This Photographer Shows Us the Fine Line Between Man and Mountain

It’s been while since we caught up with Norwegian photographer Bjørg-Elise Tuppen, master of meditative landscape photography. Although never far from her trusty camera and a dramatic scene, she’s got a side to her work that is more explicitly personal. A master of natural landforms, she also turns her hands to the human landscape in a less numerous but equally powerful selection of self-portraits.

She had a ghost within
Hauntingly touching her
From the inside
Telling tales
Of lost kisses
And unloved
And nights

She’s a photographer clearly enchanted – aren’t we all? – by the spare and evocative landscape of her homeland, Norway. Her work is unfailingly mystical, presenting mountains and rolling valleys on a scale both majestic and somehow intimate. Her portraiture is in the same vein, with floods of natural light and ethereal swathes of fabric falling from windows and draped over ambiguous facial expressions.

Creativity is a personality-defining trait for Bjørg-Elise, and has been ever since she was a child. It’s one of the reasons we can’t get enough of her work at THE PLUS. We touched base to see what she thought about her portrait series.

You put your hand
On the small
Of my back

My forehead rested
On your shoulder

The wind blew
The birds flew

But it was just
Me and you

THE PLUS: Your photography is very contemplative – are you a thoughtful person?
Bjørg-Elise Tuppen:
Yes, I would say that I am. I like to connote my feelings and impressions through my work. For me it is not important to replicate the nature around me, but rather to express the feelings it imposes in me.

TP: Tell us about your photos.
Apart from landscape photography I mainly make self-portraits, often accompanied with a poem. They spring out of a desire to connote a mood or emotion. It is not necessarily a personal feeling; I don’t really see myself in these pictures, more a vessel to tell the story I have.

If you are a ghost
Then I am one too
Haunted to death
By the idea
Of you

TP: What inspired this particular shot?
I often try to connote flowing and dreamy moods in my works. This was a way to archive it. The subject (me) is separated from the real world (I have draped chiffon over my face) and thus connotes something from within.

TP: What inspired you to turn from landscapes to portraiture?
It comes from a desire to express a feeling. Sometimes it starts with a poem or words; other times the words spring from the picture. I know how to express that feeling through my posture and expression. So the picture is not of me, but rather the story or mood I’m trying to express.

This emptiness I have inside me
I think it’s full of memories
That want to exist

TP: Do you see similarities between facial and natural landscapes?
I connote the same dreamy, elusive qualities through my portraits as I do in my landscape photography. Sometimes it’s dark, other times it is ethereal and dreamy.

TP: Do you use different equipment for this work?
Yes, I use a tripod, lamps and a remote shutter releaser.

TP: Do you think you might expand into other areas in future?
At the moment I am working on paintings and drawings for an upcoming exhibition. I also love to sculpt.

In the garden of
Every seed
Is a forest
That wants
To be

She heard
Of unlived moments
In between memories
That longed to be

That night
I dreamt in plural
You were everywhere