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May - Morten Krogvold.

As a photographer, your job is to force yoursef - often uninvited - into a person¥s private space. To assess every situation as it unfolds; with immediacy and with presence. The goal is not to take pictures, not to describe one side of the encounter, but rather to stop time, to describe the meeting between subject and photographer. In the poorest part of Africa what strikes you are smiling faces, dignity, and politeness of the people you meet The warmth and beauty that comes from people who own nothing more than their grace and love of life. Perhaps we have more to learn from them than they from us.

“Images” – the latest publication of Norwegian photographer Morten Krogvold – is a sophisticated book that contains, among other images, old and new portraits of well-known people, mostly artists, from Norway and abroad. They include Liv Ullmann, Arja Sajonmaa, Amanda Ooms, Sinéad O’Connor, Vigdis Finnbogadóttir, Nelson Mandela and, last but not least, Queen Sonja of Norway. The book also contains photographs taken during Krogvold’s many trips to Africa. These images portray what is often a hard life, yet still radiate an air of optimism and joy. The final part of the book is made up of images of animals, both dead and alive, portrayed in Krogvold’s own special way. A photograph of a dead bird against a pane of glass wet by the rain becomes a powerful work of art.

Many regard Krogvold as one of Scandinavia’s foremost portrait artists. “People often look very good in my photos, although I never use diffusers or retouch my images. The challenge for me lies in always bringing out the most beautiful and individual aspects of the subject, whoever I am photographing. My motto is that there is no such thing as a boring model, just boring photographers.”

“Images” was jointly produced with Lexmark Norge, a technology company that aims to promote Norwegian culture and commerce. Lexmark is one of Krogvold’s most important clients, and Krogvold organises photography workshops through the Krogvold-Lexmark academy. To date, Krogvold has held around 80 workshops in Norway, at which he enthusiastically shares his experience and knowledge with thousands of faithful delegates. He has also lectured and held workshops in many European countries, as well as the US, China and South Africa. Morten Krogvold is no run-of-the mill speaker, but is transformed into something of an entertainer when he walks on stage.


Krogvold has carried out several major assignments in Africa for the aid organisation Care Norge. Care supports people in the poorest countries of the world and helps them build their own future. Krogvold has been commissioned to photo-document the work of Care in Niger, Tanzania and Kenya. The result is an impressive collection of photographs of people, animals and environments. This work not only meant a great deal to the client, but also to the photographer himself. “What I remember most are smiling faces, waving children and adults, dignity, politeness and curiosity. It was enormously stimulating to meet people who live so differently to the way we do; people who do not own a thing, but have so much to teach us in this part of the world.”

Krogvold describes himself as multicultural, with a keen interest in movement and dance, silence, and the drama of nature; a photographer who is solidly rooted in tradition ideals, but still has a strong longing for renewal. “It’s only now, after twenty years in the business, that I have entered my experimental period. I now have the courage to take a rawer, fresher approach.”

When Krogvold describes the way he works he returns frequently to the importance of working freely. “I plan very little. I am spontaneous and grab the chance when it appears, which it does very often. Photography is naturally all about intuition, empathy and timing. I use a tripod when I have to, particularly in the studio and for still-life and landscape photography. But it’s liberating to work hand-held when it’s appropriate. I use lenses with focal lengths ranging from 50 to 150 mm, and occasionally longer. I use the slowest film possible, preferably with ambient light. I have cut down the amount of equipment I use – and that is truly liberating. The camera should not be a sophisticated tool, otherwise it can easily become a hindrance. I personally use a Hasselblad 500C and Hasselblad XPan. The classic Hasselblad cameras are so simply designed that you never need to puzzle over the operation of the camera when you are working. They are also very well built. Try it yourself, pick up a Hasselblad and you’ll know why I use one!”

Having recently returned from Italy, Krogvold has now taken up work on one of his many projects, a book with the working title “Mystical Italy”. He is also preparing for a portrait exhibition entitled “100 women – 100 portraits”. As if this were not enough, he is also working on a still-life series about light. “Then of course I want to continue my work in Africa,” says this incessantly active photographer. Krogvold has never regretted his choice of career. “I have the characteristics I believe are most important in a photographer: a combination of enthusiasm and passion for work. I’m full of energy and ideas, and believe that I can create many interesting images in the future. But it takes time to set yourself free, and although I’m not entirely satisfied with everything I’ve done, there is a lot I am proud of. You could say that I’m getting there.”

Kerstin Fiedler