Monthly Archives: January 2011

artists wanted

I entered another photo competition just now. It’s called Artists Wanted  and one has a chance at $10,000 in grants, international publicity and a feature exhibition in Scope Art Show during Armory Week in New York City.

the competition closes on January 28th. It would be very cool if you voted. And thank you:-)

messy ramblings and the death of all the romance

 Fuck – I can say that right? seeing how this is my blog? – well fuck:) My mind’s a mess. A distracted, unfocused, bordering on happy, mess. Everything I do, read or see makes me want to do something else. There is one overwhelming desire and in order to make that happen my mind is open to every thought, from every angle. If I can’t think of it myself, ideas handed to me by friends are just as interesting and appealing. Right now every thought, every conversation, every email makes want to check out something else. Desire, need, possibility.

I submitted my work to Foto Festival Naarden yesterday. I ended up choosing three images that I think are basically stand alone images yet work as a series as well, with the right explanation to go with it. The images are of Hendrik Vermeulen, Tshepo Moche and Tristan Waterkeyn. The theme of these photos is a sub theme of Swimming Upstream (I just made that up but it works) being “pressure to succeed”, be it professional, social or psychological pressure.

Tshepo. I should edit more images from the shoot we did. Same for Hendrik. Haven’t done a shoot in ages. I should set some up. Oh right, I still have to reply to that one email. And write those publishers, one in England, two in the NL. It reminds of that sailing trip. Should edit those as well.

Back to FFN. The other 3 images I had chosen were a different one of Hendrik Vermeulen, Monishia Schoeman and Donovan Copley. They looked quite good together and more cohesive in a way, but on the other hand I felt the images were more about their profession, location and inspiration than the more emotional charge the first three had. Plus, and that was the decisive argument for me, they were so obviously not taken in the NL and I didn’t want to be thrown out of the competition on first viewing. The theme of ‘Portraits’ was heavily influenced by the Dutch masters such as Vermeer, Rembrandt etc and I am not entirely sure how Dutch everything should be. The first three were taken in SA and my subjects are all (South) African yet there is something Dutch about the use of light. Dutch Light. Remember the documentary ‘Hollands Licht’ by Maarten en Pieter-Rim de Kroon?… hey, that could be the subject of my research paper “Dutch Light overseas”.

Wait. Research paper? Weren’t we talking about FFN? Yes, we were. And this is why I said fuck in the beginning…

A few friends sent through links to useful websites (thanks Katinka, Mathijs, Lieve and Femke. Please keep them coming:)) and I check each and everyone, excitedly. I flick through them fast, finding it hard to focus and distracted as always by the sub story, odd detail or story and how to make it work for me.

One of the links was for SIP (Sphilman Institute of Photography) who are putting out general calls for submission to research proposals for photography projects. Crap sentence… Point is, there are $5,000 and $10,000 grants to be won. All you have to do is write a research paper on anything “photography”. I could totally write about Dutch Light in contemporary photography. Or Dutch Light found abroad. Is it a cultural thing or a skill that we take with us as we travel ? Or is it a geographical thing? Then why is there a hint of Dutch Light in my portraits taken in SA?

South Africa. Swimming Upstream. I should re-write all the interviews into a more general and coherent article in order to make it more interesting for magazines here in the NL. Magazines. I should get back in touch with Andy from Mahala. It would be a waste to let a possibility die like that. Possibilities. I have to follow up on the phone conversations I had with photo agencies Infidels and Shine. (Done while blogging) Oh and I should check the Shapeshifters site again. Sites. Right. I should register on Randstad (Dutch temp agency) and find a job. And update my LinkedIn profile. Look for those groups people tell me about.

Images from my project flash across my mind’s eye in the mean time. Locations, atmosphere. Now that reminds me of the Bouw in Beeld prijs. This year’s theme is “Playground”. Can’t I find a way to fit the Donovan Copley, Monishia Schoeman, Hendrik Vermeulen pictures into their rules? And the Lauren Fowler one? Lauren Fowler. W.I.C. Word of Art. Berlin. Wasn’t there a call for artists on the transartists site in Berlin? I type in and flick through their site quickly. Wait… what? Cape Town.

