About Atelier Smedsby 

Founded by JH Engström and Margot Wallard in 2012, Atelier Smedsby is an innovative school of photography taught through workshops that take place over the course of one year.  The Atelier was one of the first of its kind in both implementing the long term format and offering the possibility for participants to remain wherever in the world they reside, due to the partial online format of the course. The program was born out of the 20 years of short term workshops that Engström and Wallard instructed. They found that often after the workshops were over, the work had only just begun, and a longer term program was needed to further develop the particpants’ work. 
JH Engström and Margot Wallard built Atelier Smedsby, a one-year program dedicated to the development of photographers' projects through both online and in person meetings throughout the year. Thanks to both their extensive experience and international network, JH Engström and Margot Wallard have honed their craft and skill in guiding artists through their individual creative journeys.  Many artists who have taken part in Atelier Smedsby have made their work into concrete books and exhibitions, stemming from the guidance of Wallard and Engström.

We pride ourselves in having taught individuals from all seven continents, and with all ages. Atelier Smedsby is a space where experimentation is encouraged, and all photographic approaches are welcome. 

The objectives of the course are:
- Identify each participant's visual language and define their photographic approach.
- Encourage participants to realize both personal and assigned projects.
- Help to develop, realize, and finalize each participant's project.
- Learn to critique the work of others, and one's own, at both theoretical and practical levels.
- Find methods both for photographing and editing the participant’s work for either books or exhibitions.
- Give artistic advice on how to present your work to applications, galleries, and publishers
- Our most important objective is to increase the artistic independence for each and every participant.

The workshop takes place in Montreuil, just outside of Paris.

 JH Engström

Born in Karlstad in 1969, JH Engström is a Swedish photographer and video artist. He lives and works in Montreuil, France.

JH Engström first grew up in the remote province of Värmland in central Sweden until the family moved to Paris when he was 10 years old. An overwhelming change that prompted him early on to look at his own existence, forging a vision rooted in these contrasting living environments opposing the slow-time energy of the Swedish countryside to the exaltation of Parisian life. In 1993, he settled in Stockholm where he shared the lab with Anders Petersen, a leading figure with a determinant influence in the expressive dimension of his work. He applied these precepts at the Gothenburg University school of photography until 1997 before moving to New York between 1998 and 2000 where he spent time at Robert Frank’s studio. 

Engström’s practice is based on the bypass of all rules and advocates great freedom of style. Feeling at ease with the instantaneous as much as with the staged frame, a virtuoso of the black and white and of color, he masters the accident and toys with techniques to question photography itself.  In the years 2000-2010, his forms of representations evolved to combine various means including installation, video, books and writing as a way to abolish hierarchies between the images and introduce an ethereal lyricism into his work. 

An intuitive approach that conceals a very personal reading of the world in which the autobiographical exploration is central. JH Engström demonstrates that all things carry vital energy within, that solitude and empathy, feelings of safety or on the contrary, vulnerability, are experienced every day. Hence, each portrait or self-portrait, still life or landscape, holds a sum of recollections and constitutes an intimate, visual and poetic journal that addresses each and every one. In 2012, JH Engström and Margot Wallard established Atelier Smedsby, a one-year workshop with three week-end sessions allowing participants to exchange with the two artists about their photographic work. 

