Last Month’s Instagram

Once a month I will display one of my photos captured and/or processed with Instagram over the last month. It’s a way for me to show photography that usually is quite different from my regular work. The pictures are displayed without any comments, hoping they will stand on their own. But I still very much appreciate any comments you may have. For more photos; visit www.instagram.com/ottovonmunchow/

A Project Long Time in Coming

There is a valley. The mouth of the valley opens up right into the city. You can step straight from the urban settlement into Mother Nature. And vice versa. The name is Isdalen—Valley of Ice. And the city is Bergen, Norway—my city.

Ever since childhood, I have been drawn to the valley. There is something enigmatic about Isdalen. I have always felt it wasn’t typical Norwegian. More like the Swiss Alps, with its deep bottom, steep walls and ragged peaks surrounding the valley. If you have ever read Heidi, a children’s fiction from the 19th century by the Swiss author Johanna Spyri, then you get an idea.

My first photograph of Isdalen dates back to April 1978. Over the next many years, I have photographed in the valley, on and off and very inconsistently. However, after finishing the photojournalism and photo documentary program at International Center of Photography in New York in ‘90, and upon returning to Bergen, I made Isdalen a personal project of mine. However, after the intensity of photographing in New York, starting to photograph nature in Isdalen became more like an anticlimax.

I got some stories about Isdalen published in papers and magazine, but the project never really went anywhere.

Much later, I realized that my fascination with Isdalen, was much related to a handful of ruins of old farms that once were a community deep in the valley. As I wander around the centuries-old ruins of the farms, I get filled with a sense of belonging and tranquillity—as if I have returned home. I feel in myself the toil that those who ran the farms must have felt. I feel the exhaustion, the stoutness, but also the spirit and the glow that emerges from living so close to nature.

Today, Isdalen is a favourite hiking area for inhabitants of Bergen. But for centuries up until WWII, Isdalen was a vibrant but small and poor farming community with four farms living off the crops of the land and what the lush nature in the valley could yield.

In the spring of 2015, I started a new project photographing Isdalen, but now with the focus on the traces of this once vital community and the feelings it invokes in me. This time, though, I realized that the right expression would be by use of the facets of triptychs.

It is these feelings I tried to describe above, from which my photo project materializes. The aim of the photo project is not to create a tangible and unambiguous expression, but to inspire the viewers to uncover their own experiences in the encounter with the farm ruins and their surroundings. Through my photos.

So far, I have completed seven triptychs. In addition, and over the last few years, I have photographed and processed enough single images to be able to put together another ten triptychs.

Let me add that I have always been fascinated by those places where once people lived. There is something almost magical about the remnants of once thriving cultures, whether urban communities such as Machu Picchu or small farms such as the ones in Isdalen. I am struck by awe, thinking about how their lives were. How did they go about their everyday chores? How did they think about their future? Were they happy? Or was life a struggle? And then I think about present day’s cultures. How will they look like for future generations if what we know today would then be abandoned? What would the remnants tell about our lives?

These are some images captured from my first project period, after returning from New York:

Last Month’s Instagram

Each day up to Christmas Eve last year, I posted a new landscape photos on my Instagram account. They were photos from previous travels around the world, which I had processed anew and differently. The idea was to make a visually coherent expression and evoke a little bit a feeling of how it was to travel—when we actually could.

It was a fun little project, of which this images here was one of the 37 seven photos I ended up posting on Instagram. In hindsight, it was a fun experience, to do and to see how it was received. I certainly got much positive response, even from people I incidentally met on the street. And an increase in numbers of followers Maybe the sheer amount in the end overwhelmed my audience as the comments and response decreased towards the end. But that’s OK. I would definitely do a publishing project like that again.

Maybe something for you to think about if you have an Instagram account?

This post marks a little change in my blog when it comes to showing images that I have first posted on Instagram. Previously, I had a weekly posting on my blog with Last Week’s Instagram, one image picked from the week’s collection. As from now, I will only pick once a month, so that the column becomes Last Month’s Instagram. If you want to see all images I post on Instagram, you may follow me on: www.instagram.com/ottovonmunchow/

Therapy of Now

The raw material for photography is right now. You can’t take a photo tomorrow. Of course, you can wait until tomorrow, for that particular now when you press the shutter button. But you can’t capture the photo, neither before nor after, if you didn’t do it then. In the same way, you can’t capture a photo yesterday, if you didn’t do it then, in that now.

Photography forces you to be in the present. It’s all about finding the right now to press the shutter button. You can’t vast the moments if you want to photograph. Whatever you didn’t capture now, is forever lost. Photography forces you to pay attention and notice whatever is happening right in front of your eyes. Right now.

