New camera. Nothing to it, however, a thought came to mind. First exposure could be something special. Out of the ordinary. Not just another push of the button.
A camera is a vessel for light. Through the glass, sensors or film we use, an unbelievable amount of lights pass. Some of it registers and is transfixed to whatever part of the human condition needs to be conveyed to the viewer. Stories of importance, tragedy and joy pass through.
I want to give my new travel companion a good start. A beautiful first frame.
Three months on the road has taken it's toll and I'm tired. My breath clouding the cone of light from my head. The polar winter is here and we are but a few weeks from this years last rays of sun. The path is well known, but this particular night unusually dark with no moon and dimly lit stars. A stretch of aurora hides its northern origin behind the mountain ahead, the green hue outline the destination. Exciting. Lofoten and aurora. The camera is in for a treat.
As the mountaintop approach the green light weaken. The last climb and the mountain does not shelter the northern wind anymore. It is cold and dark by the time my headlamp reveal the tibetan prayerflags.
I recently finished a book where I explore the elusive notion of home. The book was a game-changer and I ended up moving to this group of rocks scattered off main-land Lofoten.
The darkness has descended and the aurora retracted. I figure that the first image is going to be of just that. Home. Not elusive anymore, but the true refuge.
The first image fails spectacularly. As does the second. And third.
I don't know when it hits, but it took a bit of work today to get this image. Not an image for the books. Not remotely iconic. However, I will remember the chase for this special moment. This attempt at beginning a new relationship with something special. And even if the sensor did not record what I saw, these moments passed through the glass. They passed through my eyes. And they shall stay with me because this image is a reminder of the idea, the effort, and a beautiful night spent outdoors.
You Are Here Now could not have been made without the support of friends, family, colleagues and random strangers. Some have become friends and some estranged, but it's still invaluable help and it's only due to your support that I can invite to the launch of You Are Here Now. I wish I could invite you to my home for this event, it would have been the right thing to do. Countless people have opened their homes, lives and refrigerators for me, but this project was a life-changer and had me relocate to a small island, Skrova, off the Lofoten archipelago. A launch here would be overly exclusive and expensive to attend. That is why I with gratitude to the Freedom of Expression Foundation (Fritt Ord) invite to this event at their address:
Uranienborgveien 2 in Oslo on Friday, December 5th from 5pm.
There will be drinks and I will give a short presentation of the project. After that the book can be purchased before we let the night run it's course. I'll bring a pen along if you would you be interested in a signed copy.
Hope to see you there.
If you are unable to attend, the book can be ordered directly from the publisher Tartaruga Press.
You Are Here Now is finally with the publisher and they are ready to ship out next week. We'll be in Paris this week with the book and you can find us this Friday at the HERE Press stand at Polycopies where you can secure one of the very first copies, signed.
On the 20th I'll be in Stavanger, Norway presenting both You Are Here Now and Come, for all is now ready. It will be at Stavanger Foto from 6pm and after I will have a book signing and perhaps even a beer. Hope to see you there.
We are working on an Oslo launch of the book as well, so please write December 5th in your calendar if you are in Oslo or the surrounding areas, it would be fantastic to celebrate all these years of work coming to an end with you.
If you can not attend any of these events or is too impatient to wait, you can pre-order the book HERE
From this Saturday at 2pm you can find "Come, for all is now ready" at the ground floor of Perspektivet Museum in Tromsø. There will be music, speeches and fancy guests including the parish priest Anders Rosland (seen in picture) and the minister of culture Thorhild Widvey.
I will speak about my work at Polar Fokus Thursday from 7pm at Tromsø Kunstforening.
Hope to see you in Tromsø.
Eivind H. Natvig was the epitome of the young up and coming photojournalist’
When did it end?
I wake up on an old mattress in Dhaka, Bangladesh. The grey floor is covered with a thin layer of dust. Not the visible kind, but the sort you find in overpopulated cities with heavy traffic. The kind that coats everything. Last night I returned from two weeks of assignment in the Middle East, working 14–18 hour days. Body and mind are drained. I literally collapsed onto the mattress. Slowly waking up late considering the level of noise outside. With absolutely nothing to do this morning, I decide I might as well stay in bed for a while. After keeping up a daily routine of production for longer than I can remember, the decision feels legitimate. I’m in a room with whitewashed walls and nothing interesting to look at. Nowhere to rest the eyes. It’s a space devoid of visual impressions. The pounding sounds of Dhaka, five storeys below, seep through the windows. The room, which closely resembles a cell, is ten square metres of safe haven. Outside is a mega-city in the most densely populated country in the world with an unimaginable amount of traffic and unknown numbers of human beings going about their lives. I just need a bit of rest before confronting it. A slow day to recharge the batteries. Lack of rest.
