Sail Away

I’ve been taking photos on and off since I was a kid, first with film cameras and then later digitally. Why have I kept coming back to it? Why do I take photos now, and why has photography become such a big part of my life?

I believe the short answer is that I have always been fascinated by how the medium of photography translates the world around me into a flat image.

As a teenager and in the first half of my twenties, my main motivation for taking photos was to preserve memories, from my travels as well as from important and ever-day occasions at home.

At some point, without really noticing it, I became concerned with the stories my images could tell. Nowadays, the main goal of my photography is to achieve exactly that – images that tell me a story, that, crucially, trigger my imagination by being more than snapshots, more than representations of what I saw.

I’ve always been concerned with stories and storytelling. I learned to read very early, my parents always read me stories at my bedside before I went to sleep, and I have been a voracious reader ever since. As well, I have a huge interest, professionally as well as on a hobby-basis, in mythology, medieval sagas, folklore and fairytales.

From time to time, I come across a story that touches me deeply. As the romantic teenager I was, I got the idea that I would like to repay the world for all those special stories that mean so much to me, in the sense that I might produce something that may affect other people as much as I am affected by the stories I read. This idea has stuck with me throughout the years.

Now, I will probably never be a fiction writer myself. What I have found, however, is that photography may serve the same purpose. So I have an external motivation for taking photos as well, namely the hope that other people will find their own stories in the images I shoot.

Having got a scanner for Christmas, I am in the process of digitalising my old prints. Many of those images are nothing more than snapshots. They are valuable as a reminder of how the world looked back then, but I don’t often bother to scan them. Sometimes, however, I find images that do tell me a story.

I’ve included one of these images below, as an example. This is from the last day of a tall-ships festival in Oslo, probably about ten years ago. I was watching the ships leave the harbour, which is exactly what the image shows. However, this image also speaks to me of departure, of the sadness of those left behind, as well wanderlust, the excitement of setting out on a journey, of sailing away to explore foreign seas.

If my future images speak to me like this ten years later, I know I shall have achieved something.

Sail away

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About Jenny Graver

Living in Oslo, Norway, with her partner and their infant son, Jenny struggles for balance between all the things that makes life worth living - her family, her job in university administration, her writing, learning and her photography. View all posts by Jenny Graver

9 responses to “Sail Away

  • Kat

    Oh, this is a gorgeous image and an amazing post. It is so wonderful that you found a powerful message in an image from long ago! Interesting how you weave the internal and external motivation together in the telling of stories. I agree, this image leaves a lot of room for the imagination. I love the tall ships – that’s not a sight you see every day!

  • mae (pmaelee on PW)

    oh i just love the cool breeziness of this image. you can almost smell the briny sea air. and the melancholy of departure comes through in spades. really nicely done!

  • Dotti

    Great post! You provided so much in depth insight into your thinking and what photography means to you. I love it!

    You helped me realize something I’ve thought of but brushed away regarding my own photography: Telling stories. The more photos I take, the more I realize that I’m telling stories. Now I think I’ll keep that in mind as I search out subjects and compose shots. Thanks so much!!

    Also, thanks for posting on our blog yesterday. We just revamped and are trying to increase traffic so I appreciate your visit! 😀

  • Jan

    What a lovely post! It must feel amazing that an image from so long ago remains so touching. I look forward to following your blog, both for your amazing photos and your remarkable words.

  • Gina

    I found your post very interesting too. I love thinking about how a photo can tell a story. The tall ships photo is a beautiful image…..gets me feeling kind of nostalgic.

  • Hillary

    maybe you will become a fiction writer … your writing is wonderful! as well as your photography. love the tall ship photo. keep on scanning!

  • Hillary

    ps – thanks for putting eyechai in your blogroll. how cool is that?!

  • Scenes in search of characters « As Far As I Can Tell

    […] sum, it all comes down to the ever-present desire to tell stories through photography, a desire I hope shall never leave me. <a […]

  • Reality and photographs (rules, part 2) « As Far As I Can Tell

    […] I have described before how my motivations for taking photos have changed, from wanting to preserve memories of holidays to creating stories with my images. As my visual storytelling skills develop, I have learned to use whatever editing tool I need to bring out the story. Equally important, I have stopped feeling guilty about editing my images. […]

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