As I read the words Cape Town my heart jumps to another beat straight away. I am seriously missing my Cape Town life & friends. I’m pretty much thinking non stop of all the cool people in CT I still want to photograph or chat to, stuff I want to do see and do there. I see myself doing it all. But it brings me right back to reality here as I need money to get me to CT. Money. Work. Ah. Remember to write to so and so. Send out quote. Keep logging hours. Make appointments. Register on Randstad. But what about re-writing your interviews? Anything to get me back where I want to be. Be where I want to be.

I am not a mess. I should just focus. Joy was right, lists are the way to. Put pen to paper and just work your way down that lists. Ah. Lists. Ass kicking last year. Joy. Capri. Makes me think of all sorts of things:) See my problem? How could I possibly fit in a 9-5 job? 🙂

I hate all the music they’re playing on Kink today… Fergie and Slash? *cringe*, makes my teeth fall out. Saybia? Yawn. Not my favorite video but a beautiful song by The Dears from a couple of years ago and awesome title… worth stealing:)

Dazzled kid, pigs and pics

In an attempt to change my attitude and be a little bit happier, oh and because it actually may be fun, I decided to enter some images into a photo competition. Two competitions even… I have only done this once before and never even heard back. Oh well.. new days and all that. The theme of the one festival, Foto Festival Naarden, is ‘Portraits’ which, yay, is right up my alley. It is what I do after all. Should be easy enough to find something good enough to enter… I look for the Rules & Regulations.
“All photos must be taken between January 2009 and January 2011.” No problem. One can submit 1-5 images. Also not a problem. When submitting a series, the photos must form an “unbreakable unit”. Oh. I don’t do series that well. Stand alone images are more my forte than series but then again Swimming Upstream is my attempt at a series so I should be able to find something. I read on… Sub Themes… Oh #2… there are 8 of them but ai, there isn’t that much choice at all for me as I hardly fit any of the themes. In fact, I only fit one.
 The sub themes are Bare Essence (nudes), Famous Heads (your own visual interpretation of someone famous), Just Me (selfies), Second Skin (people in uniforms), Photoshop Mania (go PS wild), Polaroid vs SmartPhone, Studentenwerk (whatever you are working on at Art School) or On Going Project.
That only leaves one category for me, as I don’t have any nudes, I have famous people or well-known people but they aren’t Dutch, I don’t like doing self portraits and therefore have non, I use Photoshop but don’t go wild which could be a reason to enter into this category as I could be part of the low-end of the Photoshop spectrum but I am assuming there are looking for all out photoshopped images. Then there is the Polaroid vs Smartphone one well ugh… I like the idea of an established photo festival trying to incorporate smartphones etc but well… I don’t have a smart phone or a Polaroid so that possibility is out as well. I am not at the Academy of Art nor have I ever been at the Academy of Art which leaves On Going project as the only possible category.
 Cool. On Going Project it is then. It’s what Swimming Upstream is and hey, maybe it’s not a bad thing to only fit into one category. Kinda how things are for me anyway. I want this, not that etc…
Back to Rules & Regulations. Besides fitting into any of the categories one must either be a student at an established School of Art, belong to a professional photographer’s association (I don’t but could join one today and enter the competition tomorrow), belong to a photo agency (aaah Duncan? Help:-) uhmmm ok I belong to World Portraits and will be included in The Imaginarium’s database), be able to name a professional reference (wtf.. what does that even mean? I’m sure I can?), won stipends or grants etc (nope) and/or have exhibited one’s work… phiew… finally YES. Cool.
What’s next? Ah… 35 euros entrance fee. For someone as broke as I am 35 euros may as well be 3,500 euros as zero money is zero money but oh well it can’t be that I can’t do this over some silly entrance fee so I’ll make it work. Somehow.
Now this turns out to be a really nice bridge to my next uhm… “dilemma”. The friend’s mother I mentioned in September Girls sent me an email looking for some images and is willing to pay for them, however, she is not looking to buy a printed and framed photo but a high res image and wonders what would it cost. Good question and great, except that it feels very wrong to ask her for money. It feels wrong for a couple of reasons. If she was buying a physical product where there are actual costs involved it is easier to charge money. Let’s say she does want to buy a framed image, then I’d have something to hand over to her and that she could put on the wall. Now it is simply sending an email on my side and she still has to drive to town to get something printed and framed and all costs are on her side. The other thing is, that my friend has been a huge help in my project and well, a friend. Charging his mother just feels wrong. And my final thing is, seeing how I don’t have an SA bank account but a Dutch one most of the money would get lost in international transfer fees. Guess the answer would be to charge her 35 euros… but the transfer fees are more than that… Ugh.
Any suggestions, ass kickings or any comments of the “stop whining” or “get your butt into gear” are welcome:-)
I am now going to come up with a selection to send in…Have a vague idea of which ones but not sure at all yet.  It’s going to be a “kill your darlings kind of day” I’m sure…
Listening to Suarez (easy French folk pop), Dazzled Kid and White Lies. And still backing up files of the last 6 months. Have cleared out 38 gigs so far… Also have to go to a temp agency today…
Oh and the photos: top is Tristan Waterkeyn, then Tshepo Moche and bottom one S.A. Partridge and Timothy Lester. About time to do some new shoots:-)

