No more trains

Very different human stories, the same destiny: a subway station. Not as a short, noisy interlude between home and work or between family life and friends, but itself home, family, friend and only daily occupation.

Some of these people just kept missing the train of their life, the train that could have taken them to a regular office job or to the joys of a happy family. Some others jumped on many trains but were thrown off each and every one of them, humiliated like ticketless passengers.

Invisible border

A couple of centimeters of glass can keep two worlds completely apart. It happens in prisons. It happens in the streets. I took this picture in a busy shopping street of Quartier Latin in Paris, in 2005. On the one side of the window of a fashion store, while their parents do some shopping, two children look at the unaware homeless man sitting just on the other side of the window.

A thin glass plate is the invisible border between young and old, rich and poor, symbolically separating innocent childhood and adult life at its hardest.

(Image awarded the 1st price in the category “snapshot of the month” by National Geographic and published on issue 8/2012 for the Scandinavian countries)

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Dummies

I’ve always been searching for new ways to make my life meaningful, to fill it with something worthy. And I’ve always felt little and insignificant comparing myself with those I admire, famous or completely unknown people who really make the difference for others as well as filling their own lives with things worth living for.

I believe that having a brain and a normally functioning body and living under the most fortunate conditions almost forbids us to just stand and watch, like headless, armless dummies. I have always dreamt of getting my chance to act, well knowing that my definition of acting requires either a particularly smart brain or guts, if not both.

Now, I have a chance. Engineers Without Borders need a geologist with landslide / avalanche experience in a remote province of north-eastern Afghanistan, where entire villages have been buried and hundreds of people killed by major avalanches the last two winters.

One of the dummies is tired of standing there and watching, and in a few weeks will not only try to help those people stay safe against avalanches, but hopefully also tell their stories in pictures. Stay tuned.

Turid

I was taking street photos, when I came across a nursing home that I didn’t even know was there. Just outside it, on a wheel chair, an elegant old lady seems to be enjoying some fresh air as she whaves me hallo. Then she tells me to be careful not to slip on the ice, how nice of her!

I stop to exchange a few words, and she promptly introduces herself as Turid. Without asking too much, I find myself knowing a bit of her life: a life long job at a hospital in Sweden, many years going fast, a move back to Norway after retirement, and now her new life, receiving that care that she used to give others.

I hope Turid is happy as she receives a couple of prints I sent her of these photos. She was so amused and flattered by being photographed!

The perfect machine

Few things fit to the definition of “the perfect machine” better than an orchestra. To agree on this, you just need to commit yourself to learning an instrument. It will take you many years of devotion (and frustration) and most likely you’ll never get close to the skills it takes to perform in a real orchestra.

Some years ago I was asked to take a few photos of the Tromsø Chamber Orchestra during a rehearsal. Here are some shots.

Am I a criminal?

Two days ago, once again in Oslo, I got slightly in trouble with a hotel receptionist for taking one of the photos in the series below. She meant I was not allowed to photograph the hotel window from the public street. I protested that even though it was a private property, it’s perfectly visible from the public street and there’s no sign forbidding photography.

After I got back to my hotel, I did some research to find out what the Norwegian law says about street photography. Am I only doing this now after 10 years of street photography? Yes in fact.

What I found out is that the Norwegian law is very strict in protecting personal rights. It’s perfectly legal to photograph anyone (maybe except children) without asking for a permission, but it’s not allowed to publish photographs of identifiable persons without their permission. Exceptions are photos where the identifiable persons are taking part in street protests, parades or similar, photos that have a public usefulness (whatever that is), and photos the main content of which isn’t the person – although identifiable – but the situation, the context this person is involved in. Hopefully, most of my pictures will fall within this last category for the judge who gets my case the day someone sues me for doing street photography and sharing it. The alternative is photos like the ones below, without a face or a soul. Feel free to leave a thought on this, if you like.

København

Just back from a week end in wonderful Copenhagen, here are a few street shots…

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