Tag Archives: Kathalijne Van Zutphen

New Work: Diana

I am not sure how things changed, but change they did:) This whole year has been super busy and there is still lots more to do even though the year is drawing to a close fast. At the moment, I’m rounding off one shoot and preparing another one for later this week. The initial two week Instagram take over at the CX Company has morphed into me being one of their official Instagrammers. And, of course, there’s still the hunt for a new apartment.

As for new work, about three weeks ago, I was approached by Schrijf-Schrijf to shoot four different portraits of Diana. She was interviewed for the “KansenKrant” and they needed some accompanying photographs. I met up with her at her office in the Bijlmer, Amsterdam. The office was a little on the dark side simply due to the autumn weather, so we did most of the work outside in the parking lot.

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Listening to: Neil Young

New Work: Annual Report Maag Lever Darm Stichting

Two months ago, I was asked by Schrijf-Schrijf to take portraits for the annual report of the Maag Lever Darm Stichting (MLDS). The MLDS is an independent organisation that has been trying to prevent and fight stomach, colon and liver diseases as well to provide information and support for people dealing these diseases, for the past 30 years. In order to do so they have been raising funds and cooperating closely with researchers, the government, patients and volunteers.

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My job was to photograph 6 duo’s who were somehow related; a former cancer patient and his wife, two men from the Board of Trustees, someone who donates money together with someone who donates his time by going door-to-door collecting money, two researchers, et cetera. I met them at home, at the train station or at their place of work and in different cities across the Netherlands. Thanks for letting me borrow the car, mom:)

From left to right: two supporters who cycle the Zuiderzeeklassieker each year in order to raise funds, a donator and a volunteer, two members of the Board of Trustees

Single image: a former colon cancer patient and his main supporter, his lovely wife, photographed in their home.

Series of images, from left to right: two supporters who cycle the ‘Zuiderzeeklassieker’ each year in order to raise funds, a donator and a volunteer, two members of the Board of Trustees.

Listening to: Alex Turner and FFS

New Work: I’m where you are

A couple of months ago, a really good friend of mine came to visit the Netherlands together with his beautiful, and pregnant, wife. I had the pleasure of spending time with them and photographing them at his parents house. It’s been quite a few years since I did my last pregnancy shoot and this was only the 4th ever.

copyrightKathalijnevanZutphenIt’s so cool to see a friend again after both of us lived abroad for a couple of years and to see him now as a married man and parent-to-be.

I did not realize it at the time of the shoot, but things changed for me as well. The shoot brought me out of a photography funk and general career doubt. Less than two weeks later I started a new job; in a new line of work and in a new city. Change is apparently good as photography work has been flowing since as well:)

There was one thing in particular that stuck in my mind all through last year; somebody told me that trying to get somewhere in the photography business can feel like wading through heavy, sticky mud and you may get stuck for a while, but you’ll never reach the other side unless you continue. Well, that was pretty much my mantra for the entire year;)

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About a month after the shoot a beautiful baby girl was born. Good days, indeed:)

Listening to Shocking Blue, Black Hotels and Daryll-Ann

New Work: FCB Magazines

I was asked by an agency (Schrijf-Schrijf) to take portraits for 3 different RuimBaan-magazines from FCB. FCB Magazines are aimed at either professionals working in Child Services or parents who are dealing with Child Services for various reasons.

All 3 magazines have a similar series called ‘BaanBrekend” wherein a (different) professional is interviewed about their ground-breaking work. I had to shoot 3 different images per person. It was a really great job; the creative briefing allowed for a lot of freedom, plus I got to meet people who are doing something revolutionary in a very difficult field of work. Pretty cool:)

Levi van Dam, Claudia Doesburg, Veronika Nab

Examples of the 3 articles and the way the images are used

Examples of the 3 articles and the way the images are used

Listening to some old PJ Harvey and new Palace

SHUTR

I am currently featured in Dutch photography magazine ‘SHUTR’. Quite possibly the best welcome home present I have ever had:)

It’s a 10 page spread featuring 8 photo’s and an interview. In stores near you, go get one:)

ImageThe photos above were taken with a cell phone, the pics in the magazine look much better. Gelukkig:)

Stuff it

Seriously, all I want is my stuff back, finish a few projects and go home. Sounds simple, right? Especially the getting my stuff back part. Apparently it’s not.

