the bigger picture

In Norway, a Photographer and His Partner Are Isolating and Expecting

Espen Rasmussen documents his family’s new normal.

19th of March Hanging out with our friends and family is what we look forward to the most when all of this is over. We miss having people over for dinner, making pasta, pouring wine, and playing music. Photo: Espen Rasmussen/VII/Redux
19th of March Hanging out with our friends and family is what we look forward to the most when all of this is over. We miss having people over for dinner, making pasta, pouring wine, and playing music. Photo: Espen Rasmussen/VII/Redux

Espen Rasmussen has documented everything from the rise of far-right extremists in Greece to refugees in Colombia. For his latest project, The Longest Day, the photographer has produced intimate, atmospheric images of his life at home. In Rasmussen’s “very first personal project,” the mundane routines, insidious fear, and soul-stirring humanity of the coronavirus crisis coalesce.

As photo editor for the weekend magazine VG Helg, Rasmussen often sees “countless pictures of people in empty public spaces,” prompting him to take on a project that would “touch people on a different level.” The Longest Day presents the photographer’s partner, Julia, who is pregnant and due in four weeks, as well as his three children, ages 8, 11, and 14. Despite initial reticence Rasmussen’s partner had — “[Julia] is not used to me taking pictures of her” — the photographer “eventually convinced her that pregnancy is also [a] part of life” worth sharing.

青青青国产在观免费2018For the photographer, the difficulty was in knowing whether to share the work with a wider audience. “I got this kind of sneaky feeling of questioning, ‘Who am I to take pictures of my family?’ We are lucky that we’re at home, the health-care system is working, there aren’t a lot of deaths here, and the government makes sure that people get paid even though they don’t have jobs. But I, as a photojournalist and photographer, feel that I have to contribute at this time. This is what I can make now, and the theme is something that’s close to people.”

Of all of the photographs Rasmussen took, one definitively encapsulates the sign of the times: “The one where [Julia] is sitting on the sofa and looking out of the window where you can see her stomach. There’s this play with shadow and light in the back wall, and it says a lot. She’s just waiting; it reflects the uncertainty I think we are all feeling right now.”

Scroll below to see the rest of the images from The Longest Day青青青国产在观免费2018, with captions from Julia.

22nd of March Every day we text or talk to friends and family on the phone. Some are in quarantine, some are showing symptoms, and some are living in places where no one is infected yet. Photo: Espen Rasmussen/VII/Redux
16th of March Just a couple of days ago, we were so busy. Now we are not. As long as we can stay here, in our house, put food on the table and know that the kids are happy, we don’t need much else. Not right now. Photo: Espen Rasmussen/VII/Redux
15th of March People are dying by the minute all over the world. Old people, young people, people who are sick and some that were healthy. We follow the situation in Italy, and the reports are devastating. Photo: Espen Rasmussen/VII/Redux
16th of March The kids are back home with us. We explain to them that we have to be extra careful in the coming weeks. Julia is pregnant, dad has diabetes, and we cannot risk any of us getting as much as a cold. No hanging out with friends. They give us no fight back. We are a little surprised. And so proud. Photo: Espen Rasmussen/VII/Redux
16th of March The kids are back home with us. We explain to them that we have to be extra careful in the coming weeks. Julia is pregnant, dad has diabetes, and we cannot risk any of us getting as much as a cold. No hanging out with friends. They give us no fight back. We are a little surprised. And so proud. Photo: Espen Rasmussen/VII/Redux
23rd of March There are signs that something is happening. The hospital wants me to come in for a checkup. A woman is guarding the door at the entrance of the hospital, making sure no one gets in without an appointment. We are at one of Norway’s largest hospitals. The silence is striking. I know that behind these walls, infected people are getting help breathing. Photo: Espen Rasmussen/VII/Redux
18th of March The kids are settling into the situation, and arranging video chats with friends to replace playdates. Photo: Espen Rasmussen/VII/Redux
17th of March Today I have an online girls night with friends of mine from college. We haven’t hung out this many of us in years. Photo: Espen Rasmussen/VII/Redux
21st of March We know how lucky we are to be living in Norway. The spreading of the virus is still under control. We have free health care for all and our hospitals have world-leading medical expertise. We cannot keep from hoping that the baby might come a few weeks early. All we want is to bring her home with us. Photo: Espen Rasmussen/VII/Redux
21st of March We know how lucky we are to be living in Norway. The spreading of the virus is still under control. We have free health care for all and our hospitals have world-leading medical expertise. We cannot keep from hoping that the baby might come a few weeks early. All we want is to bring her home with us. Photo: Espen Rasmussen/VII/Redux
24th of March We work, cook good food, go for walks, try to get as much sleep as we can. The baby is kicking all the time. The Norwegian government announces that the lockdown will last until over Easter. Photo: Espen Rasmussen/VII/Redux
24th of March We work, cook good food, go for walks, try to get as much sleep as we can. The baby is kicking all the time. The Norwegian government announces that the lockdown will last until over Easter. Photo: Espen Rasmussen/VII/Redux
25th of March Espen is a photo editor, I am a journalist, and we work at the same newspaper. Every day we are surrounded by news updates on the virus. People we love have lost their income overnight. Photo: Espen Rasmussen/VII/Redux
25th of March Espen is a photo editor, I am a journalist, and we work at the same newspaper. Every day we are surrounded by news updates on the virus. People we love have lost their income overnight. Photo: Espen Rasmussen/VII/Redux
16th of March Just a couple of days ago, we were so busy. Now we are not. As long as we can stay here, in our house, put food on the table and know that the kids are happy, we don’t need much else. Not right now. Photo: Espen Rasmussen/VII/Redux
26th of March We are preparing for our daughter to be born. I take the new covers, sheets, and the mattress for her bed and hang them all out on our terrace. Espen gave me the stork as a gift when we decided to try and have a baby. The pink birds he bought in Brazil when we had just found out that a baby was on the way. And we keep waiting, isolating ourselves inside our house. Photo: Espen Rasmussen/VII/Redux
25th of March Espen is a photo editor, I am a journalist, and we work at the same newspaper. Every day we are surrounded by news updates on the virus. People we love have lost their income overnight. Photo: Espen Rasmussen/VII/Redux
13th of March In a few hours I’ll go to bed, get a couple of hours of sleep and then wake up and realize: If Espen gets a cold or gets infected by the coronavirus, they won’t let him come with me to the hospital. At 03:30 am, he’ll wake up too. We stay awake together. The next day I find out that I am right: the hospitals have updated their routines. We agree and understand, but decide to be as careful as we possibly can in the upcoming weeks. Also, Espen has diabetes, which puts him in the risk group for COVID-19. Photo: Espen Rasmussen/VII/Redux
13th of March In a few hours I’ll go to bed, get a couple of hours of sleep and then wake up and realize: If Espen gets a cold or gets infected by the coronavirus, they won’t let him come with me to the hospital. At 03:30 am, he’ll wake up too. We stay awake together. The next day I find out that I am right: the hospitals have updated their routines. We agree and understand, but decide to be as careful as we possibly can in the upcoming weeks. Also, Espen has diabetes, which puts him in the risk group for COVID-19. Photo: Espen Rasmussen/VII/Redux
Photographs of Isolating and Expecting in Norway