In a box marked “private”, an amazing collection of glassplates were found 30 years ago, amongst the remnants of the two portrait photographers Marie Høeg (1866-1949) and Bolette Berg (1872-1944).
In 1895, they established the Berg & Høeg photography studio in Horten, Norway, where they took portraits and views of Horten and surroundings and lived on the proceeds from sales. At that time, photography was seen as a decent and acceptable profession for women, as it was a profession that demanded a certain amount of aesthetic sense – as part of the female nature.
Horten was a naval base with the main shipyard for the Norwegian navy and had a strong flow of people who needed photographs for celebration and recollection. Perhaps that is how the two photographers understood by the very process of portraiture how important it is to stage oneself and to what a large degree that contributes to how we are perceived.
The Preus museum collection has 440 glass negatives from Berg & Høeg. Among the cartons in the 1980s were discovered some on which had been written “private.” It is not unusual that photographers also have private photographs in their archives. But these were not ordinary keepsake pictures. They indicate that the two photographers, especially Marie Høeg, experimented with various gender roles.