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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.





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