14 August, 2023

I haven’t taken a single picture since I photographed the garden, and I haven’t shot more than four rolls of film with the new camera so far. There’s nothing left on the hard drive that is worth editing. I wish I felt an eagerness to go out and take photos, but I don’t. I’m out of ideas and inspiration, out of energy, despite a vague, undefined desire to create something.

I don’t follow anything closely on social media. I’ve lost most of my interest in what other people put online, and I hardly post anything myself. And when I do, I don’t really care what happens to it.

I haven’t spoken to T. for a while now. It’s not unusual that I don’t hear from him for a longer period of time, what is unusual, is that he doesn’t hear from me either. We come from very different places, but also not, and I always felt that we spoke a similar (visual) language. But I’ve known for a long time now that this relationship is too complicated to last.

None of these things are directly related to each other, but it’s also no coincidence that they happen more or less at the same time. It’s like each one is dragging the others down with it. I started all this a good ten years ago. Perhaps they all came with roughly the same expiration date. It’s not as sad as it sounds though, or at least I’m not feeling sad about it. Not too much anyway. I trust that at some point I will pick up the camera again. I tell myself that I’m using this hiatus to think about what I want to do, about new things to try or places to go, but actually I’m not. Regardless, I know it’s going to be okay. Perhaps in a somewhat different context, without all the sharing and the conversations. I’d miss that I’m sure, but it’s a sort of natural, inevitable course of events that I’ve seen coming for a long time.

From Mallaig to Rùm, Scotland, 2013.  Coming back here hopefully means taking a break from my hiatus.

The questionnaire
10 August, 2023

When I was fourteen, fifteen years old, I spent my pocket money on British magazines like Smash Hits, Just Seventeen, I-D, The Face, etc. Some of them included a section that asked celebrities or just passers by about the last book they had read, what they were wearing, their favorite movie or band, things they loved, liked or hated. Similarily, I completed my own lists. The first conscious act of trying to define myself, and see myself in the light of others. Not only was filling in a simple questionnaire enough to provide a sense of self, it was also quite satisfying to see it in writing. The lists became a daily journal, recording the mundane events in the life of a teenager who never quite fit in. I kept a diary until much later, when the need to write faded away for no particular reason. But the need for a story lingered. I think every human needs a story about themselves. To tell others, but mostly yourself. And the journal became a narrative, a life boiled down to a few dominating storylines. I never liked my narrative as much as I liked my lists, or the person that emerged from it. And now, in my mid-fifties, I feel that I’m better of without one. A narrative has the tendency to become a self-fulfilling prophecy. It’s hard to escape from ideas that you keep telling yourself over and over again, and that you use to explain your life. That may have served a purpose, call it self-insight, but more often than not it feels like a burden. These worn-out ideas, not untrue I’m sure, are unproductive, and their explanatory power is no longer wanted.

And now I feel I should make a clever crossover to photography, since that’s what this blog is about after all, but there isn’t one. Adding a self-portrait feels appropriate though. It’s not much of a stretch to see self-portraiture as just another way of recording one’s self, but I feel that my half hearted efforts in the field are more about the challenge of exposing myself, of being seen. It's fair to say that I don’t do self-portraiture, I never know how to pull it off, and I find the whole process somewhat saddening. So there’s the occasional snapshot, without thinking much, not planning anything, seizing the moment. In this case: in a hotel room in Dax, France, on a warm summer morning in 2022, while waiting for my turn in the showers.

09 June, 2023

Hoek van Holland beach. Olympus OM1 50 mm, Fomapan 400.
Okay, I said I wouldn’t, but I did, and now I’m finally more or less at peace with how they look. Not too eager to load the camera with another roll of Fomapan though. 

12 May, 2023
“As if each of us might somehow have a blueprint. As if somewhere there's the shape of my life, and I had the chance to choose a few variations, but not far from the pattern.”

- David Vann, Aquarium

Point zero
12 April, 2023

Veluwe National Park. Olympus OM1 50 mm, Kodak Portra 400.
I remember having taken pictures here with my very first camera, a Kodak Instamatic with those large film casettes and cubic flash bulbs. My mum and dad on their bicycles, much younger than I am now. I loved visiting Veluwe National Park when I was a child, and I still do. I thought the mixture of architecture, art and nature was exactly what I needed to try the new camera, so off we went. A stone cold day, with only every so often a glimpse of faint sunlight.

These are from the first roll of film coming out of the Olympus. Unedited, except for the first one that I rotated a little, and the last two that I cut to a 5x4.  (Whenever people tell me they didn’t edit their photos I think who cares. But part of me feels that it’s not done to edit photos taken with a film camera, as if it’s bad enough that I have had them digitised. Also, you can hardly fail with the Z6, technically, so I was a little worried about this experiment, but the scans I received at least don’t make me feel like a fraude, now that I have a camera in my hands that actually requires some work). 

Typically, I didn’t do much research beforehand. Instead I visited this lovely vintage camera shop to see what they had in store. I see the Olympus, that I chose for its compact body, built in light meter, solid reputation and overall handling, as a point zero. I’m just gonna use it and see what I like and don’t like about it, the process as well as the outcome, and take it from there. It’s the only way for me to start anything new at all, and not be overwhelmed (paralysed) by possibilities, choices, doubts, etc. 

Not sure how I feel about these files, apart from some relief that they are not total crap. They are a bit more coarse and ‘dirty’ than I would have wished for. Noise more than grain. A few on this roll are somewhat underexposed, and that apparently is something to try and avoid at all times. Am rather fond of how the pavilions turned out though, Van Eyck’s in particular. The grain and hues bring out the roughness of the materials, but somehow also make them softer. Under these circumstances (foul weather, cold light, grey subject) I think the digital files would have been slightly depressing.