John Alinder’s portraits often show people looking straight into the camera. It’s as if they are looking into our eyes. As if their gaze could travel the century or so between their time and ours. His portraits are filled with the magic of chance while defining and liberating the subjects.
John Alinder was born in 1878 in Sävasta, in Altuna parish, a town in Uppland, in eastern central Sweden. He remained in the village his entire life. Instead of taking over his parents’ farm, he became a self-taught photographer and jack of all trades. He was also a music lover, holder of the Swedish agency for British record labels and gramophone brands. He operated an illicit bar from his home, and he even ran a country shop. During the 1910s and 1930s, he painted local people, landscapes, and ways of life. With the technology of glass plates, he often photographed them in their gardens and homes. He developed these in a small darkroom he built and made prints in the sunlight.
During the 1980s, a curator discovered Alinder’s collection, among other 8,000 glass plates stored in a library basement. Children on chairs, people in trees, laborers, confirmation candidates, and old ladies, usually against a background of lush vegetation and sunlight piercing foliage.