Field notes from your editor

September 27, 2020

At this point, the website contains 116 pages, most of them stacked in a continuous feed so it’s not instantly noticable, but it still is a somewhat embarrasing 116 pages, or topics. It’s a rough estimation, but I’d say that every topic contains an average of seven pictures (zero to five for a blogpost, 15 for a travelogue, 5 per assignment). Which makes for more than 800 photographs. Needless to say that this is not a portfolio. It’s documenting work. Including some sort of portfolio, although I’d rather not use the word. It’s a living thing, fed, raised and cared for like a pet.

In my own defense: I like making websites. I enjoy tinkering with lay outs and navigation, aligning content with design, selecting and pairing images. I also like seeing pictures in their context and making them accessible, not necessarily to others. Pictures that otherwise waste away on the hard drive. I like making books too. Different medium, similar reasons. It helps me to get a grip on the outcome of photographing for almost a decade now and learn from it. Building and maintaining a website is a blunt confrontation with where you stand as a photographer, beyond the single image. 

The better part of the website shows pictures in their original context. The documenting part. It’s only on the sample pages that I detach them from where they come from. Cross selections, based on or moulded into formal, not unproblematic frameworks, like ‘landscape’, or ‘interior’. And then there is a sort of meta layer in the form of a blog. Also the home of small, incidental series that do not belong anywhere else.
It’s partly an occupational hazard, this inclination to offer multiple entries to the same content to improve accessibility, and to contextualize content in different ways to provide more than just one narrative. Another truth behind these layers is, of course, a lack of series and concepts. Organizing pictures based on their geographical provenance is the most obvious thing to do – and quite satisfying I must admit – but not necessarily the most interesting. I always find myself looking for cross connections, for other ways to organize them. Not sure if there are any that are fruitful. I do wonder how likely it is that several meaningful bodies of work could ever emerge from a bunch of singles that are taken without a clear concept beforehand. Not very, I’m afraid. Unless your name is Todd Hido.

Perhaps I should forget about series and admit and embrace the autonomy of these pictures and present a seemingly random selection on the homepage. I’ve been thinking about it on and off, and looking at Marton Perlaki’s website the other day, a photographer that I first came across at Unseen photo fair, sort of revived that idea.

On the other hand, looking at ‘landscape’: I intended to regularly update the sample sections. Turns out I almost never do. I sometimes replace an image or one of the pairs, but basically, it’s been the same selection since I first put it online. I feel that more recent pictures do not fit in, perhaps because they don’t, or perhaps the current selection has grown on me. I wonder what that means. It might mean that this is the beginning, or the core, of a series.

Picture taken in Telemark, Norway. Just one from recently that I happen to like.