What is the current state of photography in the Nordic countries? What conditions, economic, political, technical or material, are governing the production of photographic images? Is there such a thing as a Nordic expression? And if it exists, what defines it? These are the questions that we, as the editors of
the photo magazines Filter (Denmark), Photo Raw (Finland) and the journal for lens-based art Objektiv (Norway), asked ourselves when we met during a
workshop in Riga in 2011, hosted by the Latvian online photo magazine FK.

In order to examine these questions further and to exchange our knowledge on the photographic scenes of our home countries, we decided to organise a seminar
on contemporary Nordic photography during the Copenhagen Photo Festival 2012. We invited photographers, critics and researchers from Finland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, and Denmark to present their views and thoughts, centred around four tendencies that have governed the photographic production of recent years: private and autobiographical photography, hybrids between photography and other media, the return to analogue techniques, and the immense changes that the genre of documentary is undergoing, with its practitioners questioning and pushing the borders of how it is defined.

The special issue of Filter, Photo Raw and Objektiv that you are holding in your hand is the outcome of this seminar and of our continued conversations about Nordic photography. In the round-table discussion closing the seminar, the participants provided us with many new insights and made us aware of at least two very important missing tendencies: largescale landscape photography and what we have labelled ‘Everyday Fantasy’, dream-like scenarios, primarily produced by female photographers. We are pleased to include an essay examining the latter by Anna-Kaisa Rastenberger, curator of the Finnish Museum of Photography, while examples of the former are presented throughout the book.

As you will see, not all tendencies within contemporary Nordic photography are included here, and many of the photographers grouped under certain chapters
could easily have been presented within others. The works of Mikkel McAlinden and Trine Søndergaard, for example, are presented in the documentary chapter, even though they are most often shown in a gallery context, and Norwegian photographer Marie Sjøvold’s work would have fitted into all the categories. But perhaps this is in itself an insight into the current state of the medium: today’s photographers don’t limit themselves to a specific topic or genre, nor even to photography itself, but experiment with different components around it. However, we hope that by grouping them within these different tendencies, sometimes even placing them under unexpected headings, we may be able to throw light on their work and widen the understanding of it.

To give a taste of the institutional framework promoting photography in the Nordic countries, we have interviewed significant people on the Nordic photo scene. Though they all are reluctant to speak of a specific Nordic expression, since the photography produced in the Nordic countries interacts with international trends, some factors do seem to stand out, the need to provide better training, especially in art photography, is identified as an issue, as well as establishing new forums for a critical conversation about the photographic medium.

To get an outside view on our selection of Nordic photographers, we have also invited the legendary picture editor Kathy Ryan from the New York Times Magazine to contribute her thoughts. For her: “the majority of the photographers portray the people and landscape they know. Out of that they make dreamscapes of things related to them emotionally.”

For the past two years, we have worked in our spare time on this project, bringing the different approaches to photography of our magazines together. While
Objektiv focuses on contemporary lens-based art, and Filter provides a culture-historical approach to the photographic medium at large, Photo Raw zooms in
on documentary photography, providing a platform for extensive photo essays. We hope that this publication, which unites these different perspectives on
the medium, will inspire many new discussions and reflections on Nordic photography.

Camilla Kragelund, editor-in-chief, Filter
Hannamari Shakya, editor-in-chief, Photo Raw
Nina Strand, editor-in-chief, Objektiv