Mattias Fredriksson car-calls me from the middle of nowhere. That’s not unusual. In the almost 20 years we’ve worked together, I’ve amassed a large catalog of such calls.
Drives through northern Scandinavia are long and lonely, perfect for transacting writer-photographer business from the quietude of a vehicle. What is unusual is that as we dive into this phone call, I find myself remembering the less-sedate calls around which our partnership coalesced. For years I could count on an annual Mattias drunk-dial from, say, a loud heavy-metal party in his hometown of Åre, Sweden. He’d speak excitedly for five minutes about ski projects before we’d agree to talk another time. “You should be here!” he’d finish. Eventually I was, many times, as we worked together on numerous assignments.
Walking around Åre in a stylish hat and scarf, Mattias was hard to place as one of the most prolific ski and mountain bike photographers of our time. His dedication, talent and titanic work ethic (inherited from his mother, he believes) having boosted him to the highest echelons. Even then, his photography was a readily identifiable mix of quiet alpine moments and perfectly framed action, fusing subtleties of mountain light with the angular geometry of human motion.
Most action-sport photographers are hard workers, but from the beginning Mattias took it to a whole new level, one that could drive to distraction. Mattias can see a photo in his mind perfectly, and is never afraid to spend an extra hour—or three—to get it. Yet he isn’t just a taskmaster. He’s also a cheerleader with a heart of gold, honoring friendships with thoughtful gifts and prints of his best photos…