The Interview: In The Beginning

The Interview: In The Beginning

Beach Man © Knut Skjærven

Beach Man © Knut Skjærven

The Henri:

Tell me, Knut, how did you come to take an interest in street photography?

Knut Skjærven:
Well, I can answer that pretty precisely. We are back in 2010. It all started then.

In june 2010 I had arranged the third Street Meet in Berlin. I did that as a member of The Contax G Pages, that I had been a member of for several years. That site brought me back into photography around the millennium.

The idea was that we should have an annual street meet though it was not called that at the time. It was called The G Summit for the first 3 years.

Since nobody else volunteered to take the task, I did. Seems to be the story of my life initiating things. Not that I complain much though. It seems to how thing are.

We all shot with either  a Contax G1 or Contax G2, which is a splendid camera and had beautiful Carl Zeiss lenses. I had a lot of equipment but sold most of it later (which I today regret). I still have a Contax G2 and the 45mm Carl Zeiss lens. I have recently started warming it up again. In quality it matches Leica, if you ask me.

The first Street Meet was held in 2008 and the second in 2009.

The problem was that I after a lot of work and arranging I came back with about 2000 film shots of very uninteresting things. I had no plan, I had no idea for what I was shooting. There was a lot of work and expense ahead since I did the scanning myself. On a little Minolta. Dimage Scan Dual II. I still have it. It took ages to complete.

In 2010 I changed strategy and decided that since we were in a large city with streets all over, I decided to do street photography. What could be more obvious.

I could hardy spell to ‘street photography’ at that time and knew very little about it. I remembered that I had seen individual photographs made be Henri Cartier-Bresson (1908-2004) but that was all.

I started searching the internet for both information and inspiration. I found a few sites but nothing that impressed me much. So I made my own way into street photography.

In 2007 I had started barebones communication (2007) for my own pleasure. That was not particularly about photography but it tended to develop that way.

In 2010 I added Berlin Black and White (2010) and filled that up with some 400 photographs over one or two months. That was quick, I though.

As I wanted to have theory to go hand in hand with practise and I started Phenomenology and Photography (2010). That was also during the summer 2010.

Both site are still there but as I ended up with a serious of project and sites to maintain, I have now concentrated it all in On Street Photography and Other Life Changing Events (2014). This site. It carries the project New Street Agenda, which was its first name and is still in its URL.

New Street Agenda is the name of the project and On Street Photography and Other Life Changing Event is the blood that runs in its veins. New Street Agenda leads to Life Changing Events. That is the way it, at least, works for me. There are plenty of other sites connected to the project but lets leave them out.

From I made the decision to engage in street photography I just dug in. I knew, if I am permitted to day so, I could do that more dedicated than most. That was not very hard since dedications nowadays seems to be for the few and not for the many. So I found it to be in street photography.

Besides, I you want anything in this world you better stop being timid about it. I set out wanting to develop the area, and within the span of some years to gain much knowledge. No good in doing things half way. This process is what I still am in.

It gave me an advantage that I run a similar project for advertisers in Denmark. It actually brought me a life long job in the Danish advertising industry. I have been on both sides of that game. Mostly on the buyers side. I developed the first courses that took the side of the advertising buyers as to understand and optimise the potential of visual  communication advertising.  I was into doing qualitative content analysis for companies that needed to develop new products and new markets. It is all about finding a space and create an opportunity.

With that experience I simply started all over again with a new headline but with much the same concept and content. The leap is not that big. I used to do advertising and visual communication, I now do street photography. Part of the same packet.

I have written tons of articles and a book related to visual communication applied to advertising and business  communication.  Those who read Danish will find that many of the ideas that I today try to apply to street photography, were already developed for the advertising area.  I have gathered some of the articles on my Vintage sites. Written in Danish.

One other important thing was that I actually had stumbled over a few photographs that had set my thinking in motion. Maybe there was something here that I had overlooked? Quite by incident I had taken a few photos that lifted above what I actually thought I could do.  It interested me.

They came in handy at this moment as silent supporters for what I wanted to do. One of these photograph, among very few others, is Beach Man, that I took in Spotorno, Italy in 2001. Shot with a Contax G. Has to have been my G1.

Equipped by these experiences or lack of experiences, I just jumped in. And in is where I am.

I end here.

I hope that this what you had in mind, The Henri :-). I may come back and change a word of two in my answer. Hope that is ok?

I understand you have some more questions. Let’s have them.

Read the other posts in The Interview. You will find them in chronological order below:
The Interview (1): In the Beginning; The Interview (2): Street Photography and Phenomenology! What About It?;

© Knut Skjærven
Copenhagen, November 1, 2016.

#thehenri #knutskjærven #knutskjaerven #newstreetagenda #theinterview #oneverystreet #leicastreetphotography


About author

Knut Skjærven

Knut Skjærven is a Norwegian photographer, writer and researcher working out of Copenhagen, Denmark.

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