Axel Valentin Malmström, born January 13, 1872 in Linköping, died July 7, 1945 in Stockholm, was a Swedish photographer and the country’s most well-known press photographer. Both his sons, Victor Malmström and Åke came to be press photographers.
Malmström moved to Stockholm in 1894. He then worked with typography, and engaged in photography only as a hobby. After his wife died in a sailboat accident and daughter went away due to illness, he changed his career and became a photographer in 1901. The sailboat accident in Ulvsundasjön in Stockholm happened to be photographed and the image was published in the weekly newspaper Hvar 8 Dag (Every 8 days). It was the beginning of a long collaboration with the newspaper.
Malmström was autodidact and his images from daily life scenes from Stockholm have spontaneity and simplicity and today they constitute an important time document, especially from Stockholm during and after the First World War. In these pictures showing food queues, demonstrations and riots he managed to capture the social distress in the city. In 1912 he documented the Olympic Games in Stockholm as one of the three official photographers. The majority of his production, however, is owned by daily life in Sweden with motives like royalty, celebrities, famous celebrities, exhibitions and other events such as fire accidents, traffic accidents and other less dramatic street scenes.
In 1902 he established his own studio that he held until 1930. A march evening in 1905 he took a reportage photograph on a tram that bolted and overturned on the slopes at Slussen. Photo will be the first in Sweden, which was taken with flash outdoors. Malmström became the first photographer of the Social Democrat newspaper in the 1910s. It was probably Fredrik Ström, then chief editor of the “Social Democrat”, who suggested Malmström idea to his international premier “scoop”, the photograph of Lenin outside Stockholm Central Station on April 13, 1917 together with his wife Nadezjda Krupskaja and his Swedish sympathizers Ture Nerman, Carl Lindhagen and Kata Dalström. The company checked in the now drowned Hotel Regina at Drottninggatan 42-44.
In January 1925 he was in place at the Vasagatan / Kungsgatan crossing, when Stockholm and Sweden’s first traffic signal was put into operation. Also another known photograph is showing Axel Malmström on ladder while his son Victor shades the camera lens with his hat. The image was taken at the first-of-may demonstrations at Gärdet (Stockholm) in 1915. Victor Malmström was his father’s permanent assistant in the 1910’s and 1920’s and shared his ideal. It is therefore difficult to distinguish his efforts from the father’s.