The camera is an instrument for presence. By default, photography facilitates mindfulness. No doubt, all creative activity, which allows us to enter flow, will have that affect, but in particular, photography is a forceful catalyst for mindfulness, exactly because it forces us to be so aware of the now.

You can’t worry about what has happened before or about the future, when you are fully aware of the present moment.

The photographic process pulls us into the moment, makes us seize this precious time we never get back. The ability to concentrate and be present is a prerequisite for taking good pictures. What more is, practicing being in the presence when photographing, makes it easier to be present even without a camera.

Whether you capture a photo at a fraction of a second or with a minutes’ long exposure, your mind will be focusing on what is happening right now. In our modern society we all too much think about and plan the future, get stressed by all the things we need to do, have regrets and are bothered by whatever we didn’t get a chance to do or did do but erroneously; there is so much to think about, that we forget to live. In this very now. No matter what, life happens here and now. Not tomorrow and not yesterday. Future plans have no value before they actually happen, or even worse, if they don’t ever come to be realized.

Thus, photography is a mental health catalyst. It gives us a feeling of mastery. Because the way to master the present moment, is also the way to master everything else. It all starts with the first, uncertain step, the first, terrible photo. Right now. Photography is therapy for the mind. It keeps the mind healthy.

Last Week’s Instagram

Once a week—or every so often—I will display one of my photos captured and/or processed with Instagram over the last week. It’s a way for me to show photography that usually is quite different from my regular work. The pictures are displayed without any comments, hoping they will stand on their own. But I still very much appreciate any comments you may have.

New Energy

I have not been present on my blog for about a month and a half. The last post was the one on September 25th. Maybe you have noticed...

If I have been absent, the world still keeps moving forward in its crooked orbit, no matter what. The numbers of newly infected has skyrocketed all over the world during this time (with the slightly encouraging exception of the African continent—particularly south of Sahara). At the same time, a new president has been elected in the States, bringing some hope to these dark and gloomy times.

All while the world has spun further out of its trajectory, I have done some inventory on my own. The times, limiting most normal activities, almost encourage engaging in some reflective pursuit. Not much else to do these days, anyway. In addition, about to finish a three-month long mentor program I have been teaching, I suddenly find myself with even more time for self-development.

This blog is close to have existed for ten years. I wrote my first blog June 9th 2011. That turned into 790 posts over the next years—not counting this one. Maybe it’s time to do something else? If not, it’s definitely time for changing the framework of the blog. The question is; where do I want to go? Still don’t know, but ideas are emerging.

While still struggling with the future path, let me tell you about my latest photo project. As for people in general, my travelling has been severely limited after the outbreak of covid-19. In fact, I haven’t travelled at all. And I usually spend some hundred days travelling each year. Thus, I have decided to go through my archive of photos, looking for landscape photos from all over the world I could change into something different. I ended up with 37 images in which I have skewed the colours and changed the framing.

The photos are posted on my Instagram account, one each day up until Christmas. I have called the project Cross Colour Landscape, the first image posted here. If you want to follow the series, you’ll find my Instagram site here: www.instagram.com/ottovonmunchow.

Let me finally take the liberty to draw your attention to the new eBook I launched this autumn. It goes into depth about seeing with the intention of photographing and how to develop the ability. “Photographically Seeing—Seeing Better, Seeing Deeper” is 106 pages packed with useful information and practical exercise to make to see what is rather than what you believe is there. You’ll find more info and can order the book here: www.munchow.no/ebook2.

Last Week’s Instagram

Once a week—or every so often—I will display one of my photos captured and/or processed with Instagram over the last week. It’s a way for me to show photography that usually is quite different from my regular work. The pictures are displayed without any comments, hoping they will stand on their own. But I still very much appreciate any comments you may have.

Last Week’s Instagram

Once a week—or every so often—I will display one of my photos captured and/or processed with Instagram over the last week. It’s a way for me to show photography that usually is quite different from my regular work. The pictures are displayed without any comments, hoping they will stand on their own. But I still very much appreciate any comments you may have.

Last Week’s Instagram

Once a week—or every so often—I will display one of my photos captured and/or processed with Instagram over the last week. It’s a way for me to show photography that usually is quite different from my regular work. The pictures are displayed without any comments, hoping they will stand on their own. But I still very much appreciate any comments you may have.

Last Week’s Instagram

Once a week—or every so often—I will display one of my photos captured and/or processed with Instagram over the last week. It’s a way for me to show photography that usually is quite different from my regular work. The pictures are displayed without any comments, hoping they will stand on their own. But I still very much appreciate any comments you may have.