Three photographers document Copenhagen over a long-weekend

Copenhagen is one of the most liveable cities in the world; when it comes to weekend breaks, the capital is already high on peoples’ lists. Visit Copenhagen, the city’s official tourist board, however wanted to shine new light on the Danish capital. To do so Studio 1854 created a photography-led campaign that, in showing an alternative side to the city, would make the capital stand out among competing European cities.

The project 

Photographers Marco Kesseler, Peter Holliday and Laura Stevens were tasked with exploring and documenting Copenhagen over one long weekend. With the aim to create new bodies of work that stand out from generic travel photography, the creatives were encouraged to avoid icons and landmarks and instead explore the city’s lesser-known sights. In not dictating exact locations to photograph, or themes to explore, the three photographers were granted as much creative freedom as possible. Anya Lawrence, a writer from Studio 1854, shadowed the photographers; accompanying editorial and interviews shed light on the stories behind the final photographs.

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© Peter Holliday

© Laura Stevens

“You hear the local motocross club before you see it. At its entrance, weekend mechanics tinker with mud-splattered bikes while riders take a moment’s solace away from the course. It is here that photographer Marco Kesseler meets Mathilde, one of Denmark’s few female motocross riders. Mathilde is now 13-years-old and began riding off-road motorbikes at the age of four. Her father Joe has broken 18 bones as a result of the sport yet, accompanying Mathilde to all of her events, remains one of her most loyal supporters. This is their third motocross event of the week.”

© Marco Kesseler

© Peter Holliday

The Carlsberg Fault Line | Marco Kesseler 

The Carlsberg Fault Line is a concealed tectonic formation that runs across Copenhagen. A stranger to the city, Marco Kesseler used the line as a narrative to discover and photograph the everyday idiosyncrasies that give the capital its charm. There was no casting call or pre-arranged meetings; instead the portraits that feature in The Carlsberg Fault Line show Copenhagen at its most authentic.

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Edgelands | Peter Holliday

Edgelands explores the human ideals and aspirations latent within Copenhagen’s
peripheral spaces. Through a combination of portraits and landscapes, shot within the city’s lesser-known spaces, the series presents an alternative portrait of Copenhagen. “A place where ambition can be realised and where the collective vision of humanity reaches a state of cohesion.” 

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“Copenhagen is one of the few cities in the world where you can build and test rockets in a car park.” Peter Holliday is referring to a stretch of tarmac situated on the northern tip of Amager East, an island neighbourhood just a short bike ride away from central Copenhagen. This vast industrial area is the perfect setting for artists’ studios; its close proximity to the water makes it an ideal place to launch rockets.

© Laura Stevens


To the Water | Laura Stevens

Intrigued by the ways in which Copenhagen is interlaced with natural beauty, Laura Stevens explored the presence of water in the capital. “It is about how nature affects the mentality of people living in the city,” she says. Interacting with water in Copenhagen is effortless: no matter which way you turn, water is never further than a 15 minute walk away. “In Copenhagen, people are able to disconnect from the stress and busyness of everyday life and find peace and solitude within the environment,” says Stevens. “Being close to water allows for that.”

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Shortlisted photographers 

A competition calling from entries was launched on British Journal of Photography’s website. More than 20,000 photographers, from all over the world, engaged with the competition. The winners were chosen by a panel of industry experts. 

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© Chris Hoare

© Maria Jou Sol

© Anaïs Boileau

© Marco Kesseler

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© Matt Martin

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© Michael Patrick Martin

Photographer journals 

Each photographer was provided with a journal to keep while in Copenhagen. Asked to use their journal freely to record their observations of, and experience in, Copenhagen, the photographers were candid in their reflections. 

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“Got stopped by Imad and his son who asked me for a portrait and tried to pay me with Capri Sun! Reminiscing about medium format film from when he grew up in Palestine. No email address, need to post portrait”

Marco Kesseler

“Perhaps that makes Copenhagen more of a utopia than an apocalypse though? A place where ambition can be realised and where the collective vision of humanity reaches a state of cohesion – a balance between mankind and nature.”

Peter Holliday

“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

Campaign Results

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