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This was meant to be a blog post showing the design for my new children’s portrait book –

and instead it became a little article on photo story books, and why I am so inspired to make them!

The post showing designing samples from a portrait book, has instead been linked at the bottom of this post – if you wish to see it.

I recently designed a book with portraits that I photographed of two really cute brothers. And I want to take this opportunity to tell you about my love for photo books. To me a book of photographs is a story. A story in pictures about what happened in a certain time in a certain place. About what that person was like or what that certain person’s reality was like – because reality changes and will be different tomorrow.

It used to be that you had go to a library or to a book store, to access books with images – images that would tell you about yesterday, show you a frozen moment, a shot by a photographer of strangers. But technology has evolved. It is now possible to have the images of you frozen on to the pages. It’s no longer a story about strangers. You may laugh at the thought. But imagine how your grand children’s grand children will look at the images. It’s images of their grandmother’s grandmother in that book. It is not some stranger –  it’s somebody that is a part of them. And imagine in some 100 + years time from now, what the viewer will look at in an image. The fashion we had back in our days! The hair cuts. The gadgets. The cars. The buildings. The shop signs. The way people interacted. How the person in the image has exactly the same eyes or the same smile as their descendants some generations later.

Take this photograph for example, wich I shot of  a groom’s family waiting for the ceremony to start, at a wedding in London Design Museum. It’s nice to have for those who are related to the people in it – it’s a generation portrait really, with mother, daughter and grandmother. But there is another thing as well about this image. You might not think about it now, because we are too close to this image in time and because the image is a bit small on here – but look at the mobile phone. I got a close up of that mobile later on – I just had to when I found out how much it cost – which I’ve displayed so you can see it close up. Imagine what people who look at this image will see, in 100 years from now. That mobile, that is a piece of history for you right there. That dates the picture. That is what a pricy mobile phone looked like back in 2010, when mobiles was still a very young invention…. (before we had mobiles built in to our ears… well, who knows :))

wedding family portrait by louise bjorling

diamond mobile photography louise bjorling

 

For a long time I’ve enjoyed looking at photographs in books that tell me something about the people in it – and if the image gave me an understanding of what those people where feeling in that moment, or what their lives where like, shivers would be sent down my spine. But not until that day when I sat in the car on a Highway between Montreal and Toronto – and the sky opened up for months of stock with rain, did I realize why I actually wanted to make books of recorded memories for people.

 

My Canadian bride was the first of my clients to want a square book, and since we had been discussing design ideas together in the car and since we could not drive any further in the rain, we made a stop to visit the book store in a mall for some inspiration. That’s where I found� Love, a book released by National Geographic. And it was love at first sight. It was a book with recorded moments of love, photographed from all over the world, since the early days of the camera til the present times. And when I flicked through it, feeling those shivers down my spine, I realized how special it is to be able to see those moments caught in time. Moments that where photographed decades back – still here to tell the story about what once was. And I realized that photographing a person’s important day, with their thoughts, their personality and perhaps a flicker of their lives and being shining through, are put in to a book – not only for the wedding couple or parents to have – but also to still be here, for future generations to see.

www.nationalgeographic.com/books  FRONT COVER: Guillaume Herbaut

photo story book

 

Pictures excerpted from the book

BOOK TITLE: LOVE

BY: Ferdinan Protzman

 NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC, Washington DC

 

Here follow some favorites of mine from the book’s hundreds of images. Photographs that have that special moment of interaction between people, and that tells us something about those people’s place and time.

photo blog chapter coffeetable booksBy bert Glinn, Chicago 1968 ← →  By Herbert List, Italy 1959

photo blog on photo story booksBy Paul Fusco, R Kenedy funeral train 1969, US  ← → By Bruce Davidson, NYC 1966

blog chapter louise bjorling on photo story booksxxxBy Gueorgui pinkhassov, Montreal Canada 1997 ← → By Gueorgui pinkhassov, Kamtchaka Russia

blog chapter by louise bjorling on portrait booksBy Carlos Baria, Cuba 2006 ← → By Simon Wheatley, London 2005

photography blog chapter on book of lovexxBy Chien-chi-chang, NYC 2005  ← → By Guillaume Herbaut, Albania 2004

 Amazing hey. ↑ It could have been the same photographer. But yet it isn’t, just two different people with the same idea!

 

blog chapter on photo story booksxxBy Thomasz Tomaszewski, Romania 1999

blog chapter on book of love by national geographicxxBy unknown photographer, Crimea 1909.

– I love this photograph of princess Anastasia and prince Alexei. The children’s expressions are just so timeless – these children could be at any time and in any social class. Apart from the quality of the image, there’s nothing about the children that dates this image. Their expressions are timeless – you won’t be able to tell that this is early 1900s and there is nothing about them that specifies them as royalties. Children will be children.

And now from the book… some wedding photographs from back in the days!

photography blog on weddings from national geographic

 

Isn’t in cool to see all the different trends in wedding photographs from different times and places? Such as this one here – which unfortunately is dateless, but which obviously was shot at a time when tacky backdrops where on the agenda…. and for some reason the backdrop doesn’t feel tacky to me all the sudden, here it rather feels like a part of the history of photography!

