Let me tell you a bit about how I work. Very early on I decided to look at time and think about time through my camera using the first lines of T. S. Eliot’s poem Four Quartets.

”Time present and time past
Are both perhaps present in time future
And time future contained in time past
If all time is eternally present……….
……… what might have been and what has been.
Point to an end, which is always present.”

All my pictures are analogue photographic prints made by me in the old fashioned way in my phot lab. (Except for the extra-large ones which are digital fine art prints.)

This is the way I approach making my pictures.

First comes the need to create. The desire to tell you something. A sort of theme which begins to take form.

Then comes research, reading stuff, going out and finding places and special people that feel like they, in themselves, express something to do with that which is beginning take form. Later some of these places and people who will give gestalt to the poetic picture language I am seeking.

When I start working with my camera, I do it with total concentration ad restricted to certain planned periods of time.

I use a mechanical still picture camera and work in my photo lab developing my own negatives. Then I print and develop the pictures. What I do in the darkroom is  ”marrying together” the pictures my intuition tells me somehow belong to one another.

Here’s an example –


First a contact print of the negatives of film roll of grass waving in the wind. And, on the same roll, pictures of a window in a ruined building at an abandoned iron mine.

I study the contact print’s pictures with a magnifying glass and the corresponding negatives on a light board. I don’t really “analyse” them, but rather trust my intuition, my instincts and my love of experimentation.

Up to this point it’s all, in a sense, just preparation. Now the real work starts, hours and hours in the dark room, trying out things. I have to be very patient, persistent, use all my reserves of perseverance.

In this example, I first one of the pictures of the window in the enlarger and exposed it on the print. I took out that negative and put one of the grass negatives in the enlarger and expose it on the same print. Then I develop the resulting double print, using a warm tone developer.

I don’t give up if it looks terrible, but try again and again, until suddenly I make a breakthrough and get close to what I knew was there – the beginning of the new picture. Then I try to make it better. On the way to the finished new picture, I often have to make many, many trials. It might take me more than a week, working all day, every day.

(Technical note – I use Ilford warm tone paper with silver gelatine emulsion on fibre paper.)

Intuition, intuition, intuition
Instinct, instinct, instinct
Perseverance, perseverance, perseverance
Playfulness, playfulness, playfulness
No fear of failure, no fear, no failure
The desire to tell, the pleasure of telling, the pleasure

Agneta Ekman, 2016-06-26