Making a photograph

May 03, 2020

Do photographers look or see? Do we take a picture, or make a picture? I find these (recurring) debates on the internet rather self-indulgent to be honest. And yet, yesterday’s editing session felt exactly like that: making photographs. The raw material being badly taken, uninteresting pictures of a gym. I can hardly blame myself for their less than acceptable quality (but I do anyway): I took them during one of those annual social events from work, two years ago in Amsterdam, which included a visit to two former school buildings by architect Ingwersen, both transformed into a sort of creative hubs. There were several workshops, and I was supposed to spend some time in the gym. And I considered myself lucky, not because I fancied a work out with collegues, but I like gyms, as interiors, and based on the design of the bulding, I had expectations. So I rushed into this space before anyone else did, to take some pictures. If I look at them now, I can see how there wasn’t much time to absorb the place and really ‘see’ it. Not enough to decide what I wanted from it. I liked the windows, but the light situation was difficult, I liked the objects, but their arrangement was awkward, I liked the colours, the structure of the partly painted brick walls and the lines on the floor. Too much to like, too little time. (Which pretty much sums up what photography is for me, mostly, but then, the opposite is also true). It’s enormously satisfying, magical even, seeing a failed picture transform into something that I like, into a completely different image, not by endlessly tweaking and fine-tuning, but by a few simple, well chosen editing operations.

J.B. Ingwersen. Former LTS, Jan van Breemenstraat, Amsterdam, built in 1967. Now: De School: club, bar, restaurant, gym, workshops. The colour picture has some 60% of an M2 colour profile, and the black and white is based on a BW 8 profile. Both cropped to squares (obviously).