Week 53 - 2015

The road is made as we go

Sophus Tromholt, Laplander, 1883. Albumen print. Preus museum's collection

The road is made as we go

During the winter of 1882-83 Sophus Tromholt, the Danish researcher into Northern lights, set out to take pictures of the dancing lights at Kautokeino. The photographic process had limitations at the end of the 1800s, and amateur photographer Tromholt finally shot his own drawings of the lights, not the lights themselves.


But when projects don't go according to plan, it's smart to look for other possibilities. Tromholt used some of his time to photograph the Sami population in Karasjok. The photographs were later published in the portfolio Billeder fra Lappernes Land [Pictures from the Land of the Lapps]in 1885.


Tromholt's portraits of the Sami distinguish themselves from anthropological photographs taken during the same period. He is less concerned with studying the Sami as a human group, more with portraying them as individuals.


In our time the legacy of Tromholt is seen as unique. The archive, owned by Special Collections at the University of Bergen, is part of UNESCO's World Heritage register, which seeks to preserve and publicize the world's cultural heritage.