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The Story Behind That Picture:
"Photographing your own town"

By: Thorsten Overgaard

I have a great story I usually tell to illustrate that one should remember to photograph every day and everywhere.

I had a friend attending one of my photo seminars, who told how he would go hiking or something exiting, and then he would photograph. In his daily life he didn't photograph, which is rather common for many people.

Now, if it wasn't for the fact that he works at NASA and thus hangs around weightless and works with designing the most science fiction robots of all sizes, it would make perfectly sense.

But for many people, everyday life seems so just everyday, so why capture it for the record?


Café Drudenfuss in Aarhus, Denmark
Café Drudenfuss in Aarhus, Denmark


When I did the April in Paris workshop, only one person was from Paris. And he stated his doubt like this: "I wasn't sure I wanted to do the workshop in Paris. There is nothing to photograph in Paris," and of course he is right. But also very wrong, which - when stated about Paris - makes the point so much clearer.

The thing is that the street corner you pass by every day changes over time, which means that the image you took today will be historic in just ten years when people dress completely different and you will look back at the guy with the iPad and the headset for the telephone as something from the last century.


Café Drudenfuss in Aarhus, Denmark
Café Drudenfuss in Aarhus, Denmark


Remember the brick telephone of the 80s? Back then that too was everyday life. So think time into you photography, and if for nothing else, do it for your grandkids and the local museum. Shoot that ugly concrete building in front of you, because one day it will be gone.

You can find artistic motives as well, if you start using your camera everyday you will start seeing the changes in light, the rhythm of people moving about making an image, and all those sorts of things you thought was only happening in other places.


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And speaking of other places, for them living in those other places, your world looks completely different. I can tell, because when one of my extension course students send in assignments from Beijing, his ordinary everyday life test shots are so much more interesting than what I see everyday. So I guess he would be just as astonished to see my everyday as I am to see his.

Bring a camera, and use it, and remember to tag your photos with keywords such as date, name of street, name of shops and cafés, etc. so they make sense and can be found.

And that was today’s postcard from my very own everyday town, Aarhus, Denmark (which means "city by the river mouth")


People passing the street in front of the trainstation in Aarhus, Denmark
People passing the street in front of the train station in Aarhus, Denmark


– Thorsten Overgaard, October 27, 2010
Updated December 13, 2013


Outside: The view from the stairs of the bakery as I left with fresh bread. The ugly building to the right was build after the Germans bombed the street during WWII. It is also the historic first store of the now largest Danish supermarket chain which today sits on 45% of the market. I've known for eons, but I guess that is all new to you.





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Thorsten von Overgaard is a Danish-American multiple award-winning photographer, known for his writings about photography and Leica cameras. He travels to more than 25 countries a year, photographing and teaching workshops to photographers. Some photos are available as signed editions via galleries or online. For specific photography needs, contact Thorsten Overgaard via email.

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