I saw an interesting documentary yesterday on Arte, about Jock Sturgus. I didn't know this photographer. Anyhow, he has an impressive portfolio and a very soft style (that made me think about Mona Kuhn (although she's younger that Jock Sturges) of which you can find a nice interview on http://www.lensculture.com/kuhn.html.
A picture is only a picture when it is on print. At least it is to me. The colour, the tonality, the size, the place and so many other factors convey the emotion the photographer had in mind. Four years ago I had the opportunity to briefly meet Douglas Menuez on the Innova booth at Photokina. It was a nice encounter where we discussed prints, print quality, the difference between silver prints and inktjets, and all kind of technical stuff. Now four years later Douglas writes about his continuous search for the best possible print. He says:
"So the challenge is lessened but is essentially the same: to make prints that move us emotionally. It’s about the image, but also the print as object, as a beautiful delivery system for the subject matter. The choice of substrate says as much about the photographer as the content of the work and can affect our perception of the photograph as subconscious filters. To each their own of course, but I finally found mine; the look and feel of silver. Can’t beat that."
As I mentioned a few times on this blog, I was working on a project which I named 'ABUSE'. Well, ABUSE is Final! For me it is only the finalisation of a project. I had the opportunity to work with fantastic people that gave me the best they could in conveying complex, intimate emotions and feelings. Thank you!
For victims of abuse the impact of abuse is also final for the rest of their lives, whatever the abuse (physical, mental, sexual).
Want to see more. Go to the PEOPLE tab and open ABUSE..
Yesterday was D-day. After working for months on my ABUSE project I was ready to show it to a sort of independent jury (photographer, responsible of FoMu, Fotografiecircuit Vlaanderen, CvB) at FoMu who organised this portfolio viewing. Every half an hour another photografer showing off his or her work and receiving feedback. A special feeling I can say. I was pleased to hear that parts of my work has very interesting insights, is daring and has an original approach. Other part of my work were less catchy. I was told why they think that way and how, in their opinion, it could be improved.
The positive feedback on the ABUSE concept was great and rewarding. Most of the pictures I showed caught the attention I was looking for. The square format was perfect and the use of un-sharpness more than pleasing. Sixteen pictures though, were a little to much. Also my choice of background was not always appreciated the way I expected. A pure Black and White would be better I was told.
What do you think (original/adapted B&W)?
Last Thursday Erwin Olaf was at FoMu giving a lecture on his photography throughout his almost 30 year carreer. I didn't have a ticket to get in but gave it a shot. I was lucky. Some no shows and Stijn Huyghe's 2€ (thanks mate) allowed me to get in.It was fantastic to see (and hear) the evolution Erwin went through. How his personal work impacted his professional work. How people around him impact the outcome. How technology allowed Erwin to try new things. How old work influences new work (thank you for the inspired 'Blacks' preview). How budgets make a difference. How creativity and vision lead to what you want to acheive as a photographer.
Create, arrange, plan, DO
It's been a while since I posted something on the blog. And there is reason for it. My project on ABUSE took almost all of my free time. April 1st I headed for AERO 2009 in Friedrichshafen followed by some rest giving holidays in Spain.
The 'ABUSE' project is coming to its end. I couldn't shoot 16 models as initially anticipated. The end result though, is what I was looking for. There is still some post production and printing (a picture is only a photo when it is printed) to be done, which should be finalised by the end of the month. The end result is really promising and is the result of super encounters with surprising, great people. Having the opportunity to work with different people giving their interpretation on the duality between sensuality and pain is just fantastic. Different personalities, different expressions, different interpretations. Thank you all for giving me this great time. AERO was really busy. Meeting, meeting and meetings, then eating, drinking and talking aeroplanes and avionics. For me the end result of this fair are additional aviation products and contacts for Visionaire. The day after my return from AERO my wife, kids and I headed for Empuriabrave, near Figueras for some holidays. The weather was OK on Monday and Tuesday. From Wednesday on .... well it could be better but it didn't ruin the joy of rest. My photographic high this time was in Barcelona. I'v been to this great city a few times for work and pleasure but never visited one of Gaudi's great architectural marvels 'la cassa battlo'.
My wife experimented a little with night photography with some astonishing results.
And as a bonus .... If you happened to visit Barcelona. At Mallorca 325 there is small bookshop KOWASA that has hundreds and hundreds of books only on photography. I had Michael Kenna in my favourites for a while but having the book now is even better. The way he composes his pictures and processes the B&Ws is amazing. Michael Kenna will be exposing in Brussels in October this year.
Last Sunday I took the wife and kids to visit Erwin Olaf’s expo (till 07/06/2009) at the fotomuseum in Antwerp. Great stuff! With over 80 large prints the variety in his work is show (1984-2009). Many of the picture's are provoking and let you reflect on the subject matter. These same, provoking, pictures are also very stylish with an eye for every little detail. I think the eye for detail (with humour) and the way colour (or the absence of it) is used and the post production is what makes Erwin Olaf so unique.
It is difficult to say what part of his work most impressed me most. What I know for sure is that the 'Blacks' series inspired me and 'Rouge' made me want to take picture's expressing the same atmosphere.
Close to the fotomuseum there is a nice galley Van Campen & Rochtus. They had the vernisage of Jan Bosschaerts 2009 work last thursday. Since we're all fans of his work we went for a look. And who was there.... the master himself. Thank you for the nice chat and allowing us to admire fantastic oil paintings.
