January 23, 2014
“How can you miss the light without the dark?” As a photographer & graphic designer, Rebecca Hawkes is always looking for the perfect light and found it in the changing seasons of the Norwegian capital.
I fell in love with the man not the city. This modern fairytale that has been retold to me again and again from expats: the story of a charming Viking, and maybe the lure of cinnamon buns, stealing their hearts and then moving to Oslo. Maybe it is tradition that sees Vikings lure unsuspecting nationalities to their shores, however on arrival why do we stay? I think that this intriguing city, Oslo, may have something to do with it.
As I sit here writing, ‘freezing rain’ is falling from the sky after weeks of the sun barely bothering to raise its beams above the horizon. This view does not fill me with glee, however nature and the seasons impact every aspect of Norwegian life. It is one of the attributes that signify that you are in Oslo rather than any other Scandinavian city, nature is everywhere and everyone is prepared for it.
Moving from grey London where a monochrome landscape is readily abundant, with cars, busses and taxis stopping for no-one, smog still discolouring bricks long after the Industrial Revolution, and where a change of seasons means slightly less rain – Norway is its dramatic counterpart.
How can you miss the light without the dark? Oslo answers this simply with the change of winter to summer, I can tell the time by the sky, or lose track of the time in summer as the days drift on. Come winter, daylight become precious and Oslo reveals itself in the cold, as thicker layers are mounted upon wool underwear, wood fires are light, and trees become covered with a layer of snowflakes. The days are shorter meaning time to retract from work, and instead hibernate indoors with loved ones or spend time with friends and colleagues at a julebord (Christmas meal). It is the time of year when my favourite Norwegian word can be used at a moments notice, ‘hyggelig’ (cosy, lovely). The Winter Solstice comes and goes and I celebrate every extra minute of sunlight thereafter. Before you know it, the midnight sun of Scandinavia appears again, allowing for picnics in the forests, talking all night until the sun goes down, and taking a dip in the lake only a bus ride away.
The changing season affects my work everyday. Working as a freelance photographer and graphic designer, I am in love with natural light. It is the most flattering light for skin tones and clothing. It affects tone and mood and critically can change the entire aesthetic of a photograph. This is something I choose to embrace throughout my work. I wish to capture the spirit of the moment. On a clear day the sky in Oslo tints the light a pale blue, it is the most beautiful light a photographer could ask for.
Yes Oslo may have its bad days, but season after season the city lives for the moment, cherishing these changes. Even now the ‘freezing rain’ has turned to falling snowflakes coming down in a flurry of white feathers tumbling to the ground, graceful and silent.