Becoming a parent for the first time is a life-changing experience for most. The arrival of a child turns your whole existence upside down. Priorities change, the vision of your future changes, as does the perspective of your own story and childhood.
Photographer Bjørnar Øvrebø, like many others, grew up along the Alna river in Oslo. When he became a father, he felt a calling to return to the river where he spent so much time growing up. He wanted to experience the river through the eyes of a parent. Throughout his baby’s first year, he kept returning to the river, documenting how the scenery changed throughout the seasons. Øvrebø decided to gather these photos in book form and invited poet Torgeir Rebolledo Pedersen to write a poem to accompany the images.
The book, through the photographs and the poem “Alna”, captures the contrast between the everlasting and the perishable, between generations and the moment, slow changes and sudden events.
The poem is placed in its entirety on the book cover, inviting the readers into Øvrebø’s mindset, allowing them to experience the Alna river through his newfound perspective. The river’s course is embossed on the same cover and affects the typography as it runs through the letters of the poem.
This is a metaphor for the changes that becoming a parent brings – the changed routines, the playfulness, and the unpredictability.
The format of the book matches the original large format film of the pictures to avoid cropping.
Photos of light reflections in the river are printed in white varnish to illustrate the fleeting moment of the birth and the passing of the river’s water.
When designing the book, it was important for us to capture the intimacy between the photographer, his memories, the river and its landmarks. In order to achieve this, we needed to isolate this uninterrupted intimacy from the standard elements of a book – the cover, the body text and so on.
As a result, the book consists exclusively of photos of the river, only separated by a few spreads marking the transition of the different seasons. These spreads are photos of light reflections in the river printed in white varnish to illustrate the fleeting moment of the birth and the passing of the river’s water.
The soft white cover is protected by a black sleeve with the river printed in varnish, representing how Øvrebø’s view of Alna has changed from being a polluted river to something beautiful, delicate, and innocent.