Hey guys. I don't know how many of you who participated in the thread are still active. I must thank you for the patience you had with me. It's been a while, and I did end up going to study in London. If you're curious how it went, here is how and how I am today. Apologies for the cheesy introduction - it was originally written for something else, but I couldn't help going back here with it, given the discussion in this thread.
On a cold September day in 2011, I was sitting in my uncle’s car on the way to the airport. From the moving car, I was overlooking the rugged Norwegian landscape, veiled in rain and wind, and thinking about what was ahead of me. My application to study at university had been successful, and I was going to London, a city I had built my view of through the internet, TV, books and photographs, but never actually visited. I was going there to study photography for three years. Back then, I was 19, and I had no shortage of confidence in my abilities. I had been taking pictures since I got my first digital camera at the age of 16, and two years later I had started a business, taking people’s portraits and doing wedding photography. I was making money, and felt that I could probably make a healthy living if I kept pursuing it. At the time, I honestly thought I was a great photographer, and that there was not much I could learn. But, I still decided to go, and today I am incredibly happy to have done so, because the guy I was back then knew very little about actual photography - he just happened to have spent a lot of money on cameras and lights.
Growing up in a fishing village on the coast of north-west Norway, I had very little art in my life. I read some books, saw some films and the occasional play organised by the school. I loved writing stories and drawing things. I wish I could say I fell in love with photography when I saw a picture appear on paper as it floated around in the developer tray, but I didn’t see that until much later when I started my university course. I think I started with photography because it appeared so simple, and I liked the thought of extracting a picture from reality by pushing a button. It was a very superficial interest, and one that didn’t develop much, because I didn’t have access to photography books, exhibitions, or peers that would give me incentive to do so. I owe it to my secondary school teacher Svein for asking questions and sparking a deeper interest in photography, which in turn made me apply for the BA.
It has been nearly three years since I first arrived here, clumsily getting my suitcase stuck (and ripping the handle off) in the ticket gates at London Bridge. What happened between then and now? The short story is, I joined a great photography course and came to a city where there are people who care about art, which consequently led me to aspire towards gaining more knowledge and making better work. The course and the city has had an equally big impact in how I have developed as a person and a photographer. The enjoyment of the study has been one of the most rewarding aspects of the move. I continue to discover new work in galleries and in bookshops as well as online, and these are privileges of living in London. I have a genuine interest in photography today, which only a couple of years ago did not extend beyond cameras and lenses. I look at it in a different way than before, in a more curious and critical way, which in turn yields a much greater satisfaction to the work I do.
Coming to a new place gives you the opportunity to see something with fresh eyes. This includes yourself and where you are from. It has allowed me to distance myself from my roots, which not only gave me the opportunity to build a more informed, international approach to photography, but also to see my own country with a more objective gaze. Importantly, I am able to meet and make friends with other photographers and artists, who themselves are going through the same process of trying to mature into a good practitioner, and also to have tutors who long since have done this and offer their advice. It’s easy to be lulled into complacency if you don’t allow yourself to see things from a different perspective, and having a network of peers around you along with maintaining the study feels like a good way to prevent it.
As far as my work as a photographer is concerned, I have only just started, and the real work comes in the years ahead, when I am no longer in the comfortable position of being a full-time student. Of course, there is no guarantee I’ll be successful as a photographer, nor that I will continue to live in London. Competition is fierce, rent is high, and right at this moment, I have no idea what the coming years will bring. But I think that I have laid the best foundation I can, and I owe that to myself for channeling my exorbitant confidence into moving and allowing myself to learn.