I stored 4 prints and 10 A2 sized framed images at Museum Gallery in Cape Town at the end of 2010, with the promise to get them back when I was next in town.  I was part of their opening show ‘The New Landscape’ and had a good working relationship with them. I blogged about the show here. When I left CT,  I asked if I could store some of my work at the gallery while I was in Europe. They said yes, no problem. Fast forward 15 months. I am back. And I have been *trying* to get my work back since April 5th and obviously still haven’t got it.

First thing I did was to simply go to the gallery. There was no one there. In fact, half the gallery seems to have been closed. So I wrote an email instead, asking for an appointment to come fetch my prints & frames. I got a swift reply from the owner/manager saying that he was out of town, but that he would look for my prints and get back to me as soon as he returned to town. That’s cool. I did not hear from him again. So I sent another email. And another one and another one. And, in fact, another one. I phoned and left a voicemail message. Finally, an email reply. He was on holiday, but he would get back to me a.s.a.p. “Asap” again, eh? I am sensing a theme here.

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As to be expected, nothing happens. I phone again, I email again. I went down there again. We speak on the phone, again. I offer to come help look for the prints. “No no, you don’t want to be down there”. He will look for it, and will get back to me tomorrow morning, or this afternoon or whenever.

Anyway, you get the idea. There is always an excuse; he’s out of town, the electricity is out and he can’t see anything, they are taking down one exhibition and building the next, but once that’s done, sure ‘I’ll get to the archive’. Best of all was when he suggested it was my fault because it took me more than a year. What are we, in high school?

You are running a business, I made a deal with you guys that it was ok to store my stuff there, now I want it back. All you have to do is set up an appointment and keep your word. I am not your ex-girlfriend asking for an old t-shirt back. This is my work and frankly, returning it is your work.

Anyway, you get the idea. I am being strung along, given the run around, lied to. But, I still want my work back.
And this sucks.

Interview with award-winning South African photographer Jodi Bieber

I had the pleasure of interviewing South African photographer Jodi Bieber a while back. The interview was published on A Photo Editor and Visi Magazine.
Jodi Bieber (1966) is a South African photographer mostly known for her highly publicized portrait of Bibi Aisha; the young Afghan woman who had her nose and ears cut off by the Taliban after seeking rescue from her violent husband in her parent’s home. It was this photo that won Bieber the World Press Photo Award in 2011. She has won no less than 8 other World Press Photo Awards, as well numerous other prestigious awards such as first prize for the series “Real Beauty” in Picture of the Year International Competition and Winner of the Prix de l’Union Européene at the Rencontres de Bamako Biennale Africaine de la Photographie in 2009. Bieber is currently rounding off a hectic year of constant traveling, meeting people, being on juries and lots of public speaking. It is on this last leg of the World Press Photo exhibition, in Cape Town, that we find ourselves sitting in the gardens of the Castle of Good Hope. A place with a symbolic name as this is where Bieber is teaching a 3-day masterclass to 17 aspiring photographers organized by World Press Photo in cooperation with Iziko Museums.

How did you get into photography?
Jodi Bieber: I originally studied Marketing because an aptitude test said I would be good at studying Law. I couldn’t picture myself doing 7 years of studying and chose Marketing because it was only 4 years. While I was sitting with a friend during a lunch-break, a piece of paper fell into my lap. The piece of paper advertised photography courses at the Market Workshop in Johannesburg. And that is how I got into photography.