 

This image underneath is by Henry Cartier Bresson, known amongst photographers to be the father of documentary photography (photojournalism).  And it is interesting to see that even in his wedding images back then, he is adapting to this – looking for a decisive moment to photograph the couple, rather than placing them to smile in front of the camera.

By A.Broomberg and O. Chanarin, Tanzania, date unknown

photography blog on weddings from national geographic bookBy Henri Cartier Bresson, 1938 ← → By Josef Koudelka, Chechoslovakia 1967

photography blog on weddings from national geographicxxx By Tomasz Tomaszewski, Romania, 1990′s…

photography blog on weddings from national geographicxxx By Elliott Erwitt, Russia, 1967

Always when I’ve flicked through the book, I’ve thought that this image above is American, I had planned in my head to say something about the “American 60′s fashion shining through” – and yet it is Russian. Cold wars apart, the fashion obviously found ways to slip through the door.

photography blog on weddings from national geographicxxx By Martin Chambi, Peru 1930

This is my favorite amongst wedding images from the book. Probably because it enables me to see what a wedding could look like all the way back in Peru in the 30s. The dress fashion. The style of the veil, which seems to be attached to some sort of hat. And it’s an interesting piece of information that the bride would have bridesmaids at that time as well, on the other side of the world… and I wonder what it could be that the little bridesmaids are wearing around their heads….

I think it is great with Internet, and I think that it is great for a wedding couple to be able to place their images on to their Face book page or on to My space , or where they want to post it. But those images unfortunately, might not be there tomorrow… So that is some (long piece of) information on on why I love photography books, and why I enjoy to make a book out of a couple’s wedding day or a portrait shoot.

I used to love the effects from infrared film when I studied National Diploma, my first course in photography. When people hear the word “infrared”, they tend to think about film cameras that record in complete darkness and create a greenish cast, grainy looking film. That is not at all what I am on about here. Infrared film for still camera, has been created in a way so that it is extra sensitive towards the red rays in light, and the effects from this would be that the film sort of reacts stronger to certain light – giving a very contrasty exposure, and sometimes the light would even give a ghostly effect look where the exposure is at the brightest. (All depending on how much infrared rays would be in the light source – and believe it or not, but the winter sun tends to have more infrared than the summer sun) Further, all foliage and certain material which has been made from growing material – such as for example knitted jumpers, would go really light, to add to that surreal effect. (You have probably all come across slightly surreal landscape photography at some point, with really dark sky and light foliage – yep that is infrared film. Actually, now days it more oftenly is digital with infrared effects added afterwards…)

There are some technical trickiness when using infrared film though. First of all, the camera film has to be loaded in complete darkness – it might fog otherwise since it is so sensitive to light. Secondly, it is difficult to focus it and to find the exposure. Even if something looks focused when photographing, it might not be – simply because the infrared film tends to focus slightly closer to the camera, than where the object is in focus in reality. Exposure might not be totally accurate to what the camera reads either, so best is to do different exposures while shooting – and different filters needs to be used to bring the effects out in the light.(Mainly deep red is used – but anything down to orange can be experimented with)

Every now and then my good old Medium format Bronica comes out from the wardrobe – I am not a “film freak”, but I do kind of miss the effect full b/w infrared film. And that’s when the Bronica comes out. Every time, I really struggle with the incredibly manual process of loading that old film camera in total darkness. And every time I am so chocked that it is still alive and that the negatives come back with recorded details on it. (That camera became mine in a second hand shop in Melbourne, before hitting the road with me for 4 months in Asia – on one occasion I mistakenly packed it in a bag that went on top of a bus roof, at the very bottom of many other bags, where it stayed for a 4 hrs shaky mountain trip on unpaved mountain roads in Laos…. If it can survive that, I guess it can survive anything.)

Anyway, when I met with this Bury St Edmunds couple to check the locations for their winter wedding, that’s when the Bronica came out again. We had decided to do a little pre portrait shoot since the couple wanted to get used to be relaxed in front of the camera. The couple loved the idea of trying a look that would be a bit different, so what better excuse to load it up with infrared again…

infrared wedding portraits bury st edmunds

infrared wedding photography bury st edmunds

infrared wedding photography bury st edmunds

Although the selection for infrared film isn’t what it was 10 (or even 5) years ago in this digital age, there are still some versions of infrared film to get hold of. The real film freaks would say though, that “it isn’t real infrared film”. And that’s kind of correct. I thought that the effect was a lot more subtle than with the film I used some years back. There was less of the ghostly effects in the images. Being November month, there wasn’t too much foliage around. But the leaves I managed to capture in the top images, really surprised me with not being effect fully white which I had expected. It could be that the foliage was a bit dead or that the light didn’t shine strongly enough on it – spring time photos would probably have looked different. I still really like the depth of the shadows in this film against the peak of brightness, together with a softness in focus so typical infrared film. It gives the images a slightly dreamy quality.

Of course, with infrared film being so difficult, I brought my digital camera on the day as well. And I wanted to compare the different looks afterwards. Here’s a colour image from my digital Nikon, to compare with – a lot more detailed and sharp, but also with less dreamy quality – although some nice contrast is brought out by the strong sun light in the digital image as well:

bury st edmunds wedding photography