A talk with … Emilie Dalum
Emilie Dalum from Denmark (now living in Iceland) has participated in STEYPA from the very beginning. Her very personal approach offers a deeper view into the more private aspects of living in Iceland.
When did you first become interested in photography?
I started to photograph in the summer 2012. Before that time, photography never really interested me.
How did your photography develop over the years?
Without giving it any deeper thought, I simply went out and bought a semi-compact digital camera. But I needed a push to actually start using it, so shortly afterward I signed up for a 5-day workshop with the photographer Carolyn Drake. In 2014, I started a one-year program at Fatamorgana – The Danish School of Art Photography, where I developed my own photographic voice.
What is your relationship to Iceland?
Iceland has been my home base since 2012. I came here studying as an exchange student at the University of Iceland. Iceland fascinated me from the beginning and keeps on showing me new sides and surprises. Iceland somehow has a deep grip on me now.
How do you perceive Icelandic culture and nature?
I usually say that Iceland is a land of contrasts. Reykjavík has everything a capital should have; art, design, museums, concerts, restaurants, demonstrations, tourists, nightlife. Then you drive for just 20 minutes and are surrounded by pure nature. You go from one physical position to quite the opposite in no time at all. The tempo is fast-paced and changeable, and so is the behavior of the people. Icelanders are always busy and they think very creatively – and they are not afraid to act quickly on their ideas. Many Icelanders have more than one job. Maybe their mentality is a remnant from the ancient times where there wasn’t much time to reflect, but instead they had to take action to survive the hard conditions of life.
What is your favorite place in Iceland?
Þórsmörk and Djúpavík.
How can we see Iceland in your STEYPA project?
I was diagnosed with cancer in February 2016 and underwent 4 months of chemotherapy here in Iceland. I took pictures of my physical and emotional state during that period. Then I have often found rest and recharged my batteries in the comfort of nature and fresh air, which some of the pictures show. But being a cancer patient creates a very restricted lifestyle, with visits to the hospitals and medicine which you see as well.
What inspires you to take pictures?
Anger, frustrations, wonders, people, taboos, solitude, mysteries.
What role does photography play in your life?
Photographing enters my life in situations and time periods when I am so full of emotions and ideas that I can’t bear to keep them inside of me any longer. My camera is an extension of my hand, and I will always feel that I am first and foremost a human being rather than a photographer.
What working methods do you use?
I mainly use my Fuji X10 digital camera. I am not interested in technique and I prefer content over form. I photograph the people in my life, and I like to interact with my subjects by talking with them and spending time with them. As I see it, being a “photographer of people” consists of a mutual investment between the photographer and subject: I get their time and attention, and they get the recognition that comes with being photographed.
In your STEYPA profile, it says that you were recently diagnosed with cancer in the lymphatic system. How do you feel today? Were you able to win the fight against the cancer?
At this very moment I feel alright. I have one chemo treatment left, and I have recovered completely from the cancer. My physical condition hasn’t deteriorated at all; being young with cancer has its advantages, I think. I will even run a half marathon in August. Mentally, I feel exhausted and can’t wait to get my life back.
Mange tak, Emilie, for giving us a deeper view into your work – and private life. Get well, soon!
Emilie at STEYPA
Proofreading/Editing: Melinda Kumbalek