.4G and AF-S NIKKOR 70-200mm f/2.8G ED VR II are perfect for reportage photography, while the AF-S NIKKOR 50mm f/1.4G was fantastic for shooting in low light conditions."

Joel Marklund is a renowned photographer who specialises in sports imagery. Based in Stockholm, he is currently Chief Photographer at Sweden’s number one sports photography agency, Bildbyran. Joel has worked in more than 45 different countries and covered numerous global events, including five Olympic Games. He has published his work all over the world and won multiple awards for his images. These include Picture of the Year International, NPPA Best of Photojournalism and the Swedish Picture of the Year Award.

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