In the summer of 2008 I was approached by the editor of DC Photo Magazine, a Hong Kong based monthly photo glossy, who had appreciated some of my pictures on flickr. In the September issue the ensuing interview was published. At the same time eight of my photographs were chosen to take part in a Hong Kong group exhibition, titled "VISUAL LITERACY: PICTORIALISM, the art of image"
The following is an excerpt of the above mentioned interview:
As film was your profession before, what made you turn to photography?
I must make perfectly clear that I am not a professional photographer. I have been an avid amateur photographer since I was 19 years old and I still consider myself as such. My years as a film/television programmer and film critic have of course given me ample experience in looking, evaluating and hopefully seeing as well, which to the best of my ability I try to make use of in my photography.
Why did you start photography? What does photography mean to you?
Both my grandfather (a stage and industrial designer), my uncle (a fine artist) and my mother (a housewife) were accomplished photographers. I always loved looking through their albums. I remember perfectly how I borrowed a camera for the first time in my life in the summer of 1970 and shot a roll of film in the Amsterdam Vondelpark. It felt like coming home, photography was the natural medium for me. I still have the negatives of that first roll and it is remarkable to see how elements like angle, perspective and others that I like to explore are already apparent in those early shots!
Photography for me means two things. The first thing is to record the things and events around me I find remarkable, worth remembering. I chose the pseudonym docman (=documentary/documentation man) for that reason. And so I shoot things that strike me as interesting while I commute (per bicycle), while I garden, while I travel, etc.
The second thing about photography for me is the fact it gives me the opportunity to explore my surroundings, to see the familiar in a new light, to highlight aspects of reality that are usually not seen, in other words to find the new in the old, the special in the ordinary, the abstract in the concrete reality. It is here, I think, that my fascination for pattern and rhythm is most apparent.
There is a lot of pattern and rhythm in our daily life, how do you choose the objects you want to shoot?
I find many shots in the exploration of ordinary materials. I like the feel and look of metal, wood and glass for instance, especially when it gets older and in different stages of decay. But I also look for pattern and rhythm in the angles from which I view my surroundings and in the light that can completely change your perception of an object. I usually dont stage my shots and just try to record what I find.
Some of your photographs look like graphics more than photographs, are you trying to declining the feeling of photography?
An interesting observation but no, my photographs are photographs. It is true, however, that sometimes the original, well known shape of ordinary objects gets lost in my fascination for its inner structure and texture. The same goes for the way shapes change when you play around with unconventional angles or points of view. After all that is where I find the patterns and rhythms we are talking about. So I show that the abstract is right there in the concrete world. For me, though, they still feel very much like photographs!
The photos that you took are very colorful, have you done any manipulation after taking the photos?
No, apart from cropping them to my liking I do very little manipulating. Of course, if necessary I do a little playing around with contrast and brightness or accentuating a color but I try to keep it to a minimum. My guiding line in this is that I should be able to still see and feel the object as I saw it with the naked eye.
What do you think of image manipulation by computer? Do you agree or not?
As I said I try to keep it to a minimum but that is a personal choice based on my own form of using the medium. In fact, I have nothing principally against using the computer as a dark room. After all, isn't that the role the computer plays these days?
Some of your photos on flickr were made by family members, did they inspire you to take on photography?
If you mean was I inspired by the photographs taken by my mother and grandfather? I must answer yes, certainly inspired. I love my grandfathers loving 1916-1918 pictures of my mother as a baby (to see these pictures, go to 'links'), for which he used an awkward, heavy camera as if he was taking snapshots with a (then non existent) lightweight point and shoot camera. And I adore my mother's still-lives and the way she captured moods and 'the moment' in the wonderfully composed recordings of her family's life (to see these pictures, go to 'links'). So I like to honor both of them by showing some of their pictures on flickr.com where they get audience and reactions neither of them would have ever imagined.