JH Engstrom has had many solo shows including one at The Finnish Museum of Photography (Helsinki, Finland, 2018), at the Värmlands Museum (Sweden, 2017 and 2009); Hôtel Fontfreyde, Clermont-Ferrand (France, 2016); FOAM Amsterdam (Netherland, 2014); National Media Museum, Bradford (United Kingdom, 2010) or at the Hasselblad Center, Gothenburg (Sweden, 2005). His photographs have joined the collections of the Fotomuseum Winterthur (Winterthur, Switzerland); the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (USA); the Moderna Museet in Stockholm (Sweden) or again the Musée Nicéphore Nièpce (Chalon-sur-Saône, France). He has authored many publications, including Shelter (1997); Trying to Dance (Journal, 2003); Haunts (Steidl, 2005); CDG/JHE (Steidl, 2008); Foreign Affair (Super Labo, 2011); La Résidence (Journal, 2009); From Back Home (Max Ström, 2009); Sketch of Paris (Aperture, 2013); Långt Från Stockholm (Aron Mörel, 2013), Ende und Anfang, Early Trips(André Frère Éditions, 2013); Tout va bien (Aperture, 2015); Revoir (Akio Nagasawa Publishing / Journal, 2017); Crash(Akio Nagasawa Publishing, 2018); and four films and video installations: Här/Ici/Here (shortfilm, 5 mn., JH Engström, 2017); The Words (simultaneous screenings, 6h., 2017); Bertil and Maggan : a documentary (28 mn, Jenny Örnborn, Story, 2006); A film about/with Anders Petersen (52 mn, JH Engström, 2006); He is the recipient of international prizes and grants including the Leica Oskar Barnack Prize (Tout Va Bien, 2015); the Golden Letter (La Résidence, 2012); the Rencontre d’Arles photobook prize (From Back Home, with Anders Petersen, 2009); he was shortlisted for the Deutsche Börse Photographic Prize (Trying to Dance, 2005) and received a grant from the Andrea Frank Foundation (1998). He is the winner of the Photographic Book of the year in Sweden (with Shelter, 1998).

Margot Wallard

Born in Paris in 1978, Margot Wallard began photography at the age of sixteen. At the start of her career, she joined the Atelier Réflexe, where she approached photographic research as an artistic expression. There she collaborated with many figures from the contemporary art world.  From then on, each of her projects has corresponded to a particular period and event in her life. her series such as Foreign Affair (2011), My brother Guillaume & Sonia (2012) and Natten (2017) are deeply inspired by her family history. 

Her creative process is a kind of back-and-forth between her inner world and the outside world.   Wallard’s thinking takes place at the boundary between these two worlds, at the subjective aspect of existence. Each time, her work questions notions of identity and transmission. Intimately linked, her projects interact with one another and form an attempt to reconstruct a personal or family story , transformed, truncated or fantasised, but always destined to be shared, questioned and re-appropriated by the viewer. Always experimenting with new techniques, she generally works over long periods of time, appropriating images or objects that once belonged to others, without establishing a hierarchy between what inspires her and what she produces. Her images follow my emotional progression and resonate far beyond her personal experience, questioning our inability to fully embrace the mystery of our fragile condition.  

Margot Wallard has collaborated on two major European projects supported by the European Commission EX-IN (2004) and EU WOMAN (2007). Her work has been exhibited in France and abroad in galleries (Maeght, Fotohof…), festivals (Paris Photo, Unseen …) and institutions (Muséum Quarter, MEP…). She has published a number of books, including Foreign Affair, 7 days, Athens, November 2011, Karaoke Sunne with JH Engström published by Superlabo (2012), My brother Guillaume & Sonia, published by Journal (2013) and the highly acclaimed Natten published by Max Ström (2017). Margot Wallard is represented by Galerie VU (Paris) and Galerie Dorothée Nilsson (Berlin). She lives and works in Montreuil, France.

Ivan Perek
Workshop Assistant

Born in 1991 in France, Ivan has been influenced by various forms of images throughout his life. First attracted by cinema studies, he graduated from a master degree in this field. Being passionate about photography as well, he first became a participant of the Atelier Smedsby in 2020, participating in the workshop for two years, where he developed a personal relationship to photography.  He went on to become the assistant of the workshop in 2023.

Helena Ernst
Web and Social Media Coordinator

Born in 1999 in Colorado, USA, Helena came to Paris to complete her MFA in photography and image making. After graduating in 2023, she has been assisting JH Engström and working on a film and photography project about her childhood memories and the changing social landscape in the United States.