Rolf-Göran Åström (SE) "The Settler" - Helphoto 2023




The Settler
This is the story of Gabriella. It’s about choosing your path and living by your hands in an old way when war, inflation, food, and energy security dominate the headlines and the dream of a self-sufficient life off-grid seems less unreasonable.

Gabriella settled down in the forest outside a small village in Sweden some twenty years ago. She had finished a successful mountain bike career and made a living as a chef in fancy restaurants. But she wanted to live without schedules, mortgages and a boss.

First, she built a small cabin on borrowed land. In front of wondering neighbors, she learned to take down trees, build windows, care for animals, and grow vegetables. With horses, she can use the old harrow and take down the trees she needs without leaving scars on the ground. The dogs warm her bed at night and follow her during the day. No electricity. A simple well. Fire and candles light up the night.

With time more fields are cultivated, and a small barn is built. The main cabin is finished. She marries and divorces. More animals graze the meadows, and she delivers the best products that the restaurants in Gothenburg can hope for.

Once hundreds of thousands of people in Sweden left these kinds of small fields, searching for a better life in the city or over the sea to America. It is fascinating to imagine that a similar life they left behind now offers some a freer life far away from world events and metropolitan stress. However, the hardships of her life are far from the urban dream of the quiet life in the countryside.

This is a story about courage, strong hands, and determination.

Rolf-Göran Åström (b. 1976, Sweden) studied writing and speech at the University of Gothenburg and continued with Spanish in Zaragoza, Spain, and Cienfuegos in Cuba. Returning to Sweden, in 1999 he entered the medical faculty in Gothenburg, Sahlgrenska University. During his medical studies, he completed a project documenting the inside of the Thorax Surgery Department at Sahlgrenska hospital. The pictures got him signed to the biggest picture agency in Scandinavia – Scanpix/Pressens Bild. His texts and pictures have been published in various newspapers, magazines, books, and TV. In 2022, the result of his latest project was published in one of the biggest newspapers in Sweden, Göteborgs-Posten. In 2008, he settled down on Styrsö Island in the Southern Archipelago outside Gothenburg as a resident General Practitioner and part-time photographer. 

Rolf-Göran Åström (SE) "The Settler" - Helphoto 2023
Rolf-Göran Åström (SE) "The Settler" - Helphoto 2023