Discovering Sweden’s urban courier sub-culture

‘Shoot The Messenger’, a project by photographer Anthony Hill, is a documentation of Stockholm’s cycle messengers, a sub-culture found in most cities worldwide. We bring you his words and his shots. Enjoy.

The project began in winter 2018 and has continued throughout the following winters. The riders are humble characters, often philosophical, from varied backgrounds with many stories behind the eyes. Amongst them, you’ll find Swedish, European, and World champions. Messenger championships (races and alley cats) take place around the globe, and it’s common for the bikes to feature stickers and badges from these events.

The portraits have been mainly taken during the winter. Interestingly, messengers describe their time within the job by winters, like tours of duty. When the harsh weather locks down other forms of transport, the messengers keep going in the snow and ice, averaging 50-100km daily.

The project has taken time to build momentum and has been mainly spread via word of mouth. The messenger community is tight-knit and supportive, and of all the subjects I have photographed, I have found the riders to be the most fascinating and happiest individuals. The portraits have been taken during a ten-minute break from their working day. It’s all about them and their bikes, often unique and personalised, reflecting the sub-culture.

I’m a cycling fan myself, so it’s been a complete pleasure to create this project. I believe it’s also an important documentation, specific to Stockholm, of a select group of individuals, a chosen lifestyle, who know the city better than most.

Timewise, I feel it’s also relevant, as climate change highlights city congestion and the inevitable decline of fossil fuel vehicles. However, the bicycle continues to prove timeless and efficient.

The aim is to create an exhibition and book of the project next year, so currently in that planning process, but between now and then, we have one more winter.


Text & photo Anthony Hill
IG @anthonyhillphotographer