All photos by Klas Falk. Used with Creative Commons permission.
Subcultures are fascinating documentary photography subjects to explore and shed light on, and there’s always one waiting to be uncovered. A perfect example is the dreamy series of Stockholm-based Klas Falk, which features today’s Swedish take on the “Greaser” youth subculture that emerged in the 1950s and 1960s. If you’re looking for inspiration on photographing unique and popular subcultures, this series could give you some ideas.
For the unfamiliar, Falk has a primer on the Greasers. The predominantly youth subculture of the 1950s originated among the young northeastern and southern United States street gangs. Their style and subculture eventually became popular among the other groups as an expression of rebellion. Among the most recognizable elements of their style is the greased-back hairstyle achieved by combing the hair with wax, gel, creams, tonics, or pomade. The name “greaser” soon stuck.
“The term ‘greaser’ reappeared in later decades as part of a revival of 1950s popular culture. Although the greaser subculture was largely a North American youth phenomenon, there were similar subcultures in the United Kingdom, Australia, Italy and Sweden,” Falk continued.
Much of what he captured in his Swedish Greasers series shows a reverence for the subculture, not only in the fashion sense but also the rides that became popular during the original Greaser era and its cultural revival as part of 1950s nostalgia. While Falk’s snaps mirror more modern times and look vibrant in color, it’s easy to imagine this being even more interesting and reminiscent of the subculture’s origins in black and white. This series is a testament to the enduring legacy of the Greaser subculture, unsavory as the roots may have been. It’s an interesting peek into how it remains alive today, not only in the United States but practically anywhere with a taste for 1950s nostalgia.