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Hampus Lundgren, 2012

Årets Bild: The Swedish Press Photography Awards

Photo journalist Hampus Lundgren recounts the chaotic moments after Anders Breivik's Oslo bomb went off in July 2011, killing eight people

On 22nd of July 2011, Norweigian right wing extremist Anders Breivik detonated a car-bomb in Oslo killing eight people and injuring 92. Two hours later he killed 69 people - mostly teenagers - on the small Norwegian island of Utøya. Photo journalist Hampus Lundgren’s stirring images of the unfathomable events perpetrated by Breivik, have been awarded best press photo of 2012 in Sweden. This summer, Gallery Kontrast in Stockholm is exhibiting Lundgren’s work, alongside a collection of Sweden’s most influential press photography.

The annual press photography competition - known as 'Årets Bild' - grew out of tradition that began in the 1940s. Each member of the Swedish Press Photographers Club (Pressfotograferna’s Klubb) brought a photograph to their Christmas dinner. Over tea and biscuits the members voted for their favourite image.

Herman Ronninger, the first official winner, was awarded by the group in 1942. His photograph of a man selling pots during bitterly cold weather was published in the Svenska Dagbladet newspaper. Over the years 'Årets Bild' has grown to become Sweden’s most prestigious photo competition and now includes different categories.

All the winning photographs from 1942-2012 are included in this year's comprehensive collection. Visitors have the opportunity to see classic images like Hasse Carlbaum’s 'Angel Wings', featuring the late Prime Minister Olof Palme, as well as Joakim Berglund's fascinating 'Magical Tree'. We spoke to Lundgren about his experiences that day...

I don’t remember much about it because I was on auto-pilot and, after about fifteen minutes, decided it would be safer to evacuate the area. I was afraid another bomb would be detonated or a building would collapse

Dazed Digital: Describe what happened at the time of the attacks?
Hampus Lundgren: I was working in Oslo for a small local newspaper called Vårtland. Our office was located in the government quarter which was about 100 meters from the blast. I was sitting at my desk, beside a window, when I heard an explosion and saw a huge fireball erupting from the square below.

Windows shattered all around us so my colleagues and I evacuated the building immediately. Fortunately none of us were seriously injured.

It happened so quickly I didn’t have time to think but it was obvious that a bomb of some sort had been detonated. I was one of the first photographers on the scene and quickly set about taking photographs of the aftermath. It was terrifying.

DD: Did you realise the significance your photos would have while taking them?
Hampus Lundgren:
No. I was one of the first photographers to arrive on the scene. However, four other newspapers are located in the area and other members of the media arrived shortly afterwards. I don’t remember much about it because I was on auto-pilot and, after about fifteen minutes, decided it would be safer to evacuate the area. I was afraid another bomb would be detonated or a building would collapse.

DD: At age 24 you are one of the youngest photographers to be awarded Press Photograph of the year. How does it feel to have your work recognised in this way?
Hampus Lundgren: I really appreciate it. However, it’s surreal that it's happened so early in my career. It was totally unexpected.

DD: Are you interested in other genres of photography?
Hampus Lundgren:
I make a living from press photography and reportage but am also interested in other genres. I actually started off by taking photos of birds and landscapes. Later, when I began studying photography I realised I enjoyed taking photos of people’s daily lives and telling stories through pictures. That’s why I got into reportage. I intend on doing more portrait and fashion photography in the future – perhaps I can combine this with my reportage style.

DD: Do you have any advice for those interested in pursuing a career in photography?
Hampus Lundgren:
 I had to work extremely hard to get where I am. If you are ambitious and enjoy yourself everything will work out eventually.

Check out the image gallery selection of previous winners, some of then with notes from the jury, below:

1) 2012:  Oslo, Norway July 22 2011. The car-bomb that Anders Behring Breivik detonated in the government quarter of the capital killed eight people and injured 92. Two hours later he killed 69 people on the small island of Utøya. Photo by Hampus Lundgren.

2) 2010: U.S. President Barack Obama listens in conjunction with the European CommissionPresident Barroso, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Prime Minister of Sweden Fredrik Reinfeldt, French President Nicolas Sarkozy and British Prime Minister Gordon Brown at Danish Prime Minister Lars Rasmussen at the final stage of the UN COP15 Climate Summit in Copenhagen. The chairman of the meeting, Lars Løkke Rasmussen, tried this late Friday evening of 18 december to get the leaders of EU and U.S. to informally agree at a common position for the final negotiations. Photo by Henrik Montgomery.

3) 2008: This is where the green, environmentally “correct” fuel for our cars in Sweden is produced. Sugarcanes are burned in ethanol giant Cosans facility outside Sao Paolo,Brazil. The black smoke is dangerous for the environment and cause respiratory problems and asthma. In 2007, ethanol consumption in the Swedish transport. Sector increased by 38 percent over the previous year. 80 percent of the ethanol used in Sweden is imported in particular from Brazil. Photo by Karl Melander.

4) 2006: After the storm called "Gudrun" which hit the south of Sweden 2005. The pattern appeared when all the pine trees that fell were transported away. Photo by Joakim Berglund.

5) 2005: After the tsunami. Two bodies lay on the beach in Khao Lak, Thailand, pending for identification. This year's Image 2005 is an almost surreal sight, even though everything in the picture is so simple and clear. Water, sky, sand, palm trees and overturning two wrapped bodies… The picture contains so little and yet so much. Who could imagine that an ordinary day at the beach would end like this? Photo by Stefan Berg.

6) 2000: The world's most ravaged country. The Taliban took over the power six years ago in Afghanistan. The new men took over a war ruin, and a ruin it has remained. School Bargrami outside the capital Kabul is like a symbol of devastation. Inside a robbed ruined the small boys learn to read. There is hope; but around is the dilapidation and resignation. The future perspectives are short and dark. Photo by Paul Hansen.

7) 1992: "The face of the racist pigs" - On the way back from an annual demonstration on November 30, 1992 in Salem, south of Stockholm city. Photo byS-E Sjoberg.

8) 1965: Olof Palme, at this time he was the Minster of Transportation and Communication. He became Swedish Prime Minister before being murdered in 1986. Photo by Hasse Carlbaum.

9) 1950: J-21,  a new plane in the Swedish Air Force, testing its missiles. Photo by Bo Dahlin.

Årets Bild, Galleri Kontrast, Hornsgatan 8, 118 20 Stockholm