After completing several short courses at the Workshop, I did a three month internship at The Star under Ken Oosterbroek in 1993. My job as an intern was to develop everyone’s film and print their work. I still found time, though, to go out and shoot on my own and scored my first front page publication on the third day. I was invited to be part of a select group of 10 photographers for the World Press Photo Masterclass in Amsterdam in 1996. I’ve always done my own projects such as ‘Between Dogs and Wolves’, ‘Survivors’ and ‘Soweto’ but have also done work for Time Magazine and Médicines Sans Frontières.

Can you tell us something about the way you work? For example, how much directing do you do?
JB: When I go out on a shoot, I am there for hours. I exhaust my subjects. As far as shooting goes, I start with framing the photograph. I will tell the person I am photographing where I want to do it, but I will not tell someone how to pose. And in case there are two or more people being photographed, I will not tell them in which order to stand. I feel you can tell a lot about their relationship from where they chose to stand. Once I have framed the image I will direct, I will maybe ask someone to move a leg or hand.

I was never motivated by the money, I was motivated by photography. I chose my projects because a subject interested me. I came to ‘Real Beauty’ after seeing the Dove billboard which showed normal women as opposed to models and I thought that was amazing. Then I met a model soon after that, who told me a lot of dark secrets about the fashion industry, and that yes, for instance, she does have bags under her eyes but that will be photoshopped out. That made me curious about what real beauty is. When I started that project a lot of women were a little apprehensive at first, but I soon received phone calls from women asking to take part. And I accepted everyone.

You speak a lot about the importance of editing well. What makes a good editor to you?
JB: Editing is absolutely crucial. Everyone is a photographer these days and where you can make a difference is with interpretation. As a good editor you have to be true to yourself but not be too emotionally attached. If you let someone else edit your work, you have to make sure you put your point of view across well and work with someone you trust.

Where do you think a lot of photographers go wrong?
JB: They rush too much. You have to take the time to edit. Don’t add photos because you think you need a certain number of photos, less is definitely more. Create piles while you’re doing it; have a ‘Maybe’ pile, as well as an ‘In’ and ‘Out’ pile. If you have difficulty saying goodbye to your photos, then keep the ‘Out’ pile in your view so you feel like you can always go back to it. And do not do it on the computer.

And when you are building your portfolio it should be like music – made up of highs and lows but not weak.

You often find yourself in quite dangerous situations. How do you cope?
JB: I believe that my openness about what I am doing is my protection. I create relationships quickly, little circles of people around a bigger situation that may be dangerous.

You mentioned during the workshop that photographers bring themselves to the shoot as well. Where do we see you in your work?
JB: I don’t know, I am not the right person to ask. My choice of subject matter will probably tell you a lot. I also think that I am pretty direct and you can see that in my work as well but it is not “what you see is what you get”.

I once heard someone say that a profession is a vehicle for something deeper. Assuming that is true, what is it that you are searching for through your photography?
JB: Photography has been a vehicle to discover things I didn’t know before. When I go out shooting, I am learning something new. I am connecting with other people; and I feel a responsibility towards them.

Speaking of responsibility, there is the age old dilemma and debate, that photographers go into a situation and take something, prey on the weak while the gain nothing. How do you feel about that?
JB: I do feel responsible, and sometimes I do feel it is a bit unfair. You get your shot but the community will never benefit. That is a difficult thing.

I really do believe that it is important to be very clear about what it is you want and what the photo will be used for. If you leave out a detail just so you can get the photograph, that detail will come back to haunt you. And if someone has a problem with what you are trying to do, then simply don’t shoot them. I make sure that the people who do agree to take part in a project get one of the Artist Proof prints (ed: out of two) that I have. It is up to them to either hold on to the print or if they want, sell it. That is my way of giving them something back.

What has been your biggest challenge so far?
JB: Well, being a photographer is a lonely profession and you sacrifice one thing for another. All I ever did was photography and I am only just learning that there are thing like shoes, make-up (laughs).

