Top 3 best countries & Influences
The pictures featured here are side images I made during the series Nordic Noir and its photography book. I will describe some in this post and the future post coming.
Part 1 / 2012
It was a fine sunny day of early August 2012, when me and my friend Pierre started our journey from a small Belgian town named Braine l'alleud up to a small Norvegian Island called Halsnøy. I was excited to leave the flat Belgium with it's green fields and grey sky. Before that 1800km road trip through the Netherlands, Germany, Denmark, and finally Norway I would never have seen any proper waterfall, neither Fjords or climbed mountains. Here was my road map, my Renault Clio was fully loaded and ready to go up there.
Photographically speaking I was totally going blind up there. My only intention was to produce a photographic essay that wasn’t a reportage. I would still photograph reality (and never alter my photograph) but try to do something else. I was just in the end the middle of my reportage inside Belgian Prisons, back from two reportage in Libya a country destroyed and left in prey to anarchy and human insanity. I had been accepted to the Halsnøy Closter to do something different, for a month for an artist residency.
On the road I would often stop to wander around and explore areas that would attract my eyes. Before leaving DK I spotted a lake on my GPS and decided to head there to see & sniff around. Lucky me, a young man was going in the lake to try to catch a fish with his bare hands. His mother on the shore waiting with his dog.
We reached Norway on a Friday evening, by Kristiansand. The city center was on fire. People and teenager all drunk yelling and running around, dancing around the pubs. Having fun under the pub’s light. I thought about these drawings and movies representing pirates harbours where the pirates would get drunk in the bars and have fun all night long as long as they were in land. It was nice to see, but I couldn’t stop to photograph it - I was driving in this funny chaos around 2am after a full day of driving. I was more interested to find a place to sleep- which I did - a camping - after driving through the my first mountains sinuous roads…
We took a detour “in-land” to see the country first before joining the artist residency. I had to discover the land before trying to create something new. I met calm people, doing their thing, not really talkative and extremely straight forward. Outside of the main cities, the towns were well taken care of without any sign of big touristic activity. Something I loved, people working in interaction with nature, respecting it and respecting each others. It was my very first encounter with strong weather, enormous variety of fauna and flora; I couldn’t stop being surprised by every mountains or waterfall.
Arrived on the island of Halsnøy Pierre started to record songs with his guitars, piano, computers and whatever he could find. On my hand, I couldn’t find any things to photograph - I was scared of a peaceful place with the sound of the sea rubbing on the pier of the abbey. I spent a month without my phone, or looking at internet. Nothing. I would try to run on a beach to calm down my need of adrenaline, scream, photographs rocks or throw ‘em in the sea, nothing would come off neither let me evacuate. I would try to listen electronic music, it wouldn’t fit my thoughts, rock ? again fuck’in nothing. I would turn and turn around like a lion in cage shooting crappy pictures.
I was mind-fucked on the cutest place on earth and I wouldn’t realize it.
Seb - How do you feel ? Don’t you think you have seen a bit enough for your age ?
Yeah well - maybe. I had a lot of thoughts and shitty photographs in the Closter. After two weeks I started to calm down. Oyvind lend me his Rolleiflex and I could develop films in the lab that was in the basement of the Closter.
I had a visual grab on a feeling on which I could finally hang on.
I was now making pictures. My own first ones.
Describing an inner feeling, that I could only understand and visualise with photographs.
I think my biggest influences are first to find in music. I grew up with my musicians friends. I know a bit of it. Therefore I use it to bring my mind somewhere else while I look at my surroundings. It can get even more intense if I listen music and photograph at the same time.
Working table on the left and an other view from the pier of the closter on the right.
After a month up there, a lot of photographs and many emotions it was time for us to leave that paradise and drive back to Belgium. I came back to Belgium and was preparing to go back to Germany to document the underground life of Berlin (The Last Shelter), but I got severely sick. An operation & 3 weeks of delay… Sometimes there is no surprise in life.
Norway part 2
This time, for my second trip I wanted to discover the North of the country. I flew to Trondheim, spend a bit of time in the city, and then took the train for 12 hours up to Bodø. From there, I took a boat to the Loføten area.
For 12 hrs in a train I would just chill and photograph the people in the wagon. First pictures. My point here again was to breathe, feel & avoid humans. The National Norway Railroad company sells that trip like extremely beautiful, well… it was, sometimes when you have a chance to see something trough the thick forest.
As a photographer, up north I rented a car and I would aim at more landscape, working my eyes around what I would love to look at. A house facing a gigantic chain of mountains; That nature could crush you in a second, and instead it is just offering you peace.
Paying attention to the light, keeping the eyes wild open and feel ready to get hit by any other beautiful landscape that country as to offer. I had a high feeling running on beach when I saw some silhouettes going to surf in the middle of November on a Fjord. The picture is in the book. I found the scene insanely beautiful. A man was rowing on his plank to the infinite horizon surrounded by sharp mountains and cliffs, and a November sky. His kids where trying to follow him running in the sea.
I got all wet running trough the beach to catch that photograph, as I was wearing some walking shoes and a long pant. The sand was soaked… My feet, shoes, and pants where soaked also I didn’t care I had my catch.
After my trip in the Lofoten area I went up in Tromsø and the town was extremely cold, dark and sleepy. Walking outside at night looking for something to photograph I encountered a silhouette of a cowboy coming out of a taxi. I decided to follow it, and see where it would lead me. I did well.
Teenagers attending the only party in town, half year prom’.
All beautifully dressed and beautifully drunk.
I waited a bit a photographed that couple. I loved them sort of pale vampires out in the night, and her freckles and make up under the eyes.
After a while, I decided to leave it there after all it was only me and a young drunkard.
I had a chance to be invited for a week to give a conference and present solo exhibition of Nordic Noir at the Lofoten FotoFestival, one of the best in Europe regarding its quality and intensity. The photography works and their author were surprising, honest, vibrants.
Oh lord. This time up there was pure joy. A cold weather, biting cold and sharp light. Warm in the sun. Nobody around. I couldn’t stop myself to be out and photograph. Again, again. and again.
This is all for this post! I hope you enjoyed it. It frequently answer to your question from my facebook page, or from the blog comments here under so feel free to write!
Under the bird images you’ll see a list of music and artist I recommend you to listen.
My next article will focus on the side images of my reportage about the morgues in Mexico city
(Top 2 then I think)
PS: You can follow my insta, but I prefer to write here.
I did listen to
Radiohead “In Rainbows” full album
Radiohead “ Kings of the Limbs” full Album
Thom Yorke “Anima” Traffic. (Playing while writing)
Alt-J “An awesome Wave” full Album
Jamiroquai “Deeper Underground”
The Velvet underground
Gesaffelstein '“Hate or Glory”