Photography has the magical ability to show us the surface of things in minute detail, but in the hands of a photographer as talented as Erika Larsen it can reveal, not only objects seen by the eye, but feelings of the heart. While working on her four-year photography project among the Sámi, Erika chose to live as a beaga (housekeeper) for the reindeer herding family of Nils Peder and Ingrid Gaup while photographing near Kautokeino, Norway and Gällivare, Sweden. From that intimate vantage point, she was able to immerse herself in the culture, language, and land of the northern Sámi.
In her splendid coffee table book, Sámi – Walking with Reindeer, she combines striking color photographs illuminating the Sámi connections to their environment and each other with poetry exploring her own place within nature and the Sámi way of life. She speaks, both with photographs and words, of the connection of the present day Sámi with their rich ancestral heritage through nature and the land.
In her photographs, Erika doesn’t flinch at the often bloody realities of the reindeer herding life, while finding a majestic beauty in the moving herds. Her approach to the people is equally honest but suffused with a palpable tenderness. Although coming as an outsider, she looks to the Sámi as teachers, “Through the Sámi I hope to better understand our role as stewards of the earth. It is inevitable when spending time in a more nature-based culture that one must recognize the cycles of life and death and therefore begin to evaluate man’s role within this circle.”