Nostalgic – the idea of what could have been

My first thought when I read the nostalgia challenge was that this one is written for me.

“As an assignment, create a photographic work that consciously wrestles with the concept of ‘nostalgia’ and photography’s unique relationship to it.”

My second thought was, I don’t even have to do this one because I’ve already done it. I do it all the time; I’m constantly wrestling with the concept of nostalgia. So many of my pictures with the troopers are connected to the theme of nostalgia. Or they are about being a parent exploring the world through the eyes of a child. Or they are about being a child longing for a parents attention or love. Suddenly I started to overthink myself: is this really the concept I wrestle with? I’m not sure…

nostalgia I
nostalgia I by K.Alexanderson
nostalgia II by K.Alexanderson
nostalgia II by K.Alexanderson
nostalgia III by K.Alexanderson
nostalgia II by K.Alexanderson

Anyway, I started this challenge by doing a series of pictures looking back on motive, which I’ve done before. I though this series would be my response to this challenge, but when I looked the series through, I thought it lacked a meta-aspect, as well as the wrestling part. So I decided to go in a different direction.

nostalgia II (alternative version) by K.Alexanderson
nostalgia II (alternative version) by K.Alexanderson

The challenge is to create a photographic work that wrestles with the concept of nostalgia, and since my first try missed the target, I decide to do a fan-fiction picture depicting a tender moment between the dark lord and what could be his child. A nostalgic moment that wrestles with the idea of what could have been… or not.

The Dark Lord - what could have been
The Dark Lord -what could have been…

Anyway, this challenge was fun. I really loved doing it and I’m so impressed with Shelly’s great result!



  1. Kristina,

    Im wondering if you’re too close to this topic? You seem to have dismissed it rather quickly with a simple “I already do this everyday.” But do you really? I see your troopers interacting, I see the children telling secrets, I see a son standing behind his protective father – but I question how these are nostalgic, rather than recent images. Why do you choose to wash out the colors? Why are you shooting in a Hi-Key style? What do these symbolize to you? Also if the last image was to represent a possible father / son embrace, why choose a trooper? Im a little fuzzy on my Star Wars world, but aren’t they all clones of Boba Fett? Gina, I cold be wrong, I’m no expert on star wars lore. But even if they aren’t, shouldn’t Darth be embracing either Leia or Luke? A shot of Darth and an adult Leila walking into the sun, shot in your distinctive style, would certainly have spoken volumes to me about a future that never existed. The images are undoubtedly beautifully created, but I want to know more about your fascination with nostalgia and how it relates to your images. 🙂

    • I realize that you and I are talking about different work, I’m referring to the “family-pictures” that I have done during the period of 2011- 2016, this is a body of work (not really curated) about a father and a child/children, “a family”. Most of the scenes in that body of work, “a family”, is images with a nostalgic touch. And that is what I’m referring to. They often comes from moments or memories from my own childhood, me walking away with my father in the afternoon, me running towards a fathers that is coming back from work. Me learning stuff with my father, me hiding from the world in the shadow of a parents protection and love, or me looking at the photographer while my father is occupied with more important issues, talking with some adult. Most of my work with “a family” are pictures of a nostalgic or imagery childhood. Many of those images are my versions of my parents pictures of myself as a child. I have use my camera to recreate a nostalgic-version of a childhood and a parenthood.

      My recent work has been more about my inner landscape and the feeling of being lost, or just abandoned in the world, all alone, with out any comfort, or place where I belong. The only thing that comes back is teddy to give some support if a plastic bear have the ability to give comfort. I’m not sure. I have tried to work in themes about belonging and being together … but I’m not sure the connect.

      I’m no expert with Star Wars, but in the first movie from 1977 there is a scen where Luke is dressed as a Stormtrooper, so the idea is easy and really created from the fiction of the movie – what could have been. What if Darth had come… a father and son moment could have appeared.

      Why do I shoot High Key – and call it nostalgic? Because for me over-exposed pictures tell a story about the photographer as well… young (without knowledge about the camera and how to expose/develop the frame correct (As you know I don’t believe there is a correct way to expose a picture, there is so many and all you have to do is decide how you want the picture to be exposed)). But many people believe that there is a correct way, so you have to ask yourself did she know how to expose or not? Or has the images been mistreated and gotten destroyed by the sun, the sun burns the paper and the motive get all this and washed out…

      I hope this will give you some direction, and no I don’t think I’m to close to the subject just the opposite I’ to far from it because I don’t wrestles with the concept of nostalgica – there is no conflict for me, because I think I’m lost in a cliche of nostalgic motives. In a good day I would say that I wrestles the concept by using war-machines (stormtroopers) to portray “perfect” childhood, or a ordinary life.

      Thanks for asking. /Kristina

      • Wow – thanks for the awesome response! This really helps clarify so much. I was confused – I thought the parent child photos were of you and your kids, it make more sense that they are of you and your own father. Thank you for also explaining your position on high-key. I thought that might be where you were coming from, but its nice to have that confirmed. Thank you again for taking the time to reply. 🙂

        ps – I don’t think there is a correct way to expose an image. It is one of the many deliberate choices each artist has to make to help communicate the idea behind their photos.

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