I meet a gentle giant of a man; he is trained to be a Ranger in the Swedish Lapland under the compulsory Swedish military service. Olof Jarlbro was born in Helsingborg in 1978. He is an impressive fearless person. He has recently returned from Syria, a war-torn Aleppo. There he covered the insurgent FSA – Free Syrian Army – struggles against the regime. Olof Jarlbro’s weapon is a camera.
A straightforward, honest and trustable man, I can imagine that he opens people’s heart and minds where ever he goes. His personality comes through in his photographs. People take him in their lives; share their food, homes, dreams and fears with him. That is what Olof Jarlbro documents.
He studied photography in New York and in the Academy of Performing Arts, in Prague. Today he lives in Bulgaria with his wife and two children. He spends much time travelling around the world but returns every year to Sweden with his family.
I am happy to learn to know him as we walk together from his hotel to the Finnish Photographic Museum in Helsinki. His exhibition, Stone factory attracted the attention of the National TV, Yle and was featured on the prime time evening news.
The workers of the stone mills live in small metal sheds on the factory grounds. They work from dawn to dusk. In one picture we see what appear to be a mother and her daughter, resting between the hard works. Another one shows women at their daily kitchen duties by the river. Life in this dusty place must slowly destroy their lungs. But there seems to be some calm serenity in these hard working women. Time seems to stand still in these images.
We part company; he turns and strides off towards his new adventures. To find out more about the photographer, please visit his website www.jarlbro.com
Text: Karin Toyoda