“At best, these photographs will be forgotten after a day or two. Perhaps a week.”
Soon I realise that this isn’t about a lack of rest; it’s about an abundance of fear. A fear of going out to interact with strangers, stealing their image. The past months have involved a massive overload of intruding into lives. Now it all feels pointless and futile. At best, these photographs will be forgotten after a day or two. Perhaps a week. Hasn’t it all been told and re-told to infinity? Will the stories we can register on a mere superficial level even enlighten or educate the readership on any but a worthless level? The allure of photography is gone. The adventure of going out, engaging with the unknown and unpredictable has disappeared. The need to record situations and freeze moments, all the photographer’s clichés. They’ve become just that;clichés. What truly is the value of documenting contemporary life? The only significance of the work I’ve been doing for a long time is to fund this current lack of productivity. To fund what should be valuable weeks. Time bought to balance out the assignments. A few short weeks of freedom.
I stay in my room. Registering the noise from the world outside.
It’s early December, and a short month from now a staff job is waiting in Norway. Dhaka is my last refuge for free photographic expression, story-telling and adventure for a while, yet I have no energy to utilise it. I read, watch movies and drift in and out of sleep. I think about photography as a profession. The media and visual journalism world I know back home feels for the most part like a group of self-congratulatory egos. The burning desire for story-telling seems lost on my colleagues in the north. Boastful conversations over beer in dimly lit pubs appear more of a motivation than finding and telling stories. I’m deeply disillusioned. I wonder if anyone other than me remembers the screaming father and the dying child. I wonder if it ever truly reached anyone at all, my invasion of that most intimate moment. I was welcomed, but for what? To be their voice? A witness? We feed into the same pool of photography. We head out to create images considered good, solid photography. Again and again. If it leaves no dent, no lasting impression, it’s as if it were never seen. If an image isn’t seen, it doesn’t exist. What about all the images that are forgotten? The images that refused to be viewed.
“A black hole ends up being my saviour and path to light: pinhole-photography. The only goal: to produce one image today.”
Morning turns to night and before long a week has passed. Nothing has changed. I imagine being a prisoner before his impending release. A black hole ends up being my saviour and path to light: pinhole-photography. The only goal: to produce one image today. Little do I know that this is the beginning of a life-changing addiction. The sun advances across the horizon and it’s not until afternoon and large amounts of coffee that pure willpower unlocks the door, after one week on the mattress in the sanctity of my cell.
The streets are kind today. People are kind today. But then again, they always are here in Dhaka. Kind and inspiring. I find my image. I go back out again. Every day. A newfound joy is born out of this photography rooted in journalistic method, but whose visual expression is completely subjective. Purpose is reborn, and even if this isn’t important work, it matters to me.
Peace and solitude in one of the most hectic cities in the world. It feels like a dream out here, floating through the friendly streets. The joyous exploration of familiar places, rediscovered by the magic of photography. Providing a whole new perspective, making the experience more important. It’s only while editing the images at night that I discover a new planet. A planet existing just outside my home. Passion and energy returning day by day. I ask my future employer to postpone that first day of work in order to stay on the road a while longer. I ultimately and unwillingly go home without any idea that these playful days in Dhaka will be the first steps to exploring Norway.
A fortunate turn of events. Something about the baggage from Bangladesh has reignited the passion, but with a newfound liberty. I quickly realise that my new employer is willing and able to try new things. To explore the subjective visual language. Even more importantly, the writer I travel with sees the opportunity to experiment as well, and when we return home the art director elevates the content we’ve come up with.
However, there’s still the constant feeling of being imprisoned. Even if everything is in place for a great job, I’m overtaken by claustrophobia, and resign four weeks after my first day. Why should I register events photographically if I can dream images? When I can use the power of photography to re-invent known objects and situation? Offer new perspectives and help guide people towards new impressions of their surroundings?
