STHLM Subway Portrait Project

Lola A. Åkerström catches up with photographer Evan Pantiel – creative mastermind behind the STHLM Subway Portrait Project.

All photos courtesy of Evan Pantiel

All photos courtesy of Evan Pantiel

“Can I only show one side of my face? I got hit by a cyclist two weeks ago. I got four stitches in my mouth. I was lucky.”…Johanna 35, Economist.

“Right now I live in söder. I have been living there for four years, but I don’t like it. I miss my old neighbourhood where you were friends with your neighbours and said hello.”…Sebastian 27, Human Resources.

“I am taking a special course in environmental law currently. But right now I am in the panicky moment of my life where I can’t decide what path to choose. I have 1.5 more years left and I just want to be done with it.”…Anna 22, Law Student

“The best thing about Ethiopia was the weather. But if you want to get some real authentic Ethiopian food go to Gåjo in Skanstull.”…David 36, Unemployed

“I like paperback books because I am old fashioned that way. Have you read 50 shades of grey? I try to stay as far away as possible from that.”…Patrik 34, Book Buying Business.

These are just a few micro-stories from the stunning portrait series called the STHLM Subway Portait Project which aims to document a diverse cross-section of people that travel Stockholm’s Tunnelbana subway system on a daily basis. A project which showcases a much more diverse and true-to-life Stockholm than many travelers might expect when visiting.

So I caught up with photographer Evan Pantiel for a quick Q&A session to learn a bit more about this exciting project.

STS: What inspired you to start this project?

PANTIEL: Coming to Sweden several years ago as an outsider, I noticed many things Swedes who lived here perhaps overlooked or were oblivious to. What I found fascinating was that each of the subway lines culturally represented a different subset of people. Each colored line had its own unique individual style that accompanied it.

This was the base idea for the project and why I began it. Following this, I began to document the different subway stations and the people who rode the lines.

I setup a website,, where you could go and individually see the people that rode the red, green, and blue lines. In addition to taking their portaits, I would sit and talk with them for a bit to get some backstory about the individual. It was a great experience meeting different people. Everyone had their own personal story and struggles they were going through in life.


How long has the project been going and what has been the reception so far?

About seven months now on/off weather permitting. People are pretty open to the idea and find it interesting once I explain the idea.

What are your dreams for the project?

To successfully get a large sample from every subway stop in Stockholm. Put it all together and make it a book. But that is a distant goal as there are still many stations I have not yet visited.

Any other cool projects you’re working on?

Unfortunately no. With full time work and a girlfriend, this project gets the remaining free time I have available.

You can read a more in-depth interview about Pantiel’s project on Get Totally Rad.

About Evan Pantiel

Evan Pantiel moved to Sweden from California eight years ago to get his Masters degree. Today, he’s a freelance reportage and lifestyle photographer based in Stockholm.

Photographer Evan Pantiel

Photographer Evan Pantiel

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Author: Lola A. Åkerström

Lola Akinmade Åkerström is an award-winning writer, photographer, and travel blogger, and is also the Founder/Editor-in-chief of Slow Travel Stockholm. Her photography is represented by National Geographic Creative. She tweets at @LolaAkinmade.

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