Tag Archives: CocoRosie

For My Monochrome Love

My Adidas sneakers, my favorite dress, the Exile On Main Street album cover, the Ramones, the Kills, Robert Capa and Robert Frank, Anton Corbijn, Stephan Vanfleteren, Sieff, Avedon, C’est Arrivé Prèt De Chez Vous, Pi, Notorious, Casablanca, the covers to Ginsberg’s Howl and Kaddish, The Big Sleep, Double Indemnity,13 Tzameti…

– Black & white love –

When I first started as a photographer, I was a dedicated follower of black & white film. As a matter of fact, I only switched to digital and color 4 years ago. Besides the occasional holiday snap in full color, it was life in grainy monochrome during dark room filled days.

I found a job at a local music magazine pretty soon after I got my first SLR. Analogue, naturally. I remember being nervous about having to show my work to  the graphic designer, but my b&w image of Supergrass got me in. The next three years were spent in gritty clubs while trying to make the low light and “saturated, loosing all detail” paper the magazine was printed on work for me.  I tried out all sorts of film, before I finally settled on Kodak T-Max 3200 ASA, which was mainly due to having to shoot bands in dark clubs. I needed the sensitivity to light that came with that particular film. Fortunately, I loved the grain that came with it as well, it fitted my favorite subjects perfectly. I also preferred the roundish grain of Kodak to the flat/square grain of Fuji Neopan, and chose Kodak paper instead of Ilford as the blacks were more beautiful. The whites on Ilford were prettier, but ja, I never needed a whole lot of white.

I looked at every Charles Peterson image I could find, signed up for a course in American Film Noir at uni and subsequently watched 2 film noir movies a week, and attended lectures with black turtle neck wearing professors. Even after graduation, I stuck to black & white, photographing a dance company in Antwerp, Low in Paradiso or Anouk in Utrecht. When I had the opportunity to photograph CocoRosie a few years ago, I brought my SLR loaded with Fuji Neopan b&w film. Something had slowly changed though, as it was the first shoot to which I brought a digital camera as well. A tiny Sony Cybershot at that, obviously not a true convert yet:)

There’s something about black & white images that makes it modern and classical at the same time. I suppose it’s the ‘abstractification’ of reality that brings an excitement and tension with it that is different from what one achieves with color. As color falls away, your eye looks for other things to connect to; light, contrast, shape and composition. The monochrome also often gives a graphic design kind of feeling to images which I love.

Today, years after I showed my Supergrass photo to the designer, and after I switched to digital *and* color, I find myself extremely excited when I open the morning paper and see a two-page spread of photos that Stephan Vanfleteren took of Anton Corbijn. Two of my contemporary heroes in glorious grainy monochrome.

And now I know it’s true what they say, first love never dies.

  1. Tshepo Moche | Yesterday’s Still | The Posies | Tonik |
  2. DJ Akio | Bianca Cassady CocoRosie | Maarten | Donovan Copley 
  3. Nynke | Tshepo Moche | Maarten | Verity Price 
  4. Face Tomorrow | Tristan Waterkeyn | Black Rebel Motorcycle Club | Show Don’t Tell

The Fire That Never Happened

The last week of February is turning out to be a week of photography, uhm, decisions.  Artists Wanted announced the winners of their Year in Review competition this week. The big prize goes to artist duo Jennifer Catron and Paul Outlaw. Congratulations to them! They will be announcing about another dozen prizes later this week but I’m not holding my breath. If I remember correctly, Foto Festival Naarden will also be announcing the nominees. I am so keen to learn if I’ve been nominated… Fingers crossed y’all:)

The big thing for me though this week, was being able to show my portfolio to the picture editor of ELLE Magazine. I was very excited about it and quite nervous as well. The fact that the trains weren’t running on time at all didn’t help matters much. There had been a fire alarm earlier that morning for a fire that never happened. It sounds almost romantic, “the fire that never happened”.

Somehow, I managed to make it to Amsterdam 45 minutes early but that was cool. That way I could just walk through the city, get to where I had to be, get a coffee and relax in the winter sun.  After having been seriously and embarrassingly late for my first Swimming Upstream interview with photographer  Neil John Smith last year, I am determined to arrive to the scene early so I can wait for a bit and pitch up on time. And yes, I reported to the reception desk perfectly on time:) I was met by the editor in the hall way and we made our way, coffee in hand, to a little room just next to the staff room where we just chatted about the magazine and my photography. She asked me a bunch of questions, like what do I like to photograph etc.

And naturally, we went through my portfolio. I always feel a little awkward doing that, and probably either talk too much or too little. There was positive and negative criticism but it was always constructive and interesting. The photos of Strato and Hendrik Vermeulen that were taken for Swimming Upstream were clear favorites, together with a portrait of SA writer Catriona Ross and the father/daughter duo on the couch that I took in Muizies two years ago.

Another thing that was very interesting  was going through the new issue while looking at the photography specifically. There is a whole item about Dutch fashion photographers and ai, I need to brush up on my knowledge that’s for sure!

I can easily tell you all about Robert Capa and Robert Frank or about Stieglitz, Steichen, Avedon and Weston. Or about Anton Corbijn, Niels van Iperen, Stephan van Fleteren, Charles Peterson, Roger Ballen or Liam Lynch and Deborah Rossouw for that matter.  I can go on and on about what it is that  those photographers do that I admire and how they inspire me. Yet, I can hardly tell you anything about Dutch fashion photography. Sure, we’re good with light. And yes, naturally, there’s world-renowned and iconic photographer’s duo Inez van Lamsweerde and Vinoodh Matadin… I know about  Wendelien Daan, Viviane Sassen and Paul Bellaart but that’s about it. I’m sure I can come up with some more if I think about it, but ja,  I sure need to catch up on my knowledge of Dutch fashion photography. Fast.

The meeting ended after about 40 minutes or so and will be continued, I’ve been told:)

Oh and I like the video for new Dutch band Happy Camper. Happy Camper is more of a project than a band, I think. Musician Job Roggeveen asked 11 Dutch singers to come into the studio and sing his songs. The video they made for Born With A Bothered Mind is quite cute I thought.