words photos words
Ansel Adams once wrote “When words become unclear I shall focus with photographs” – sound advice for any photography bloggers out there. He continued: “When images become inadequate, I shall be content with silence.”
What is this claptrap Mr Adams? Silence? Pah! In today’s cyber world, visual silence is a retirement. In an online community where people can post a selfie of them brushing their daughter’s hair and begin a viral riot, it is clear that the dedication to posting is the art in itself.
We cannot stop blogging in mundane periods, anymore than a diarist would leave a day blank when on holiday. As a professional photographer I started this blog to communicate the ups and downs of going pro, and it is therefore my god-given right to convey to you all of the bogeys and nuggets in equal measure. Keep digging and you will be rewarded, a flow of conciseness. At the very least we should share our inspiration:
I have always maintained that hobbyist photographers take the most beautiful images. Unconstrained by the need to make money out of their art, they post beautiful images, which deserve a lot more reward. And having a connection to the photographer brings out a whole other dimension.
My local favourite is Helena Nordmark. She posts images which make me want to get up at the crack of dawn and traipse off into the wilderness, to immerse myself in the landscape.
Unfortunately my obligations make such trips few and far between – 10 business portraits on a Monday morning are not so evocative! My professional work may not produce such beautiful images on such a regular basis as Helena passion, but it does take me to all sorts of interesting locations and introduces me to wonderful people.
On Monday I was at bingo hall taking some test shots for a company which is rebranding. Did you know that bingo halls in Norway still have smoking rooms! Apparently they have special dispensation from the 2004 smoking ban, but this is coming to an end in 2014, hence the rebranding. It was like walking into a different world. My images (above) are not as rough as the real story I would rather tell, but it is an interesting juxtaposition of my experiences and what I am paid to convey.
Later that day I was at TV2, for whom I have done some filming work over the past couple of years. They have an office overlooking the river and I, like everyone else in Trondheim that day, was left open mouthed at the state of the waterway. The water was lower than it had ever been in my experience and had frozen in creaking patches because of the softer currents of shallows. Being at TV2 gave me the insight into the cause: sadly a woman had gone missing over the weekend and it was feared she had been blown into the freezing waters. So the council actually restricted the waterflow at a dam further up the river to make it easier for divers to look for her body – a sad story but an incredible use of technology. I wonder how many of the other photographers out that day realised the story behind the beautiful ice patterns?
On Tuesday I met another Englishman in town, David Nikel. Like most other Brits in Norway, I have heard about David before through his great blog, Life in Norway, and his English-language news service for foreigners, Expat Weekly. Getting to meet him in person was very inspirational – the business he set up is thriving and we discussed an exciting new project. Reinvigorated, I rocked onto my next photo job… at the chocolate factory in Trondheim no less!
This is a classic job for me: an ad agency send me out to take professional portraits of someone they are writing about. They’ll end up using one or two images at most, but whilst I am on location I get to soak up loads of the history and marvel of the operation of weird and wonderful workplaces. Nidar chocolate factory has been there for over 100 years and takes enormous pride in its product. The only sad part was that the people who work there are immune to the beautiful smell of chocolate which you get when you walk in, imagine that!
Wednesday and I am back in the studio. You would not believe how much paperwork and admin bollox there is in running your own business. Sending invoices, chasing payment, registering receipts for 10 kroner, updating online content, writing budgets and making enough trips to the coffee machine to put most baristas to shame. I find these are good times to analyse your work though – this year I am concentrating on delivering only quality images. It can be difficult when you work with the news and other customers who demand an instantaneous product, regardless of conditions, but when you send examples like the example above, which I took in 2 minutes(!), and you are really happy with them, it is a good feeling.
Thursday and I was back on the portraiture bandwagon – this time with my colleague Bjørn Sjæran at Rosenborg football club. I have worked at the stadium as a cameraman for many years now, and it is easy to forget how exciting a place it can be. This was another whistle-stop photoshoot for me and I bustle down the players tunnel without giving a second thought to the history. Some of my favourite players, like Zidane and Henry, have walked down this tunnel. Yet my only consideration is the time and the light. Always the light!
Friday and I have to change my focus again, this time concentrating on work which is not even booked yet, never mind on the horizon. I produce some brochures and an album to advertise for wedding photography in the summer. A little shout out to Apple here, who produce an amazing photo album though the iPhoto app.
I often joke that when I came to Norway my mates in England ribbed me about moving to a cold dark climate, but I defended the move pointing out I was immigrating to a country with the best social services in Europe, the easiest working hours and the most supportive employee benefits imaginable. But on arrival I chose the one profession where none of that really applies: I am a self-employed camera man! Never mind half day Fridays or summer working hours, I am back in the studio on a Saturday more often than not. Sundays? Yea, them too.
This weekend I was helping out another photographer on a shoot with 15 pumped-up personal trainers in the studio, whilst simultaneously ducking out and running across the road to take pictures of Norway’s oil minister playing in a volleyball tournament. After a long week, and having spent Saturday night up all hours with a crying infant, whilst my wife was out celebrating her 30th, I started to think I had dreamt it all up. My life seems a bit surreal, was that really the Oil Minister? But the newspaper landed on the doormat this morning with the pictures, and confirmation of the photo jobs I pitched for arrived in my inbox, and the other photographer texted me thanks for the help on Saturday. That can only mean one thing: time to start all over again.