Last year, I lived with a Sami family in Norwegian Lapland for a week. It was the annual reindeer slaughter season and I promised to work if I could hang around and take some pictures. I didn't have any big expectations of the trip. Just that I knew there would be a lot of killing, fresh meat eating, and slow, broken conversations in a Northern Norwegian dialect. I lived in a tent in their backyard.
It took that entire week to know them. I put the camera down a lot. I didn't want to seem like a scientist taking advantage of them for my personal research project.
I suppose this is the struggle with most photographers that shoot documentary projects. How do you get close to your subject when you constantly have a camera strapped to your face? Well, I did feel closer to them around day 7 but by then it was too late, I had to go home. Still there are thousands of pictures from this unfinished project lying in my drawer unseen. This is one of my favorites.
I find it curious that people love to smile and pose next to animals they've killed. My old photo albums have hundreds of pictures of me proudly holding dead fish as a kid. What makes killing such a proud achievement?
The Samis were certainly proud people and after living with them, I dreamed of being a reindeer herder myself, hanging a big handmade knife from my giant belt and slaughtering reindeer as a means of survival and trade.
By Corey Arnold