Knut Stokmo is a well-known name in Tromsø, having been a photographer in the city for more than 40 years. Children’s portraits and memories of life’s big events grace the walls of many a home, signed Stokmo Foto A/S, the company Knut and his wife Kirsten ran together. As a commercial photographer, Knut Stokmo has documented the city’s businesses for
several decades, leaving us source material with great cultural-historical value. But that’s another story.
The exhibition Gatelangs (Along the Streets) is an astonishing story about the youth Knut Stokmo from Tromsdalen, who impressed an international public with his exquisite artistic talent and technical skill.
Knut was apprenticed to the Tromsø-photographer Signe Følstad, who gave him thorough training in the field. At 21 years of age he earned his journeyman’s certificate, and at 25 he ended his formal education with a master’s certificate (1967). His training included study trips to southern Norway, Germany and England, funded in part by a grant from Kodak.
From 1959 to 1968, the year he sets up his own business, Knut wanders the streets with his camera, drawing inspiration from international trends and diverse genres. He takes the initiative to establish Tromsø Photo Club and is its first foreman. At the same time, he submits photos to photo magazines throughout Scandinavia and participates in competitions and exhibitions, winning prizes and rave reviews.
“Old Fisherman”, a picture of a local man popularly called Lus-Lars, is Knut Stokmo’s contribution to an exhibition in Poland in 1963, organised by the International Federation of Photographic Art, FIAP. Competing with participants from across the world, Knut’s work is selected as one of 14 to be given an exclusive presentation in the exhibition catalogue. Four
years later, he is one of two Norwegian photographers represented in FIAP’s yearbook. The photo magazine KAMERA calls Knut Stokmo’s success in the early 1960s a “comet career”, while the Swedish magazine Film og Fotonytt expects “great things” from the young man from Tromsø.
The exhibition Gatelangs presents a small selection works from Stokmo’s early career. The pictures reveal a sure eye for composition and a person-ality keen to explore and experiment, open and unafraid when meeting the people he photographs.