black and white photograph of a man with a bicycle

Man with bicycle, overexposed HP5 (larger)

Some decades ago, I believe in 1994 but I might be mistaken, I found myself in Denmark. Where people travel by bicycles. Among other things, I operated a camera. During that trip I made probably one of my all time favorite portraits—that wasn’t finished syncing to Dropbox when I left work today and probably isn’t something I’m about to share anyway.

In those days I went about with an SLR camera and a 35mm lens, sometimes a fifty, seldom something else. 90% of the time loaded with HP5—the black and white classic from Ilford which, if I’m not mistaken, is still in production—that I processed in a tiny darkroom while enjoying the smell of the chemicals (not being ironic, I really did).

I had this hardly-defined idea about how I wanted to be a street photographer, without much of a notion about what a street photographer did or was—other than being someone who observed and absorbed perhaps the life on the street and somehow managed to translate that to a 36mm strip of film—and still don’t. I believe it was more about the wish to be a part of something, rather than photographs. Such as the one above that was obviously done sometimes after finding out how much I liked the blurry movement effect of a 1/8th of a second or slower shutter speed.

I also had a—also hardly-defined—idea about wanting to photograph people, away from the street context. Again, the wish to be-a-part-of, to belong, and other than that not much of an idea what a portrait was about, but in contrast to street photography I do seem to have developed some opinions about portraiture since. It wasn’t long after this though that I stopped photographing altogether, mostly because it wasn’t going anywhere. Stuck on a street, at 1/8th of a second I guess.

Some years later I picked it up again, the camera and the thirty-five, and although it took years before vaguely starting to form an identity as a photographer, I’m glad I did. And as much as I find the photograph above a bit of a cliché and seem to be somewhat embarrassed by it, I’m bloody fond of it too. Much more fond of it actually than anything else. I mean, it’s a footprint. On a path that—although crooked and rocky, without a notion of destination, often going in circles and seemingly never coming to an end—I’m really glad to have hiked on.

Lately though it feels more and more like it’s time for another break from hiking. That, or I need to find a pair of boots that fit better.

Paper route

When I was a kid I delivered a newspaper. A horrible, horrible newspaper, but I didn’t know that until many years later. I can’t remember when I started or how long it lasted, I think until I was thirteen or fourteen. Anyway, each morning I got up, long before most of my classmates, picked up the pile of newspapers that had been delivered outside my house earlier that night, and set off on the daily 60–90 minutes route, depending on how weighty that day’s publication was.

Back then I remember how I pretended to hate it. Or, in hindsight, how I lacked the appreciation for what it had to offer. The rest of my days were fairly packed with activities—sport, music, school of course—so there wasn’t much time to be on my own. The paper route offered a bit more than an hour of daily alone-time, where I had nothing but my own thoughts to deal with. I believe it was the closest I ever got to meditating.

Earlier this year I had to spend a couple of weeks in Iceland, not far from where I used to live back in the days. One morning I decided to walk the paper route. Took some photographs. Found out that I might want to chase it some.

Paper Route (larger)

I don’t go there often, so it will certainly become a long-term project, if a project at all.

Time shows.


Thinking out loud.
Gently kicking ones own behind in order to not let these hide away in a dark corner of a harddisk.

Artist studio: Jonas Ib F.H. Jensen

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