50 Years of Documentary Photography
Rolf Kjolseth began his work as a dedicated photographer almost half a century ago in 1957 while conducting the United States’ first “People to People” program — a six month good will expedition through Latin America, traveling by jeep from Colorado to Brazil.
Since then, one-man exhibitions of his photographs have been held in Europe, Latin America, and the U.S., including Amsterdam, Bremen, Hamburg, Lodz (Poland), Mexico City, Boulder, CO, and Rochester, NY.
Rolf has taught both undergraduate classes and graduate seminars on “Uses of Photography in Sociological Research.” He is a member of the International Visual Sociology Association and has lectured and presented papers on photographic methods in Germany, Mexico, France, Belgium, the U.S. and the Netherlands.
While his passion for photography and exploring social conditions has taken him to over 50 countries, Paris has exerted a special attraction for him.
Rolf explains: “Not only is Paris one of the most beautiful cities in the world, it is also an endless source of fascination and discovery. It keeps drawing me back and since 1990 I have spent a month each year as a ‘photo-flaneur’ (a strolling photographer) exploring this exquisitely intricate city.”
“By rough calculation I have walked at least 1500 miles on the city streets — or about 2400 kilometers as the Parisians measure it — and by exact tabulation I have made 9,897 images as of 2004.”
Several of these photographs are in the French National Library’s archive of “Photographers of the 20th Century,” to which Rolf has now contributed three volumes (listed below). The twentieth century is of particular importance because it was the first full century to be photographed, and this collection contains works by some of the world’s best photographers.
Other images on this website are included in the permanent collection of the Carnavalet Museum for the History of the City of Paris.
Rolf adds, “When I am not traveling abroad, I spend my days adding more images to this website and working on my prints in the ‘Rolfidou’ — the nickname my wife gave to the wonderful traditional darkroom I built in the basement of our home. You see, it still has a lot of exposed pipes like the Centre Pompidou in Paris… And when it’s springtime, yes, I will be back in Paris!”
Rolf Kjolseth’s contributions to “Photographers of the 20th Century”
Survivors: Underemployed Workers on Third World Streets. 2 vols. 1995. These two volumes contain 35 11x14" black-and-white silver gelatin prints depicting conditions in India, China, Mexico, Sri Lanka, South Africa and Kenya and is accompanied by introductory text, titles, and descriptions in English, French, Spanish and German.
Tableaux parisiens: 1990-1997. 1999. This volume contains 40 11x14" black-and-white images of everyday life in Paris.
[Reference: Bnf Est. Ep-3107 (2)-Fol. Archive of “Photographers of the 20th Century,” Departement des estampes et de la photographie, Bibliotheque Nationale de France.]