Apr 12, 2017 - Maja Hinrichs for SoGerman
… thousands of experiences, memories, people, cultures and travels all over the world. German-Canadian photographer Hans-Ludwig Blohm enjoys a life many people wish for. But throughout his life, his true passion remains the North.
“Hans, how often have you been to the North until today?” “Not often enough,” the 89-year-old laughs.
In 1952, young Hans-Ludwig Blohm travelled to the Arctic Circle for the first time in his life. “That was in Rovaniemi in Northern Finland,” Hans explains. “We were three, later two, young men. My friends Hans-Werner Mau, Gert Moebius and I made a trip all the way up to the North, passed the Arctic Circle and went to Norwegian Tromsø.” Later, many more trips to the Arctic followed.
In 2017, Hans and his wife Ingeborg have been living in Canada’s capital for more than 60 years. They became Canadians, even if they still feel German. What began with a three months “work-and-travel” trip in Scandinavia in 1952, Hans continued throughout his Canadian life: he travelled uncountable times to the Northern Canada.
Inspired by his father’s hobby, Hans became a professional photographer. Yet growing up during WW2, he had to learn something else as to make a living.
“When I was young, I wanted to become a bookseller as my father. But it was the postwar period in Germany. So I had to become a carpenter even if I was too weak for this job.”
Hans and his wife Ingeborg have known each other since their childhood in Rendsburg, a former Danish fortress in Schleswig Holstein. Their parents had been already friends.
“Due to my father’s work, my family and I moved from Rendsburg to Canada,” Ingeborg explains how the young couple was separated in the 1950s.
“But my boyfriend came two years later to Canada. That was in August 1956. In November, we were married.”
Living in Canada, Hans became more and more attached to the Northern part of the country.
I am a Nordmensch, Hans explains. I've always felt related to the Northern culture.
His first trip was with his daughter Heike in 1977 to photograph an installation of a new bridge over the Eagle River, only 15 kilometers away from the Arctic Circle. Two years later, then known as Department of Indian and Northern Affairs (DIAN) (now Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada) invited Hans to visit Pond Inlet, Nunavut.
“There was a meeting with the Elders and I had the chance to take some photos. During this trip, I met Nigel Wilford [from the department] who became a good friend of me later. He spoke Inuktitut to the people, their mother language. The Elders were absolutely impressed by this,” Hans says.
Decades after these first trips, Hans has seen all Canadian provinces and has been several times in the North.
“I am a Nordmensch (north person),” Hans explains. “My German hometown was 20 kilometers away from an old Viking settlement called Haithabu. So I’ve always felt related to the Northern culture. But all my trips were only possible because of my job as a photographer. I took photos everywhere, for example at the first Inuk fashion shows in Munich and Berlin as a part of Team Canada 2002. And I brought them back to the people on my next trip up north.”
Hans Blohm looks back on a life full of stories and experiences and of course: uncountable photos which document his life. There would be so much more to tell you about Hans, but as every good thing in life, even a good story has to end at the best part.
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