Field notes from your editor

September 27, 2020

At this point, the website contains 116 pages, most of them stacked in a continuous feed so it’s not instantly noticable, but it still is a somewhat embarrasing 116 pages, or topics. It’s a rough estimation, but I’d say that every topic contains an average of seven pictures (zero to five for a blogpost, 15 for a travelogue, 5 per assignment). Which makes for more than 800 photographs. Needless to say that this is not a portfolio. It’s documenting work. Including some sort of portfolio, although I’d rather not use the word. It’s a living thing, fed, raised and cared for like a pet.

In my own defense: I like making websites. I enjoy tinkering with lay outs and navigation, aligning content with design, selecting and pairing images. I also like seeing pictures in their context and making them accessible, not necessarily to others. Pictures that otherwise waste away on the hard drive. I like making books too. Different medium, similar reasons. It helps me to get a grip on the outcome of photographing for almost a decade now and learn from it. Building and maintaining a website is a blunt confrontation with where you stand as a photographer, beyond the single image. 

The better part of the website shows pictures in their original context. The documenting part. It’s only on the sample pages that I detach them from where they come from. Cross selections, based on or moulded into formal, not unproblematic frameworks, like ‘landscape’, or ‘interior’. And then there is a sort of meta layer in the form of a blog. Also the home of small, incidental series that do not belong anywhere else.
It’s partly an occupational hazard, this inclination to offer multiple entries to the same content to improve accessibility, and to contextualize content in different ways to provide more than just one narrative. Another truth behind these layers is, of course, a lack of series and concepts. Organizing pictures based on their geographical provenance is the most obvious thing to do – and quite satisfying I must admit – but not necessarily the most interesting. I always find myself looking for cross connections, for other ways to organize them. Not sure if there are any that are fruitful. I do wonder how likely it is that several meaningful bodies of work could ever emerge from a bunch of singles that are taken without a clear concept beforehand. Not very, I’m afraid. Unless your name is Todd Hido.

Perhaps I should forget about series and admit and embrace the autonomy of these pictures and present a seemingly random selection on the homepage. I’ve been thinking about it on and off, and looking at Marton Perlaki’s website the other day, a photographer that I first came across at Unseen photo fair, sort of revived that idea.

On the other hand, looking at ‘landscape’: I intended to regularly update the sample sections. Turns out I almost never do. I sometimes replace an image or one of the pairs, but basically, it’s been the same selection since I first put it online. I feel that more recent pictures do not fit in, perhaps because they don’t, or perhaps the current selection has grown on me. I wonder what that means. It might mean that this is the beginning, or the core, of a series.

Picture taken in Telemark, Norway. Just one from recently that I happen to like. 


Dwelling

August 17, 2020
It’s less than a year ago, but this picture seems to come from another lifetime. I could travel freely, hop on a plane for a short hiking trip. I still had my cameras, the one I took this picture with and the one he’s holding in his hands. We could sit side by side, unknowingly of any social distancing concept. We were still connected. A sort of togetherness that in time vaporized with the rest of it.

“Have you tried dwelling on it forever?”

(Picture a woman in tears, on the phone with her bored friend, from a cartoon series mocking our modern times, shallow and self-absorbed, using the visual language of graphic novels from the fifties or sixties.)

I think of this line every now and then. It makes me smile. Not that I haven’t. Tried.

Bergen, Norway, 2019. Picture taken with the Nikon D750


Voorzieningen

July 09, 2020


I like the word voorzieningen, which means something like ‘facilities’. It’s a generic word, meaningless almost. It could be anything. But it’s also very specific, in a given context. In this particular one, it’s about entertainment. A well defined, pre-established concept that leaves little room for surprises. I’m always drawn to these areas, knowing exactly what to expect, and yet curious about details, execution and interpretation.

Vacation park in Exloo, Drenthe, The Netherlands. Pictures taken with the Nikon Z6


Of paths and greens

June 14, 2020




Going into the woods, in the middle of summer, with a digital camera, is a recipe for disappointment. Photographing woods is always so much more difficult than I think it is (especially Dutch woods I’m sorry to say), the middle of summer is problematic pretty much wherever one goes, and a digital camera is just not a good match with either of the two. That being said, I’m not unhappy with these. Thanks, obviously, to the even light and calm skies. And I know I’ve been belittleling the Dutch landscape on more than one occassion, but I really enjoyed the scenery in this area, and how blissfully quiet it was. The recurrent, classic/cliché perspective of a road disappearing into the distance is a bit lame perhaps, but I like paths, and I allowed myself to use them as a compositional crutch. I even appreciate it as a repetitive element throughout this little series.

Veluwe, The Netherlands. A forest-rich area of appr. 1000 km2 in the province of Gelderland, the Veluwe features many different landscapes, including woodland, heath, some small lakes and Europe's largest sand drifts.


Garden village

May 12, 2020




I might want to follow up on this. This, being a small garden village, a neighborhood really, in the South of Rotterdam. Built in 1949 to address the most immediate post war need for homes. The small, one storey houses were designed for a lifespan of some 25 years, but they are still standing today, be it worn out and facing demolition. Part of it is gone already, leaving a gap in the middle of the neighborhood, a wasteland with only a few lampposts left. Part is still inhabited, part is deserted, sealed off, their small gardens overgrown. Painted curtains in the windows to make it look less grim. On the internet, I read that there has been a dispute going on for years now on how to rebuild the neighborhood. How to preserve the original lay out, or not. How to ensure that the current population will be able to return if the housing prices go up. Who has a say in what. Not much seems to be happening now. I’d like to return in a few months time, to see what hasn’t happend and what has. And again in another few months. If only to see the seasons change.

Garden village Wielewaal, Charlois, Rotterdam.