Photographic Essays


The idea for the project My Travel Experiences stroke me during my trip to India in 2011, when I was once again stressed by crowds of people, by jam-packed streets, buses and trains and by the lack of distance between people in dealing with each other. I was looking for a photographic way to turn that experience into pictures. Simply depicting reality did not work, the images did not contain the hustle and bustle, and they did not reflect my inner life. In the end, it became a heterogeneous series of pictures that use a variety of stylistic elements, yet reflect my experience. On the one hand I tried to write my photo essay by extreme close-ups, showing only sections of reality, on the other hand by erratic change between impressions and, moreover, through objective documentation of population density.

More important was that I returned from India with a concept for a project. And that solved a general photographic problem of my travels. I usually visit places to photograph specifically for a particular topic. I knew, for example, that the nature of the site at the White Sands National Monument would enable me to create images for the Contemplationes project. Moreover, even when traveling from another reason, I am more or less intentionally looking for images for long-term projects like Contemplationes, Constructiones, Geopolis or Formationes. And finally, every journey is an experience in itself, and it originates more or less sophisticated images as impressions of that journey. Often, ideas for new projects result from the fact that I take pictures aimlessly and am inspired through the results to new projects.

But what to do with images that come out while traveling, but cannot be assigned to a project and won’t be the starting point of a new project (apart from the fact that you cannot start new projects all the time because you won't be able to manage them). Sometimes I can make use of single images or small series on certain occasions, e. g. for didactic purposes. But be careful not to end up with Uncle Theo’s notorious pell-mell best-of-holiday slideshow. That's why it is a good idea to limit yourself thus a project, making use of being on the road, of travelling and the unfamiliar surroundings to channel inspiration. It is important that it is an individual, personal experience. I do not want to show the fact that stave churches are typical of Norway, even if this were a restriction to one topic. The photographic result must be related to me and my experience.

A second reason why I launched this separate internet gallery is that my commitment to a high image quality on my main personal website, my homepage, strongly limits the options of image presentation. There I have a very rigid standard of creative quality, I am very slow and conservative in deciding of what I accept for my body of artistic work and show on the website. And that’s a good thing, because often, after initial enthusiasm, after some time of viewing and thinking, I assessed an idea or a concept differently and I was glad that I did not put the pictures created in such a moment directly on my homepage. Otherwise it would be flooded with started and discontinued projects. Off the record, the Reflectiones photo series is a bit of such a project. Although I am still convinced of the concept, for technical and creative reasons I find it very difficult to continue working on this series. Therefore: For me, there had to be a kind of an experimental ground, that enabled me to show even less mature and less ambitious pictures and thus also to document the permanent photographic production. Quite apart from the fact that today anyway every picture is posted immediately anytime, anywhere. My Travel Experiences is in some ways in-between the canonized museum image or my main homepage on the one hand and a quickly posted Instagram or Facebook picture on the other, in-between seriousness and spontaneity. Yes, I wanted to be more spontaneous.

And finally, a picture should stand for itself and it should say more than a thousand words. Some images, however, need an explanation or must be supplemented by words. After the first series of My Travel Experiences, I realized that some people could not understand my experience without any verbal comments, but, after a few words, saw exactly this experience in the pictures. That’s why the image-text essays of My Travel Experiences are an appropriate format for me, and this format is presented in a contemporary manner in the internet. More and more the concept developed in such a way that the series are presented as a tableau in rows of four in the web gallery.

It’s also interesting how the essays are made. Sometimes, before the journey, I have certain expectations about what could be my central experience at the place I'm visiting, and from the very beginning I’m trying to take pictures on this subject. In some cases, I stick to this subject, such as in Cuba in 2014 or at Spring Break in 2016, though in the latter case, the accent shifted when I became painfully aware of my age in this environment and this aspect flew very much at least into the text. Sometimes even the topic itself changes. In 2013 in Iceland, for example, I wanted to show our temporary living in a motorhome and on campsites and I had already taken many pictures for this. The actual reason to travel to Iceland was taking pictures for the Constructiones project. However, I realized that the crowd of people at these Constructiones places made it almost impossible to photograph with the view camera for this project. And promptly, I had found the topic that impressed me: the streams of visitors at the scenic sights (hence the title of the essay is »My Island Experience II [Two!]«). This has even led to a new project, which I continue at new places: Places of Interest deals exactly with the topic, that, where we look for peace, loneliness, experience of nature, we don't find it because many others are looking for it at exactly the same places. The millions of lone steppe wolves in a sense.

It was different with »My Indianapolis Experience« (2016), where I unexpectedly found that the friendliness and helpfulness of my colleagues was the most impressive thing about my stay there. That’s why I also made portraits of all my colleagues and put these portraits together in a series (»My Indianapolis Experience I«). In the end, however, the stylistic proximity of this series of portraits to the Visiones project and the fact that I found another key experience photographically more appealing prevented me from presenting the portraits on this website.

And finally, there may be a fabulous journey, such as to Norway in 2012, but there is no pivotal personal experience that could be translated into an individual photo-essay. Just taking the pictures of the magnificent scenery that extremely impressed me would not make it into this photo project. However, some of these pictures have found their way into the series Contemplationes and Constructiones.