For three days, the eight NJP photographers gathered at Holmsbu to edit projects, discuss ideas and discuss photography with the mentors Marie Sjøvold and Pieter Ten Hoopen.
Every second year, the participants in the Norwegian Journal of Photography meet to work with the projects for the upcoming edition of the NJP book. This time, it was the Swedish/Dutch photographer Pieter Ten Hoopen and Norwegian Marie Sjøvold who came to Holmsbu to provide guidance to the photographers.
From 19 to 22 April, the days revolved around editing, discussions about photography, trends, ideas and ethics. Along with editors Laara Matsen, Rune Eraker and Espen Rasmussen, the works were structured, edited and cut back. On Saturday, Kari Hesthamar, known from NRK Radio Documentary, visited the workshop to talk about how she works with long-term projects.
“We can easily get into a rut in the way in which we express ourselves as photographers. That’s why I seek out new ways to kickstart myself, to give me a new way of seeing things so that I think new thoughts”, said Pieter Ten Hoopen on the first day of the workshop. This seasoned documentary photographer has published a number of books.
“The most important thing to me is to tell the story. Now I’m working extensively for organisations, where I stage exhibitions and multi-media projects. In many ways, organisations have replaced newspapers and magazines for me, and I have not worked for conventional media since 2012”, he added.
Pieter Ten Hoopen also told about one of his major projects, Hungry Horse.
“I find new projects that turn into photographic challenges for me. I had worked in the USA with Hungry Horse for several years, but I eventually felt that things had come to a halt. I photographed things in the same way as always, never daring to challenge myself. Then I decided to go to Japan and make a book. I gave myself seven days to complete the Tokyo project, where I shadowed a new person each day.
When he was done, Pieter Ten Hoopen went to China, where he had the book printed in a limited edition.
“By cutting out everything else, and carrying out the project from Japan so quickly, I was completely free. I worked without constraints and dared to develop my photography. I found new ways to think about things, which helped me when I was going to finish Hungry Horse”, he explained.
Marie Sjøvold used to work as a photographer for the newspaper VG, among others, and she spent several years in Berlin before moving home to Norway.
“I eventually found a way to work that can be described as subjective documentation”, stated Sjøvold during the NJP workshop at Holmsbu. She said that after completing a project, she felt a powerful need to take pictures and make a project in a whole new way.
“It seems like several things often coincide in my life, leading me to embark on a project. There may be something that makes an impression on me, or something takes place in my life that means a great deal, and then something happens in the community. When such things coincide, they may mark the start of a new project.
In the bedrooms
Marie Sjøvold, herself part of the first round of NJP, told the photographers about some of her projects and about the run-up to a completed exhibition and book. ‘While We Were Sleeping’ took the photographer into people’s bedrooms. She spent whole nights with people to take their pictures while they slept.
“It was a little like taking photos of my own high. I was so tired when I stayed awake all night in dark bedrooms. When the subjects of my photos fell asleep, something changed in the entire atmosphere of the room. Thoughts change, what one sees is magnified in the darkness. I tried to capture these feelings on film; I played on the conditions and the mentality that evolved in the room”, Marie commented. She also pointed out how the book was about people asleep, while the exhibition was quite different: It was more about a feeling.
“When I work with a room for the exhibition, I want the visitors to enter into something, and almost to become a part of it. I take a holistic approach and strive to ensure that the photos complement each other”, explained Marie Sjøvold.
The eight NJP photographers gave brief presentations of their projects to the mentors, telling where they are in the process, about challenges they have met, styles, concepts and ideas. They were subsequently divided into two groups, each with a mentor. They spent hours on editing and discussions before the groups switched mentors the next day.
Paul Sigve Amundsen: Continent in crisis
Pauls Sigve Amundsen’s project ‘Europe’ began in 2015, when the Continent was in a crisis in many ways, both financially and in relation to the challenges with refugees. Read more about his NJP project here.
“I was also experiencing some kind of personal crisis, since the media industry was in trouble. For that reason, I thought that I would make one final major project before finding something other than photography to make a living from”, remarked Amundsen with a mixture of humour and earnestness.
He bought a large-format camera and began the work of travelling around Europe all alone.
“I often tell myself: ‘This was a silly idea… I use a camera from 1969, a Linhoff, but I only use one lens and the same black and white film. I would like to have a unified language for this project, where I take portraits and landscapes”, he explained.
