Behind the scenes of a travel commission

15 June 2018


Postcards from Copenhagen invited three photographers – Marco KesselerPeter Holliday and Laura Stevens – to travel to Copenhagen over a long weekend and create a new body of work inspired by the Danish capital. Following the publication of the series on British Journal of Photography’s website, Anya Lawrence looked back on what went on behind the scenes of the commission.

Marco Kesseler’s journal

Kesseler, Holliday and Stevens travelled to Copenhagen with BJP in early-April. Tasked with creating an alternative portrait of the city, the three photographers purposely avoided tourist destinations and instead explored the lesser-known sides of the capital. The photographers were given the freedom to explore Copenhagen as they saw fit; coming together in the mornings for group reviews, exploring the city independently during day, and often meeting in the evenings to share their experiences.

Peter Holliday’s journal

Peter Holliday’s journal

What if your theme does not naturally evolve? What if you fail to come across compelling subject matters or locations?

While the photographers were each set the same brief, the approaches and resulting bodies of work differ greatly. Holliday examined the human ideals and aspirations latent within Copenhagen’s peripheral spaces, Kesseler followed a concealed tectonic formation that runs across the capital, and Stevens explored the city’s unique relationship with water

The difference in approach extended beyond subject matters of the work. For Holliday, it was his fourth time in Copenhagen; Kesseler and Stevens had never been before. While Kesseler and Stevens relied upon chance encounters, Holliday scheduled meetings ahead of the trip. While Stevens’ photographs are exclusively shot on a digital camera, Holliday mostly used film. Kesseler worked between the two.

Marco Kesseler’s journal

Day four: “I get on a bike. I spend the afternoon in the nature reserve. Everything is flat. The wind blows. I fall off the bike, a lot.”

Laura Stevens’ journal

Laura Stevens’ journal

Each photographer kept a journal while in Copenhagen, recording their observations of the city along with their day to day experience of the commission. The pressure of creating a body of work in just four days meant that the weather was far from the photographers’ only challenge. Drawing on interviews and journal entries, we share an insight into each photographer’s working process.

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