What I’ve come across just weeks earlier across the planet has got into my veins. A drug much too powerful for a mere hit a month as a staffer. I need my daily boost. These are the months when You Are Here Now is born from a wide range of stolen explorations of Norway. Whether in the moments before, after or during assignments, the occasional frame is set aside, until one day it arrives at critical mass and evolves into something bigger and deeper than these single frames. It is now an addiction. A random combination of events have led me here. From the refuge in Dhaka to the polar winter in Finnmark in a few weeks. Assignments across the country temporarily cure my itch, but it’s not nearly enough and I need to dig deeper. I decide to make myself homeless and live on the road for a while. I uproot my life and head out. No strings, no ties; just a vast and endless Norway and the kindness of strangers. One of these strangers sparks a separate project Come, for now all is ready, a story about a parish priest off the rugged Helgeland coast, a project now in its third year.
The book is almost done. You Are Here Now. Book number two since the break-up with Oslo. My subjective journey through Norway, edited from images dating back to 2008. A book where I come to terms with the elusive notion of home and redefining it in the process. A project said to ‘linger somewhere in-between the genres of documentary and fine art’. What happened in Dhaka four years ago was also about breaking repetition: not to shoot the same images, not to reinforce the stereotypes I see from both Norway and the other countries in which I’ve lived and worked. A feeble attempt to offer new perspectives using the incredible power of photography.
You Are Here Now is just about to hit the press. Now there’s a new visual fatigue: the vacuum created by giving birth to large projects. The past three years have been exceptionally fertile, digging into long term projects, and now there’s both the release of the book and the exhibition of Come, for now all is ready at Perspektivet Museum.
For me, transitions have always been the result of a certain level of discomfort – as have most good stories – whether physical discomfort from a blazing tropical sun or the arctic winds sweeping across the ocean, or the mental challenges sparked by fear, hunger or pressure.
I wish I had that cell and mattress again, that space to think and merely exist. A place to spawn new visual joy and a new direction.
The images from Dhaka have turned into the book Here (Hit), a collaboration with poet Gro Dahle. You can find it in libraries across the country.
The images from Norway are about to be released in book form as You Are Here Now (Du Er Her No) by Tartaruga Press (UK). They have also been exhibited by Trondheim Kunstmuseum, Galleri Lille Kabelvåg and Shilpakala Art Academy.
The images from Come, for now all is ready will be exhibited from November at Perspektivet Museum.
This essay was written for and originally published by Debris Fanzine
Is it seven years of work or is it eight? Does it matter? Months on the road. Not months; years. Tens of thousands of euros. Design. Colors and paper. Is the edit right? Is the paper stock right? Stress.
I’m here in Denmark now. Far from everything. Not a sound. Only one coverage-dot on the phone; but not all the time. A few hectic color corrections are made. A lot of doubt. There is this one image. An image who have proved difficult printing with both ink and chemicals. It has to work in the printing-press. This is the culmination. They ask me to start the press. My heart flicker.
All those kilometers. Of fun and exploration. Meetings with strange people and animals. New friends and a new life. A life altering project. Does it all end here in the danish country-side? The manifestation of the work. The book. Then what is next?
It is but a few times in life you are presented with the moments who feels significant. The feeling of this changes everything. When about to push a life altering button there is time for a surprisingly large variety of thoughts. I half expect the machine to blow up or at least some sort of electrocution. There is time to think “is this really it?” An anti-climax.
There is nothing special about the little square I’m about to push. No resemblance to how Hollywood portrays any button of significance. This button of dreams is just a bit worn out. Worn out from fingers of dreamers, artists and businessmen, but primarily the guys who work here everyday. How mundane it is to print a book, yet I can not beat the feeling that we are doing something magical together today.
I push the button. I want to say that nothing happens, but it does. Just no explosion or fireworks.
It is only my book being made.
You Are Here Now.
Thank you Gutenberg for allowing this experience.
The book will be out mid-november. I do hope you will like it.
iYou Are Here Now can be pre-ordered through tartaruga press
Today I´m wrapping up and packing down forty images I have spent the past weeks printing. November 8th the exhibit "Homo Religiosus" will open at Perspektivet Museum in Tromsø.
The round floor of the museum will show "Come, for all is now ready." This collection of images explore coastal religion and coastal culture in small island societies off the rugged Helgeland coast. On and off for almost three years I have travelled the ocean with the parish priest, through an area of such immense beauty that words lack the strength and nuances to convey the breathtaking scenery.