Paul Sigve Amundsen has produced voluminous material after visiting 31 countries. By the autumn, he will have travelled to the last five countries. At Holmsbu, a great deal of time was spent on editing his project to make it shorter.
Fred Ivar Klemetsen: Going back
Photographer Fred Ivar Klemetsen chose to change projects due to access problems. He showed a project he had worked with extensively 20 years ago. Now, he is going to return to the people he met back then.
“I’m going to work with self-portraits and meet those whose pictures I took in Brazil, among other places. Twenty years ago, I took close, intimate pictures. Now I want to meet the people again to see how our relationship is today and how their lives have turned out”, reported Klemetsen.
Line Ørnes Søndergaard: More chapters
“I’ve been in three areas of Europe so far, and I plan to make the next part of the story from a country in southern Europe. These latter chapters are still in the planning stage”, reports Line Ørnes Søndergaard. Today, the Continent is in flux, and Line travels to observe contemporary Europe and Europeans, a Europe often characterised by distance and greater differences. Read more about her project here.
She would like to address a variety of tendencies like poverty, immigration and the feeling of being an outsider.
“I would like each chapter to be a story in itself, at the same time as they constitute a bigger story, when seen together.”
Katinka Goldberg: Following the escape route
Katinka Goldberg’s project revolves around her Jewish background and the impact of memories that include an escape have on later generations. This summer, she plans to follow the same escape route as her maternal grandmother did when she fled from Trondheim to Sweden during WW II.
“I have been to Trondheim. There, I met a woman who knew a lot about my family that was news to me. For example, I got information about many relatives that neither I nor my mother knew anything about.”
Goldberg also found a diary that her grandmother wrote after fleeing to Sweden.
“This big project is made up of many small parts. I’m using portraits, collages, photo albums and pictures from archives”, she explained.
Monica Strømdahl: Visited six US states
“I am documenting a way of life. There are hundreds of thousands of people registered as homeless; they live for days, weeks or months in flop houses, a type of motel that offers cheap, long-term accommodations”, commented Monica Strømdahl, as she showed the copious material she has collected for her project thus far. Read more about her NJP project here.
The photographer has spent several months visiting these run-down motels in the US. There, she documented lives before they disappear. The hotels form her framework, but it is the people and their everyday lives that are her focus.
“I’ve spent time in six different states. I took the most recent photos just two weeks ago”, she pointed out.
Elin Høyland: The royal treatment
“The whole thing started with one particular photo. I had an exhibition at a lighthouse, and there I noticed a picture of King Olav hanging on the lighthouse wall. I then continued to notice these royal portraits hanging in a wide variety of locations”, recounted Høyland. Read her project description here.
“Now, I take pictures of walls that are decorated with pictures of members of the royal family, and commemorative plates bearing images of the Norwegian royal family. I want to document what these portraits actually look like, but I also want to show how and why people hang these pictures in their homes”, explained the photographer.
She has already documented a number of homes.
“Much of our history has been modernised and disappeared, but people still continue to hang these portraits of royals on their walls. I want to find out where people hang the pictures and how they are used”, added Høyland.
Damian Heinisch: Then and now
“I read my grandfather’s diary from the time he, as a German, was deported to the Soviet Union (Ukraine) in 1945. Reading it changed my life and I simply had to explore this story. This project has taken me to four countries, all of which have had a bearing on me and on my family: Ukraine, Poland, Germany and Norway”, said Heinisch, describing his comprehensive project.
It is divided into four parts. Damian has taken photos of his life in Norway. He has visited Poland, where he grew up. He has documented his father’s life in Germany, and he has spent a great deal of time in Ukraine.
“I’ve employed a specific technique in each of the four chapters. The four parts are all inter-related”, stated the photographer.
Therese Alice Sanne: Mental health
“One in five young people struggles with mental health issues. This problem is largely invisible, so how am I, as a photographer, going to manage to show this through images?”, asked Therese Alice Sanne. She has spent time at Gaustad Hospital, where she has shadowed a young girl in Trondheim who suffers from depression. During the workshop, quite a bit of time went to discussing her approach and imagery.
“I have spent a great deal time with her, and the process has been demanding. In addition, I have met and photographed other young people with mental illnesses”, said Sanne, who will spend the coming months continuing to work with individuals facing mental challenges.
Until the early autumn of 2018, the photographers will keep working on their projects. After that, they will gather in Oslo along with the three editors and publisher Gösta Flemming to do the final editing for the fourth NJP book.