Alma Haag was one of the earliest Swedish press photographers. She documented some of the biggest Swedish news events of the 1900s, such as Theodore Roosevelt’s visit to Sweden in 1910 and August Strindberg’s funeral in 1912.
Alma Haag was born in Sparlösa in Västergötland in 1882. She grew up there in straightened circumstances along with her three brothers and her farmer parents, Per and Sofia Svensson. She began dreaming of becoming a teacher in Sparlösa from an early age, but was eventually drawn to Stockholm by her brother Adolf. Alma Haag began to work at Runstedt’s photographic studio at Wallingatan 13 when she was 19 years old. There she learned everything from preparing liquids, to assisting the photographer and airbrushing both negatives and printed copies.
In 1902 Alma Haag began to work at Gegerfeldt’s grafiska and their so-called ‘klichéanstalt’ (photographic reproduction unit), where photographs were turned into printable images at the expense of the likes of Dagens Nyheter. A few years later, in 1907, Gegerfeldt’s grafiska became integrated into Dagens Nyheter’s permanent enterprise and was then moved in-house. The new photographic reproduction site also served as the newspaper’s photographic editing site. That same year Alma Haag became employed as a reproduction photographer, airbrusher, and assistant to her boss, Gustaf Wickman. The enterprise was initially only temporary. The laboratory consisted of a kitchen and two cupboards, whilst the room within the ‘kliché’ department served as the reproduction unit. At first there were four employees at the studio: Gustaf Wickman, Alma Haag, an etcher and an etcher’s apprentice. Sometimes Alma Haag had to step in as an etcher, which was a demanding and hazardous job which involved the use of corrosive acids and dangerous chemicals including cyanide, mercury, and aether.
When Gustaf Wickman did not personally have the time he would send Alma Haag out into Stockholm to take photographs. In 1910 she documented the visit of the former American president Theodore Roosevelt to Stockholm. On 1 May she photographed Hjalmar Branting at Gärdet. When King Edward VII of Great Britain visited Stockholm she stood at an attic window in Tegelbacken and was able to capture a very good image of the king and his retinue.
Stockholm hosted the Olympic summer games in 1912. The ‘kliché’ unit and Alma Haag were hectically busy, particularly with the extra section which Dagens Nyheter published during the games. That same year, on 19 May, Alma Haag photographed August Strindberg’s funeral on behalf of Dagens Nyheter.
Alma Haag also worked with the legendary journalist Beyron Carlsson and took the photographs for his series entitled ‘Hela Stockholm’. As more and more photographers were hired at Dagens Nyheter Alma Haag was less frequently sent out on photographic trips. She was, instead, promoted and became deputy head of the ‘kliché’ department. She was also a kind of pioneer in that position.
Alma Haag worked at Dagens Nyheter for 40 years. She never married or had any children. During her spare time she liked to travel and – over the years – she visited Germany, Austria and the former Yugoslavia. She was also interested in languages and studied French, Italian, and Syrian.
Alma Haag died of a lung oedema in 1979 and is buried in Sparlösa.