You Are Here Now. (Du Er Her No)
The book is at the verge of being ready. It has become a compilation of images from seven years of travel. Fueled by the kindness of strangers and random moments of Norway.
Just waiting for the printers to give me a date. I´m pushing for mid-october and the book in hand early November. Let me know if you would like to pre-order it.
This was a book-collaboration with poet Gro Dahle released in 2012 and have pretty much sold out. Tronsmo had a few copies last time I was there, but I think that's it. The images from the book are available in edition of 4.
For a larger selection of the images available go to the archive
You Are Here Now - Some options are sold out.
4/4 - 27x41cm
4/4 - 80x120cm
1/1 - 150x225cm
Come, for all is now ready.
5/5 +2 - 27x40cm, 100x150cm, 150x225cm
5/5 + 1 - 27x40cm, 100x150cm, 150x225cm
These days are being spent in my Lofoten studio editing, curating and printing the 40 images of "Come, for all is now ready." The opening is at the museum in Tromsø on November 8th 2014 and the exhibition will hang for about six months.
Moment Group Show
November 21, 2014 - November 23, 2014
Fotomässan, Stockholm, Sweden
May 28, 2014 - September 29, 2014
Bogstad Gård, Oslo, Norway.
Scandinavian Moments (Moment Agency)
June 2014 - June 2015
Selected photos in both likely and unlikely places, Landskrona, Sweden.
You Are Here Now/Du Er Her No
September 12, 2014 - September 14, 2014
Factory Light, Slemmestad, Norway.
Kom, for alt er ferdig/Come, for all is now ready.
November 8, 2014 - May 2015.
Perspektivet Museum, Tromsø, Norway.
Dog and I was recently featured by Instagram collecting the incredible amount of 398.000 likes for this image. They also made an interview and put some background about our arctic world on their blog. (images link to original stories)
Grateful and happy to have received a Grant from Arts Council Norway to keep working with the long-term project Come, for all is now ready.
I will be showing the work Come, for all is now ready at SLIDELUCK in Oslo on May 15. I am in good company; the photographers presented are:
Ivar Kvaal | Linda Bournane Engelberth | Marie Sjøvold | Jørn Tomter
Eivind H. Natvig | Margaret M. de Lange | Helge Skodvin | Knut Egil Wang | Rune Hov
Terje Abusdal | Ingvild Vaale Arnesen | Sigurd Fandango | Anne-Stine Johnsbråten
Lars Petter Pettersen | Sofie Olsen | Tomm Wilgaard Christiansen | Christopher Olssøn
Iraq is home to more than 240.000 syrian refugees, most of them located in the northern Kurdish part of the country. During an assignment for the norwegian weekly Morgenbladet, we met a small percentage of these people. Traumatized by three years of uncertainty and often months on the run before first entering Kandala transit camp en route to larger, more permanent camps or a struggle for a self sufficient life in an strange country. Kurdistan is a peaceful place surrounded by incredible violence and threat to human rights and human lives. They carry as much of their belongings as they can, and more stories of fear and death than any single person should.
It’s just 15 minutes to the border. Terrorist Group ISIS is not far away. Al – Qaeda is not far away. Assad forces are not far away. The rebel group FSA is not far away. Amidst the chaos of the civil war, regular people are forced between a rock and a hard place.
During the very first month the syrian uprising had a goal, according to the refugees. But then they were forced to make an impossible choice. If you participated in the protests, the Assad forces would kill them. If you did not you risked execution from the insurgents. They are tired now. Exhausted after years of uncertainty and fear. 25 people stowed together in a one of the large tents of Kandala transit camp. Here they will register and move on to such tent cities as Domiz; a place of 45000 inhabitants. The 900 who arrived the day we were there is just a drop in the ocean of Syrian refugees; 224,000 in northern Iraq and 2,513,541 registered Syrian refugees in total. Not counting the 6,5 million who are on the run inside Syria.
This image of Oskars funeral from the long term project Come, for all is now ready was recently awarded the 2nd prize of Norwegian Picture of the Year in the people category.
You Are Here Now to be exhibited at Lofoten International Photofestival - Opening March 21st in Galleri Lille Kabelvåg
Some artifacts and images from a life on the road presented on National Geographics photoblog Proof.