After winning the World Press Photo, you must have led a very hectic and different life this year. What has been the biggest lesson?
JB: I have learned that photos speak very loudly. Not all and not all the time but when they do, then can create change. And I have learned that when you have a voice, you have to use it. Photographers can be very powerful.

What is next for you?
JB: I will be starting a new project and I have a big show coming up in Ulms, Germany.

Any last advice?
JB: Just go out and do it. You have to get out there and create the work, put in the hours, develop your own style. And don’t be where the pack is. Do your own thing. And, when you are about to take a picture of what I like to call ‘The Stare’, reconsider it.

Conversations with photographer Mike Hutchings

The World Press Photo exhibition had not been to Cape Town since 2007, but this year the city got lucky when the exhibition reached its final destination at the beginning of February. In order to celebrate this event, the World Press Photo organization hooked up with Iziko Cape Town Museums and together they organized a summer school, full of Masterclasses, lectures and panel discussions. As part of the program, award-winning photographer Mike Hutchings spoke about his work to a captivated audience. Mike Hutchings (London, 1963) is an established photo-journalist coming from South Africa. As a photo journalist, he also covers sporting events, and it was one of his powerful images taken at soccer World Cup in 2010 that won him first prize in the World Press Photo Sports Category (photo of Demy de Zeeuw being kicked in the face). Mike studied Social Anthropology at the University and began working as a freelance photographer after his graduation. He covered political unrest in South Africa during the 1980’s and as well as the release of Nelson Mandela in 1990, conflicts in the Democratic republic of Congo, Kenya, Madagascar and Zimbabwe as well as global sporting events such as the Olympics and the soccer World Cup. He became a photographer for Reuters in 1991.

Can you tell us something about how you got started and how you got involved with Reuters?
Mike Hutchings: The thing to remember with newspapers is, that it is not what you can do, but what you can do for them. I had been taking pictures for a number of years and the people at Reuters knew my work. You also need a dose a luck, of being in the right place at the right time, you need to build connections. I used to work for UPI (United Press International) which was bought by Reuters.

I believe that it is important for photographers to talk to other photographers; sometimes your work doesn’t translate as well as you think it does, talk to others, listen to opinions – you need honest and constructive criticism. My support came from advice from friends, various people like Leon Muller, Garth Stead, Eric Miller. It is stimulating talking to other photographers. Cape Town photographers are not a cut-throat breed, it is not that difficult to connect to fellow photographers.
What is your role with Reuters now?
MH: It is a fine balance between working with stringers across Africa, organizing all that, and actually going out taking pictures.Can you explain what “stringers” are?
MH: Stringers are freelancers or contributors that we work with occasionally or on a more steady basis. There are quite a few big stories in Southern Africa right now, such as obviously the World Cup in 2010, but also Mandela himself, political disasters such as in Zimbabwe or natural disasters such as in Mozambique. Sometimes Reuters can not send someone into a situation and that’s when we use stringers. Which is different from sending in someone from Reuters itself, where someone comes into a situation, does what he is supposed to do and leaves as soon as he’s finished. Those photographers are also known as “firemen”. Stringers are locals and they can access a story differently which can be an important difference in how you cover a news story or event.Do you own the copyright for the work you do for Reuters?
MH: No, Reuters owns it. One-sided contracts can be a problem, but I find working with Reuters very satisfactory. There are different contracts for the stringers as they get a commission when the photo gets sold and that is quite unique is the world of photo-journalism.

What can you tell us about the standard of photography of photographers in Africa?
MH: Well, that’s where it gets complicated. There is a huge range of skills here. In Kenya, for example, there is a really high level of skills unlike that in, for example, Angola. We were very happy to see that one of are stringers, Feisal Omar, in Mogadishu also won a World Press Photo (ed: Omar won first prize in Daily Life Singles) We have 5 stringers in Somalia. I was the editor of that certain photograph. As an editor you are responsible for fact checking (Reuters is very strict about accuracy), writing captions and occasionally cropping.