September girls

 I emerged from the underground garage into the pissing rain in Utrecht. Great. I am tired of the rain but hell, off to my meeting it is. On my bicycle. In the rain. It’s not that bad actually, as I like riding my bike. I make my way through a wet, dirty and extremely grey Utrecht along with dozens of others. They freak me out coming from all corners and ever so close to you. I arrive all wet and cold at the meeting place. Hot coffee’s waiting though. Awesome.
The meeting is cool and it’s the first meeting since I have been home that makes me feel excited about things. It’s cool to hear that someone on this side thinks the project has relevance. I almost feel like in CT, like “yeah, let’s just try, let’s network, let’s go for it”. I get excited about possible collaborations and think, hey maybe Overtone or the Network should get involved too. They could do X,Y and Z while we do this and that on our side. It’s a nice feeling. I don’t care that nothing’s definite or planned. I just like the feeling of possibility.
The market is changing in the NL (as everywhere) and one can’t afford to sit around and wait for clients to come to you with jobs. Clients don’t want to spend money on design right now. You either have to just do as they say without being too stubborn or arty or face a difficult time while they go to your competitor. If you want to do something cool and creative you *have* to get yourself out there. File sharing and free downloads, trading or giving work away while making money some other way is the way forward. Collaborate. Get yourself known. Do. And damn, if it doesn’t sound familiar to me:-) Cool. And it’s a good feeling too.
Some people immediately ask “What has been agreed upon? What are your plans? What are doing with your time?” Like everything is a failure until there is a buck in your wallet. I disagree. I usually bite my tongue. I realize that playing schtumm isn’t really helping anything but for now I’d rather shut up. I simply don’t have a lot of answers yet. Maybe it would be a very good idea to spend some time somewhere on my own with a laptop, camera, some music and wine. And then just think. I need time to think. Actually, not “time” but “space”. Space to find out what I’ll do next. To properly *think*. I used to laugh at my flatmate when I asked what are you doing and he answered “thinking”. I don’t any more.
A friend’s parents came with to the exhibition in November and his mom approached me. We chatted for a bit and she told me she admires and worries as her son, myself and so many people present choose such difficult area’s to work in. How hard it is making a living and a space for yourself but that she likes it too and would like to support me somehow. I thought that was sweet. 
Back to feeling excited about the meeting yesterday afternoon. I decided to start looking at my time in the NL as a project as well. Who can I meet, what can I do, how can I get funding and most of all, how can I get to be where I want to be? I’m still in mid-air so to speak but while I am trying to land on my feet, doing all this boring admin stuff, backing up all of last year’s shoots and cleaning out my computer, I better make the most of the view and start trying. I can’t keep writing boring, whiney blog post for that much longer anyway:-)
Silly randoms #1: Dutch woman are *tall*, more men wear very nice shoes and coats, stroopwafels are awesome.
The top photo is a Dutch singer called Lella Fathia, the other girl in Julia Merrett from Miss Texas 19977. Both photographed by me. Oh and the title comes from a Big Star song “September Girls”…

