Pictures from above

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Our photographer Lasse Tur has spent more than 6,000 thousand hours of air time taking pictures of cities, towns, landscapes and sceneries for three decades. He has authored and published more than 20 coffee table books with exciting photographs – and much more to come.

Oslo seen from above, Photo: Lasse Tur
Oslo seen from above, Photo: Lasse Tur

Originally educated in agriculture, but with a father as a photographer and a mother who ran the print shop he was destined to become a photographer. Even as a child he jumped between the wet paper copies drying on the floor at home, jumping from one spot to the other. Throughout his childhood and schooling, he worked for his father at the photo lab.

170314_lasse-turHis own photo career began by photographing children in kindergartens in southern Norway. Group pictures were extremely popular and Lasse produced about 40,000 portrait series a year, so no doubt he’s had many fantastic memories of smiling children. He could be in Stavanger one week and in Lillehammer the next. This was Lasse’s main business until 1988, when the world experienced the stock market crash. The competition was intensified when local photographers discovered a new source of income.

Lasse soon realized that he now needed to find a new niche. He chose to photograph participants in marathons all across the country. It was all about photographing objects in motion, and they had to be two persons to do the job.  This was still in the age of the analog world of photography, and both film rolls and batteries needed to be replaced periodically. Battery changes required a special technique; batteries needed a quick on the move change without hands being burned by the sizzling hot old ones. To get perfect pictures they had made a mark on the road, aimed at the runner with one eye while the other concentrated on the camera and lens. Photo series were usually 36 shots in less than 30 seconds.

This phase of analog photography lasted for almost four years. Postage and shipping costs for prints became so high that revenue was insufficient. More than 10,000 runners were photographed during this period.

Oslo seen from above. Photo: Lasse Tur
Oslo seen from above. Photo: Lasse Tur

Then Lasse Tur hit on the idea to take pictures of real estate from the air. He started in the neighborhood of Boeler Highland in the town of Skien, where rumors of aerial photographs of people’s homes were sold at the doors soon began to spread. After selling aerial shots of two residences, neighbors nearly lined up to place orders. It didn’t take long before the authorities heard about the aerial residential pictures and realized it would be a good thing to compare images before and after property construction applications.

Then the digital world of photography entered the scene and with it a new era for the photo industry. Working with chemicals and processing, as well as masking images and producing albums were now redundant. Additionally property borders of all buildings and residences needed coordinates, thus the first aerial photo assignment at Southern Nesoya Society . Later, test projects in Oslo, Hvaler and Fredrikstad. All aerial photos were equipped with coordinates to property borders.

Eventually larger survey firms took notice of property border demands and developed expensive three-dimensional systems which overloaded operating results. Costs increased and delivery was slow. Lasse could, however, with simpler systems deliver quickly and at favorable prices. This time he was not knocked out by competitors. Now he could deliver high resolution images on CDs.

Oslo seen from above. Photo: Lasse Tur
Oslo seen from above. Photo: Lasse Tur

Back then, however, the CD player was not as widespread. Communities and their city halls were simply not up to date with the technology. A large community Lasse once visited had only one CD player at their disposal in their city hall.

In 1999 came the innovative breakthrough which became known as “carpet photography”. Now could images of all housing properties in the community be used as documentation for construction projects. However, some politicians did not embrace the innovative idea, because it might conflict with their personal points of view.

In 2010 his first book “Oslo seen from above”, one of a series of aerial photo books brightened his career even further. New books were steadily being delivered fresh off the press with “Asker and Baerum seen from Above”, “Drammen seen from above”, “Laerdal seen from above” and “Aardal seen from above”, and several exciting new projects are underway. Many major newspapers also use Lasse’s aerial photos when they have articles about rural areas, for example, during the recent mass fire in Laerdal.

Lasse Tur is one of the Daily Scandinavians’ excellent photographers, and we look forward to present more of Lasse’s exciting images and work in coming feature stories.