Boris Snauwaert aka Svartdal is a photographer from Belgium. His world looks a bit rustic, aloof, and intrigued. There are naked trees, rough grasslands, uneven beaches, and urban architectures among oddities. The characters in his photos are absorbed in an activity unknown to the viewer – but everything is serene and at equilibrium. His images are random sketches of a non-linear narrative. It will be interesting to see how his work evolves and changes paths in time to come. It has been published in a few print and online media and has been exhibited as well. Here’s a short conversation with him with a selection of images he provided:
Please tell us about yourself. Why do you use the name ‘Svartdal’ and what does it mean?
I live and work in Ghent, Belgium. I’ve been working in all kinds of professional settings. I’ve always combined my work as a photographer with other jobs (editorial work, teaching, project management …). I have a background in social sciences and I studied photography at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Ghent for a few years.
Svartdal is a moniker I use for my photographic portfolio at the moment. There’s no elaborate reason for that, though. I just love the sound of it (quite fond of all things Norwegian) and the associations it evokes. I guess I like the use of monikers. They create a free space in a way. You wear them as long as they fit you. Maybe it’s something I brought along from my days as a musician. In the popular music scene monikers are the standard. It’s only in specific genres, for specific occasions or in specific phases of their career that people use their personal name for their releases. I like how artists use different names for different releases, projects, periods. It opens up a web of associations and leaves behind a trail of links.
I’ve played in a band called Yuko for a while, and I’ve released a couple of albums under the moniker Haruki (yes, also a sucker for all things Japanese). I’ve always played with a mixture of acoustic instruments, electronics and field recordings. I guess – besides a general, unspecified underlying mood – in the latter is a direct link with my photography. I love to wander about and to grasp, whether it’s audio-visually or just mentally, what strikes / stirs me. Evidently, both media are in every other way completely different.
What is your statement as a photographer? It’s difficult to fit your work in a particular genre but it does have a fine-art and documentary style. What do you think about categorization of your work and how do you see your evolution as a photographer? What are your methods or critical approaches of shooting?
I’ve never been concerned about genres, neither in the photographic work of other photographers that I like neither in my own work. It all boils down to the image itself. Is it an image that intrigues me, fascinates me and that keeps doing so after looking at it for the 99th time or after a couple of years, or not? A good photo changes the way you look at things and places. And by this, unavoidably, the way you look at photography changes itself as well during the course of time.
When I started as a photographer I was fascinated by staged photography, especially by photography that staged people in landscapes. In my own work I only briefly experimented with this. I prefer to work in a more spontaneous way. I photograph people, places and situations that I stumble upon or that I go looking for, but always without directing.
Starting from the individual image, I like to play with combinations of images. Different juxtapositions bring out other aspects, different moods, and different narratives. Context is everything, but it’s very flexible, moldable and dynamic.
To keep doing what I’m doing and try to keep growing in what I do.
Say something to say to our readers or aspiring photographers:
Enjoy what you do. Don’t be a slave of it. There’s tons of photographs and photographers out there, which can be quite overwhelming or even suffocating for a photographer. I think it’s healthy to stop looking at photography for a while (be it days, months or years) and focus on just being somewhere.