It has been a while that I wanted to do something with dance. The Tango in particular because it is so beautiful, stylish, passionate and sensual. I found my model Ludwika via Model Mayhem. Here model profile attracted me because of the strong pictures she has in here portfolio and - of course - here interest in dance. Because of the intimacy of the Argentinean tango, Ludwika preferred to do the photo-shoot with here partner Frank (who happens to de studying for his degree in Photography in Amsterdam). A very good choice. They were both lovely to work with and very interesting people.
Initially I wanted to photograph the dance in its movement. We did some trials and decided to go for the static poses (which in the end proved to be a good choice to learn). I've setup a beauty dish behind a large silk (on their left-front) and placed a softbox on the boom on top of them.
I was paging through Marcel Van der Vlugt's book 'Beauty and other secrets' because I remembered some special portraits of him and wanted to refresh my mind. In his book Marcel quoted a few lines that made me thing about my personal project and some reactions I received. Marcel writes : "People often judge your images in a very strange way. When they say interesting, what they really mean is that they think your pictures are lousy. When they say your images are very strong they mean they are too good for them or they just don't understand. When they call your images really beautiful, you know you have classic."
The project I'm working on is about abuse, pain and repel women can feel or even live with and at the the sensuality they express (at all times). The images are unsharp on purpose because (just like you see in work of Paolo Roversi, Anton Corbijn and Lorenzo Castore for example) it is not the intention to recognise or focus on parts of the details but rather feel the emotion and see the contradiction.
So I wonder, do pictures have to be razor sharp to be really beautiful?
Five months till the next Rencontres d'Arles. This event is one of my great moments of the year. 2008 was curated by Christian Lacroix. He did a great job, and managed to get some inspiring, amazing, worth to visit expositions. My wife and I started our visit to Avedon's 'Mr and Mrs Comfort'. These picture's (Avedon made this series of pictures to protest the fashion industry in 1995, published in The Newyorker) are more than 20 year old and still stand. The expression in the skeleton and the interaction with the model Nadja Auermann.
We stayed as long as we could in the Cloitre Saint-Throphine and saw the prints 3 times. I hope (and work for it) that one day we can realise such a production and, who knows, show it in Arles (one may be ambitious ;-).
On our way to the press center we stopped for a guy getting out of a car. This guy was nicely dressed and greated a couple. When we passed by I thought, this has to be a photographer. But then, we are in Arles and there must be more than 10.000 photographers there.
The next day we attended the press conference on fashion photography. The nicely dressed Photographer was Paolo Roversi I learned. He had a nice expo in Eglise Saint-Anne.
Friday evening we attended Mano a Mano. A debate between two icons of photographery (Peter Lindbergh and Paolo Roversi) accompanied by a projection of 2 decades of photography. Amazing! The morning after Mano a Mano, our second press conference. It was more serious than the evening debate. It was also more emotional and showed the persons behind the camera, the way they work and interact with models. After the press conference my wife had a chat with Peter Linbergh. These short interactions are thing one talks about for hours. The many words said, the way they are said, the impact they have on your way of seeing and working.
1km out of the city center you have 'parc des ateliers'. Some 20 tot 30 different expositions are shown there. The mega and splendid work of Tim Walker, and the discovery of Grégoire Alexandre (some one we will be seeing a lot of in the future), were highlights of the day. I also need to mention Grégoire Korganow. He had two expositions. One on fashion behind the scenes (which I liked most) and one on the people left behing when a partner is in prison. I found the photographs not so special, but. But Grégoire also told us the story behind. It was very, very very emotional. Sometimes he couldn't find his words and tears came on almost all faces. This is also what photography is all about. The story, the emotion. Listen to James Nachtway on TED if you want to be moved.
Also in 'parc des ateliers' was Pierre Gonnord. He showed large portraits that talked without saying anything.
Back in the city center we also found the self portrait of Lea Crespi.
What makes Arles so special? Well, everything is Photography during that week at the beginning of July. It is photography in streets, restaurants, bars, public places and historic sites, everrywhere. In one of those restaurants we saw Torros. A series of pictures taken by Michael Crouser on bull fighting.
Arles is also a meeting place of all sorts of people. We talked with publishers, looked at portfolios, bumped into a Japanees and started talking Lensbabies in the middle of the street and exhanging ideas.
I'm anxious to know what 2009 will bring. 5 month and Arles here we come.
The last two weeks of December were simply fantastic. First I had the opportunity to photograph Charlotte in here house. It was a very rewarding photo shoot. I went to Charlotte with a certain concept in my head (something like 'Women Before 10 AM' of Veronique Vial or 'Le matin' a book of Henk Van Cauwenbergh) but came home with stronger, more emotional and sensual photographs.
The week after Charlotte I had two models coming back to the studio. After that I went to Spain with the wife and kids for some days of warmth and sun. A great way to end the year and start fresh (and do the post production of 3 fantastic photo shoots).
While cleaning up a bit I stumbled on 'House of orange' Issue 1 2008, a magazine on Photography, beauty, hair and makeup. A great and very inspiring magazine. Until now this is the only issue that was published. Nice layout and great inspiring pictures. I think magazines are great to get idea's and stay aware of the latest trends in image creation.
Other great magazines are POP (the N° 18 issues has some fantastic pictures done by Peter Lindbergh and a special of Stephanie Seymour), Zoo Magazine with surprising photographs of Bryan Adams (yep the singer), V Magazine and I-D.
Magazines evolve and influence the future of the imagery we are looking at whereas books are more static (The latest of Andreas Bitesnich is great and also Babeth (Babeth Djian) and Creatures (Andrew Zuckerman)).