Tag Archives: black and white photography

Birthe Havmøller: Photography as Poetry

Trige Skov #1
 / Trige Forest #1 (1997/2019) from ‘Nature hidden in plain sight’. Photograph © Birthe Havmøller..

Laurie says:

I very much admire the Danish photographer Birthe Havmøller’s art. I knew her as the editor of Feminine Moments, a superb webzine – an international resource site and art blog about fine art made by lesbian, bisexual and queer feminist artists. She did an article on my Pandemic Shadow project and in our email conversation I discovered that she was a photographer. I looked at her work and it was exquisitely beautiful. Her work is mostly photographs of nature in varied forms and her compositions are stunning. To get a sense of the beauty and breadth of her work check out here, here, and here.

I thought that my 2 books and my Women of Japan project were very long term. They took between 5-7 years to complete. She makes them look like fast work. Her nature project is what she calls “slow photography” and has been in process for 31 years. These photos can only give you a small window into her work.


Blishøne / Coot (2016) created for the ‘HABITAT:AArhus’ open air exhibition, Aarhus 2017. Photograph © Birthe Havmøller
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The “blishøne” is a the common coot (Fulica atra); I photographed the bird in one of the ponds on the University campus near the Natural History Museum.  — Aarhus (we write Århus) was the European Capitals of Culture in 2017 i.e. the city hosted the traveling arts and culture festival. … The ‘HABITAT:AARHUS’ photography project was a part of the Aarhus 2017 festival co-organised by the Natural History Museum and a Copenhagen printing house… The aim of this project was to tell a story about “Nature” within the city limits of Århus… The project was an interesting challenge from a natural history documentary point of view. However, as I mentioned in my statement I want to do visual poetry rather than documentary images
. Her photo was a runner up in the HABITAT:AARHUS’ photography project.

The quotes below are from her very eloquent artist’s statement.
Birthe Havmøller:

I am a visual artist and a queer feminist activist. I have been exploring my visual language for more than 25 years. I aim to make artworks which are in harmony with Nature. Photography is my favourite media. I am photographing my inner landscapes, realising that every manifestation is but the starting point of a new journey, a new wish to see what is behind the next hill or perhaps in my case, what is behind the next forehead, as I am a usually too lazy to climb hills… But I do love walking along beaches, especially at low tide.
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Tidevandslandskab / Tidal Landscape (2006/2018) from ‘Nature hidden in plain sight’. Photograph © Birthe Havmøller
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Beaches are magic in-between-spaces, between the sea and dry land meet. At low tide the beach is a wide stretch of land, at high tide, it is narrow or is totally submerged underwater. I see the landscape, any landscape, as a kind of external memory I can always connect with, or resume contact with. As I work with my camera, I am turning the viewfinder into a “magical mirror” in which I look for reflections of my inner landscapes. I make my fine art prints when I feel that I created images of spaces that reflect ‘something’ which resonates with my soul. When engaging with my photography you must read the works like poems.


Træet / The Tree (1989/2018) from ‘Nature hidden in plain sight’. Photograph © Birthe Havmøller
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In 2003 I launched my art blog Feminine Moments, an international resource site and art blog about fine art made by lesbian, bisexual and queer feminist artists. Feminine Moments is still running and it has turned into an amazing queer feminist art visibility project…

… At the moment I am working on Naturen som vi ser eller overser… / Nature hidden in plain sight which is a large body of b/w images made in rural areas in Denmark and England and a few smaller series, Mine små venner / My small friends, a portfolio with colour portraits of insects, is one such project. Nature hidden in plain sight is a “slow photography” art project with works from 1989 up until today. None of the works, in their present shape of intimate physical A4 fine art (archival quality Epson) prints, have been shown anywhere yet. It is very much a work in progress with most of the artworks still having provisional titles. I have also not yet settled on how I want to list and present the images in clusters. My motifs are, for example, the boat (vesica piscis), the circle (sacred place), the tree (of life) and the wood as a romantic, enchanted place with flowers or frost crystals.
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Åen / The Stream, a visual poem from the Land Art series (1999). Photograph © Birthe Havmøller
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And she has a new digital artist’s flip book, I walk in circles around my home. It is a “corona publication” with photos (from 2010-2020) taken as I walked about in my home, around my block, in the village or go on a somewhat longer walk in the nearest wood.
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Roy DeCarava: Jazz Photographs

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Laurie says:

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Billie Holiday

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I have always admired the photography of Roy DeCarava . His use of light is stunning and is best seen for it’s subtlety in the originals. But the photos below give a sense of one area of his remarkable work.
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Dancers

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Quotes are from VF (The Vinyl Factory)

Roy DeCarava was a jazz photographer, artist and Harlem local who captured everyday life in the Manhattan district like no-one else. Through a sparing, striking use of natural light, DeCarava’s exploration of the aesthetics of blackness was revolutionary, developing a visual mode that challenged the era’s cultural assumptions around race, poverty and artistic representation.
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Nat King Cole
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[I love what he said about his relationship to light.] I don’t try to alter light, which is why I never use flash,” said DeCarava. “I hate it with a passion because it obliterates what I saw. When I fall in love with something I see, when something interests me, it interests me in the context of the light that it’s in. So why should I try to change the light and what I see, to get this ‘perfect’ information-laden print? I don’t care about that. The reason why my photographs are so dark is that I take photographs everywhere, light or not. If I can see it, I will take a picture of it. If it’s dark, so be it. I take things as I find them because that’s the way I am and that’s the way I like them. When I went to a jazz club it wasn’t lit up like a T.V. studio. It was dark. I accept that.
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Coltrane

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DeCarava’s contextualizing of his subjects adds a depth of meaning rarely found in jazz photography, and it gives his work a power which continues to inspire photographers and film-makers today. But it also fosters the false notion that DeCarava was, first and foremost, a documentary photographer with a social-realist aesthetic. In fact, he deserves to be judged as – and considered himself to be – an art photographer. He rejected the contemporary idea that black people in America were unpromising subjects for art, suited to be portrayed only as caricatures or social problems, and that their depiction should serve either as a lesson in history or an instrument of social change.

I’m not a documentarian, I never have been,” said DeCarava in a 1990 interview. “I think of myself as poetic, a maker of visions, dreams – and a few nightmares.
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His book of the jazz images is aptly titled “The Sound I Saw”.
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See more of his work here.