When is a image finished? 

If someone were to ask me: When is an image finished? I wouldn’t be able to say when… This story or rather this attempt to make a picture that I’m calling “lovers” started with a clear idea, but I’m not sure if it will ever be finished. It all started with me thinking about the fairytale princess and which princesses could play a role in my project on reflections of a toy?

Childhood fairy tales

In my fairytale world Snow White has always held a special position. There are several things I like about Snow White – one is her bravery. I like how Snow White bravely fled through the woods, stood up against the huntsman, and without fear explored the house of the dwarves. Mostly I love the tension between the queen and the girl; how the queen hates Snow White because of her youth and beauty.

One of my favorite scenes is the when the dwarves build a glass coffin around her because she looks likes she’s still breathing; how the dwarves watch her grave day and night. As a child I thought the dwarves watched Snow White because of her beauty. But now that I think of it, I believe it’s more out of guilt and some sort of obligation. I recognize myself in this act, because I seem to do many things out of obligation. Also, maybe a princess’s obligation is to find a prince… or a king…

A fairy tale

As I’ve said before, using a toy that is a princess makes the fairy tale world easy to reference. Besides, using fairy tales isn’t anything new for me; I’ve done it before.  I enjoy flirting with our common cultural heritage. I enjoy using the figures from popular culture in another setting/story. It’s a fun “game” – to connect to our commons heritage.

lovers 2 april 2017

But who is my princess? Is she a subject for a prince? Or is she searching for him by herself? Maybe her kiss of love will make the prince come alive. Here begins the exploration of this image called lovers. But again, I can’t decide if, or when, I’m finished with this idea. So I continue to create new versions and try again and again.

The lovers

Flowers, a chest or is it a frozen prince? I try the image again and again. Why can’t I settle? Because the more I look and create these pictures or versions of this idea, the more I see the lovers that we all know.

I see Snow White and her Prince, but I also see Juliet with her dead Romeo. When I look at these pictures I see an attempt to create a pieta – Maria with Jesus who has just been taken down from the cross (I’m not there yet). I see Leia and her lover, and yes I see so much more …  This process of ideas that sparks from my original idea is why I don’t get to a point where I believe the image is finished. I think it will be the next time, or the next…

a try to make a pieta

When is an image finish?

Where does your image-work end?  Is an image only one image or can one image or an idea to be seen through several images that depict the same subject; the same story? Or should we always kill our darlings, and end up with only one picture?


  1. I enjoyed reading this post Kristina! It is very thought provoking! I think you should never have to “end” an idea. If you want to keep photographing it in different ways, then do so because we’ll always enjoying seeing your pictures! These photos are beautiful and I was especially touched by the pieta version. You get wonderful emotion from your minfigs.

    I haven’t watched Snow White since I was very young. Your description makes me want to see it again 🙂


    • kalexanderson

      Thank you Lynn 🙂 I’m not sure the movie of Snow White accually depicts anything else then how beauty and youth wins over evil. The Disney version loses alot of the layers in the original story. My fairytales comes from my childhood books and the Stories of the brother Grimm. So it you want to relive Snow White I recommend the orginal saga.

      I’m so happy that you say you like the pieta version, because that one I hestated to show all together. /Kristina

  2. Beautiful images and a gorgeous story to go with them. I love the series as a whole. Any of these images singularly tell your story, but together they are just a perfect story.

    I guess for me an image is finished when I have to get it pushed out. There has to come a time when you say, that’s it… and go. But then of course you look at them on Instagram and you see the bits you could have fixed a little more… but then, there’s always new images to make.

  3. I liked this article. It was thought provoking.

    I think you conflate two things tho, at least how I define things in my own brain (so YMMV), however to me it sounds like you are talking about an image as a set of pixels on a screen – i.e. a .jpg. and an image as a concept, idea, or story.

    Images as .jpgs are done when the artist says its done. When the artist gets to the point where they don’t want to work on it any more. This may take weeks, or in my case, a few hours.

    Images as a concept or story can take a lifetime to tell, and an artist may return to that story or concept as often, and thereby create as many images(.jpg) they need to fully explore the concept and tell the story. For some thats a single image, for others a lifetime obsession that consumes them – both are valid, if it is true to the artists soul.

    I mean look at Monet, who often painted the same scenes (his lilly pond for example) over and over again. You also see this in some Movie directors work, or a musical artist work, that explores the same themes over and over again. And you see it in your work presented here.

    • kalexanderson

      thanks Dave for your perspective. I really like Monet and I would say that he isn’t alone in working with the same subject over and over again./kristina

  4. Kristina, this is a great and thought provoking post – as the commenters have poited out before. I had been well aware that your question applies to paintings, but now I get a new perspective on photographs as well.

    When I first read your article, I thought, this is a probpem you only have as a photographer of arranged scenes because you can always go back an re-arrange them. But then I had to correct myself: While there might be a point of no return in travel photography, I can very well remember obsessing about some photos I made downtown: There are places I keep returning to, feeling, as you say, never quite done.

    But of course Dave is right too: While you might never finish your fairy tale, we are gifted with a series of photos which are each intriguing in their own right – looking through them (again and again), I also thought, no wonder you have a hard time picking “the final one!” They are all beautiful!

    Maybe we should think of them as “alternative takes”, as musicians do after recording a tune more than once during a studio session.

    > Thanks for this post!

  5. Kristina,

    When a photographer creates such beautiful images, why the rush to move on? I think these are some of your most beautiful and evocative images to date. I look forward to seeing what else you can dig up while your down this rabbit hole. I feel that I get a deeper understanding of your thought process with each blog post. It’s a fascinating process.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.