Down by the Riverside – 41/820

I, apparently, should work harder. I spent most of last week doing admin and logging all the hours I spent on my business last year and I could account for 820 hours.
Those hours include doing shoots (obviously), editing photos, writing and editing interviews, writing press releases and invitations, blogging, networking via email and social networks, business meetings, admin hours, updating and maintaining my websites and doing research on copyright laws in the NL and SA. And that’s it, I think.
Those hours don’t include time spent traveling (50 hours on planes alone) to and from jobs, going to gallery openings, phone calls and browsing the net or books for inspiration. I split the time when business meetings moved into social meetings. So without any creative book-keeping I got to 820 hours. The thing is that if one spends 1,255 hours on one’s own business you can get great tax breaks and refunds but, and here’s the real catch, those tax breaks only apply to the profit you made but hey I made non so it actually doesn’t even matter…
I worked for 41 weeks out of 52. I had visitors over for 5 weeks during which I did work a little but then again I logged 4 sick days so they level each other out, was out of it for 2 weeks due to an operation, spent 4 weeks abroad in Namibia and the Netherlands.
When I worked at the design office we worked 8 hour days but only had to properly book 5 hours a day on projects. Out of those 8 hours about 1.5 were spent on lunch and coffee, it was fine to book an hour a day browsing the net or looking at magazines and books for inspiration without being able to book it on a project which comes down to about 5.5 hours a day. So I pretty much worked about the same  and traded an income, social security, an apartment and “stuff” for what? For experience. And even if I feel like I have to justify what I did in the past year, I wouldn’t trade it for the world. In fact, I’m going back for seconds:-)
820 hours…. 41 weeks of work. I have to do more. I will do more. And it will be awesome. Can’t wait:-)
Listening to  ‘L’Oncle Soul’ by French musician Ben. He covers ‘Seven Nation Army’ by the White Stripes… sacrilege? Oh well…  I still love this song by Danish singer Agnes Obel…

Stones ooohhh

just because it’s stuck in my head and making me smile and dance

What more reasons do you need? 🙂

Sugar Mountain – I wish to be

Seeing my friends and family again is truly wonderul and I realize I missed them more than I thought. As for the rest? I really am trying to see the positive side about being back in the NL. I am trying to see it all as part of the big project. That having to go back home broke is also part of Swimming Upstream, just like trying to get a refund for your seriously broken and ruined frames, or trying to get published, paid or an agent.  I try to ignore the depressing darkness and do useful things with my time while I figure out where to go next.
So in week one, I applied for an editor’s position (even if I don’t get it, updating my CV and thinking about hourly rates etc must be useful), have updated my own website with tons of new work, set up meetings, wrote emails in advance that I can send out as soon as Cape Town gets back to work after the 16th and have been doing loads and loads of admin for the past 3 days. I’ve sent stuff to my accountant, medical insurance and travel insurance. All very .. uhm.. useful stuff. And useful is good, right? Useful is what you should do, what is necessary or expected. But ai, what if useful is not contributing anything to your soul’s well being? 
For you see, with my mild ‘Himmelhoch jauchzend, zum Toden betrübt’ and according to some mild ADHD ( cough Joy cough) disposition, doing just what is ever so useful or expected just makes me wake up early, feel worried and I am easily moved to tears without ever really crying. Maybe I should. I hold on to the idea that there must be some good in spending time here like sorting out admin, spending time with my family and friends, networking on this side and that maybe, hopefully, there will be an idea or job in there somewhere. And I also know that it is good to sort stuff out properly, be responsible and adult about things and that not earning any money for more than one year is *not* the way to go so yes, something must change. I know what I want and as usual I am pretty inflexible about changing that which I personally think is a good thing:-)
Besides how hard can it be right? If you can visualize or verbalize it you are able to get there or some other appropriate dogma.
So there we go once more. I want to go back to SA for approx 6 months and finish my project properly by throwing those events with Instant Grass/Overtone and others, by taking Duncan up on his offer to teach me all about video making and *make* those music videos, and by getting in with some of the agencies and get paid jobs for cool (music or travel) magazines, get my project published and get more paid jobs. Then with the money I earned, I want to go travel across southern Africa: Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Botswana and hell why not add Malawi to the mix while I’m at it?
Really, how hard can it be?
the photo is of Lauren Fowler. I took it a while back in Kalk Bay. As for the video, it’s an oldie by Neil Young. I love Neil Young. Seriously. And there’s something sweet and naive about this song that i have always loved. I also want to live on Sugar Mountain, with the barkers and colored balloons:-)
Happy new year everyone! x