HEIME – The long and winding road
When i first started getting serious about my photography, sometime around 2008, i had no idea where my photographic journey would take me. But even at this early stage i played around with a future dream of making a photo book. Ive been a bookaholic since i was little, obsessing on books about birds and fishing. So the dream of making a book was present for a long time. And a few years later an idea started to take shape.
Early on in my project i had a vision of a book solely focused on the mountain areas up here in Northern Norway. I knew that if i somehow was able to put together a book, it would have to be something involving my home area, the place that has shaped me into who i am today. It had to be something im deeply connected with. And the mountains that i often call the Misty Mountains, is as close to my heart as anything.
So i kept on shooting the areas over time. Slowly collecting images for a future publication, but as time passed i started to rethink the project. I realised that a book deserved so much more than only the mountains. My home area has so much to offer; rivers and waterfalls in all shapes and sizes, ghostly forests and an incredible coast line. All of these needed to be in the book.
In the fall of 2019 i contacted the publishing company that has been doing most of my print work for many years, and we started to make a rough outline for the project. I have a large collection of photo books and i have a clear opinion on what makes a great book. I wanted a simple yet elegant design. Heavy matte paper with no reflective shine at all. I dont like looking at pictures in my comfy chair and have light reflected all over the place. So the paper has to be really rough and non-reflective. My all time favourite photo book is “Arctique” by Vincent Munier, and in my head i used that as a guiding star.
So i brought my wish list to the publisher and said “this is what i want!” The response was exactly what i hoped for. “Sure, we can do this.” So from that moment i knew that i could realize the project and make it exactly the way i want it. No compromises, just 100% ME from A to Z.
Then the real work started. Design and image selection. In terms of design I wanted it simple and clean. No words, except foreword and a statement. The rest is all about the images. I already knew the storyline and how that would set the premises for the image selection. The book will take you through the year, from the cold white January all through the warm arctic summer and ending in another cold and dark December.
I thought image selection would be easy and quick. Oh how i was wrong! After shooting the area since 2008 i thought i had most of the material i needed, but i couldnt have been further away from the truth. Since those early days my photography style and vision has changed dramatically. My older work feels like the work of another person, one that i once knew but have since lost contact with. I spent weeks working my way through the archive trying to find images that i felt could work. This was such an eye-opening experience. It forced me to look at my own work with a new pair of eyes. And it taught me a lesson. Never delete raw-files that you think is not good enough! As i went through folders from the early years i discovered some gems that at the time seemed rubbish to me, but now, with my developed vision, seemed really good! And this happened quite a few times. The images that i had posted at the time, now felt like poor work, while others suddenly came to life. A true eye-opener for me.
I quickly realized i had work to do. I needed more material. Much more material. I didnt want to make a book of half decent work collected over the years, i wanted a book that represents me as a photographer 100%. And to do that i had to get to work. Over the following year i shot as much as possible and i spent more time out in the field than i dreamed would be possible. The Covid-19 pandemic turned out to be a positive aspect in this. All our workshops around the world suddenly got postponed, so i had a calendar filled with absolutely nothing. I could explore and shoot more than ever and i made good use of the time i had available.
So i worked simultaneously with the image selection and design, as well as producing new material along the way. That way i was able to shoot images that i knew would fit right into the book and my success ratio reached new highs. For instance, during 6 days on the yearly Misty Mountains tour i managed to produce 19 images that ended up in the book. This was only possible because i worked on the timeline in the book simultanously with shooting for that same timeline. I knew what kind of images i needed, the tones, the detail shots to accompany the bigger shots. All these things that i normally dont consider at all, they were suddenly taking a lead and telling me how to see, shoot and process.
Choosing the page layouts is tedious work. It is crucial for the end result. Which images work well together? This took months to perfect, and the selection changed constantly. And since my inspiration was at an all time high i kept producing new material all the time. So the whole process was like a living organism, taking new directions and making twists and turns constantly. It was exhausting and extremely time consuming, but in the end, the final layout was exactly what i had dreamt of. I couldnt have done it any differently. This was me. My work. 100%.
When we made the rough outline of the project we aimed at around 150 pages in total. We ended up with 248 pages. I hoped for around 120 images, but ended up at 205. Out of these, 144 images has never been published anywhere. And i dont want to show these before the book is out, which is really hard cause its just SO tempting to post some of the images, which i considered to be my best work to date. But it allowed me to let the images rest for a while and as months passed i would have a look at them within the context of the book and see which one worked and which didnt. The whole process was very interesting and rewarding.
Along the way i had to get input from someone outside the project. I need fresh eyes to look carefully through it all. Thankfully i have plenty of capable eyes available, so i gathered important input and opinions that made me able to do small, but crucial adjustments to both image selections and layout.
When i got the pdf version of the book from the publisher, my eyes teared up a little. Seeing all the work and envisioning what it will look like in print, was just too much. When you finish a project like this, you feel empty. Like your creativity has been drained. Thats how i feel now. Mentally exhausted and nervous. A couple of weeks ago i received the print samples. The samples were just a tiny tad too dark, due to the rough paper that literally sucks a bit of the brightness out of the images. So i had to go in and brighten up all the images, based on what i could see from the samples. Frustrating and stressful.
Right now im in a state of anxiety, exhaustion, happiness and adrenaline rush. I`ve let the baby fly away and its ready for a life on its own.
The work is me. 100%.
– HEIME – is ready for preorder from January 3rd. Order your copy here
2 of the pages in the book