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Vemödalen and the importance of being original

I learned a new word today. Vemödalen. You know it? I laughed hearing it since I have been working for a while on a post on questioning the necessity of taking photos of new objects and find that new angle, all the time. Before I learned the new word I couldn´t really put my finger on it but then I tripped over this word when listedning to a Swedish pod ”Fotosidans podradio” where they spoke about the phenomena, and it struck me, p e o p l e   a c t u a l l y  f e e l  t h i s  w a y.

The word comes from a blog, The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows (love the name by the way) who was inspired by the Swedish word vemod (melancholy), added dots over the o to make it more Swedish and added a Swedish IKEA furniture to the end to create it.

From the blog:


n. the frustration of photographing something amazing when thousands of identical photos already exist—the same sunset, the same waterfall, the same curve of a hip, the same closeup of an eye—which can turn a unique subject into something hollow and pulpy and cheap, like a mass-produced piece of furniture you happen to have assembled yourself. ”

One question that seems to pop up on a regular basis when discussing travels and photography is also why I started reflecting on the subject, ”Why take photos of that, so many have already photographed”. As if there could be anything wrong with photographing the same building as someone else photographed just because it is photographed before ?! The question itself got me thinking why it is so important for people to ”be original” and be the only one that have done something or created something. The word vemödalen somewhat presupposes that people feel the importance of being original, why else feel melancholy about being un-original?

Do you ever feel melancholy about the fact that you are shooting something for the 100th time? And do you feel sad that someone else shot if for 100 times before you?

The strange thing about the question on why shoot something that someone already shot is that it has so many counter arguments.

1. This statement in itself argues that you 100% of the time must be innovative. I think everyone realizes that one does not need to be.

2. Most famous photographers today have photos of something that someone else already have photographed. They always seem to find their innovative angle, composition or editing and keeps being insanely famous for the originality.

3. The whole world is more or less mapped in photos and visits.

4. If all the above statement is true – you too need to realise that you do not need to be innovative.

Sometimes I get irritated. Who decides what is innovative and who came up with that one can not shoot someone already photographed? It will be quite difficult then.

One of the world’s most portrayed objects would surely be the Eiffel Tower. When I was in Paris last fall I of course shot this tower. It is my favorite object int he world, basically. But, to be innovative, I should of course shot something else in Paris instead, or should I? Isn´t is my own eye that is the innovative part, to see the image of the eiffeltower through me lens?

Why is it so important to be innovative in photography do you think? The answer is, it is not. It’s just amateurs or beginners who thinks so. I want to meet the professional photographer who think ”no, I stop to take pictures now, everyone has already photographed everything.” Maybe there are one or two who have given up, where the creativity was flushed down with the morning coffee in the sink. Maybe then, when living the everyday life, getting drained you feel these way, otherwise, Vemödalen hopefully is just temporary and people realise that it is their own eye that matters, their vision and their one of a kind photo.



The effieltower, from my point of view.





  1. BRAVO ! [M-R applauds enthusiastically]
    A totally on-the-ball post, Katarina ! – I support you entirely, from the tyro’s point of view. 🙂

  2. Jag har aldrig hört talas om det ordet. Trodde först att det var ett ortsnamn när jag läste rubriken och fick inte riktigt ihop det med resten av rubriken. Men där ser man, det var ju något helt annat.

    Jag måste erkänna att jag bryr mig inte speciellt mycket om att vara originell. Alltså, jag älskar att försöka ta lite annorlunda bilder av klassiska bilder, bara för att det är roligt att utmana mig själv. Jag brukar också ta de klassiska bilderna som jag sett att andra har tagit för det är lika roligt det. Idag så handlar ju mycket om redigeringen och det är ju också där man kan få bilderna att bli lite annorlunda om det nu är det man är ute efter.
    Jag tycker att så länge man själv känner sig nöjd med det man fotograferar så är allt bra 🙂

    • Precis. Egentligen var ju podden rätt lång i ämnet om vemödalen och det var delade åsikter bland de som pratade också. Kommer inte exakt ihåg vilka som gästade men det är ju fotografer och sånna som representerar till svenska fotografer förbundet m.m. De har mycket intelligent att säga om läget tycker jag. Men jag tycker generellt när man får frågan attj ag blir lite förnärmad. Som att man inte kan hålla på med fotografi för att så många andra gör det och så många andra redan tagit foton av samma sak etc. Så känner inte jag. Vad bloggade du om innan du började blogga om resor?

      • Får ta och lyssna på den nåndag. Har du en länk till den? 🙂

        Jo, de har säkert mycket intelligent att säga. Men jag tycker (utan att ha hört podden) att såna personer ofta kan vara låsta vid sitt sätt att tänka, vilket inte alltid kanske är så bra. Jag har aldrig fått den frågan faktiskt, men förstår att du känner så.

        Om allt typ. Hade ingen speciell inriktning, utan det var om allt och ingenting. Men livsstilblogg kan man väl kalla det.

  3. My photography skills are so basic, I wouldn’t even consider myself an amateur … but this post really resonated with me. Thanks for expressing what I feel sometimes when I question what’s the point of the photo I’m trying to take.
    In the end, it’s really just because it makes me happy. I think sometimes we forget that basic purpose of doing things.

    By the way … Paris is my favourite place in the world and I could NEVER get enough of the Eiffel Tower 🙂


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