Fact checking can be a difficult thing in certain countries or situations, and you want to make sure all the facts are correct. Sometimes someone or an NGO sends in a photograph and it they often have their own agenda. So what you do as an editor is ask the photographer specific questions, check the Internet, discern between gossip, conjecture and facts.
How much post-processing do you do?
MH: I am not a fan of over-using Photoshop as you can reach vastly different results. I try to limit Photoshop to less than what I would do in a dark-room. I do crop slightly, mind you in Sports photography you have to crop as you are to far way and you are shooting for the crop. I used a 400 mm fixed lens on the winning photo. Using Photoshop can cause too many problems too easily as you are putting something into an image that you didn’t see. And as a news agency or photo-journalist you want the public to be able to rely on your honesty and not have it question if what you publish is the truth.How do you keep the resolution?
MH: You can sharpen, but you can only go so far before it looks stupid. The image has to be sharp before you start post-processing. As a sports photographer you can not shoot in RAW as it is too slow. Although a magazine like ‘Sports Illustrated’ does work with both RAW and Jpegs. But with newspaper work you have to be faster as the turn-over is faster. It is uploaded into a remote editing systems where the editor will pull it out. The photo of Demy De Zeeuw for example was part of a sequence, and I didn’t see the photo until 3 hours after.Shooting sporting events means you need to be “ready” all the time.If you can actually see the photo through your lens, you are too late. But you don’t want to just push your finger down either. I guess you just follow an instinct for where the action is going to be, you learn to anticipate the moment.

There are things you can do, naturally. You need to be technically ready. I preset the exposure, but not the focus as I’d like to be adaptable that way. I bring several bodies and a variety of lenses depending on what kind of sports I’m covering. For boxing, you need a shorter lens than you do for soccer. Some photographers will use a wireless remote while they shoot; they set up a camera behind the goal for example while they stand somewhere else. I prefer not to shoot that way, but you never know what you are getting exactly. You only know exactly what you’re getting when shooting with light-boxes in a very static shoot.
Can you tell us something about how you view photography on the digital high way?
MH: It has gotten a lot easier now. Before you were shooting 36 frames on film that had to be developed, printed, scanned. Photographers were shooting less. Nowadays people sometimes shoot 1,000 frames. With the number of frames photographers take these days, you just need to edit more. I think that photographers were more critical about what they shot as there was a limited amount of film and were therefore possibly more instinctive. The cameras have also gotten bigger which can be a disadvantage especially in social documentary. Shoving a huge camera in somebody’s face can be very intimidating and it puts something between you and your subject. There are ways around that though, it just means you have to engage with your subject more. But I find that good photographers will always engage a lot.You mentioned that Cape Town photographers are not a cut-throat breed. Can you tell us a little about the competitiveness in photo-journalism?
MH: I have always backed away from it, but you sometimes see it in others. There is a lot of heightened tension that comes with this profession, but photo-journalists realize that if you can’t vent verbally and get over it in 5 minutes, you are in the wrong business. We also have to rely on each other in dangerous situations.Do you think that “something” has been lost with digital photography, meaning it has become less physical, less tangible?
MH: I don’t really think so, a photograph maybe changing as an entity, but you still have all your files.

Any advice to photographers?
MH: Back up your files at least twice on external hard drives and keep them in separate places.

Jamal Thomas Band

I was very fortunate to be asked to do a photo shoot with the Jamal Thomas Band a little while ago. Jamal Thomas (1954, U.S.A.) is a drummer who has shared the stage with  Maurice White (Earth, Wind & Fire), The S.O.S band and to this day still tours with Maceo Parker.

In 2009 Jamal met the young talented drummer Alex Bernath and decided to form the Jamal Thomas band.

For more information about the band visit their website http://www.jamalthomas.com