Coffee in the old city of Jerusalem, Sore feet, and defining your why...

Like I promised…

My feet are still tired… Writing this laying on my couch rolled up like a hamster ready for bed. Banging out this blog post that I have promised to you all.

But you have to forgive me. A lot has happened since I got back home. You know… Life… And all of it happened at the same time. Even squeezed in a couple of shoots and one of them was a lomography one.

But it is all for the greater good. Telling stories!

Heading straight for the coffee…

The time has come. Finally working again on my long term project “Neshama Sheli“. I was so happy yo be on the plane again.

As soon as I arrived I could not help myself my friend Issam. He has the best coffee house in the entire of country. I totally forgot it was Friday and that he is closed on Fridays. The stroopwafels I have brought him had to wait a day extra…

So that meant walking around Jerusalem until my feet hurt. That last part happened for sure since I walked 62KM in the first couple of days!

That does not seem much spread over a amount of time. But with all the hills up and down it was actually quite the walk.

Before I forget…

Since the reason why you have stumbled upon my blog probably is photography. Some of you might think it is interesting what stuff I have brought.

Well… That is easy. Not much…

Two bodies. One analog, one digital. The analog a Nikon FM2n. The digital, a Nikon D810.

I always prefer analog but sometimes digital is more practical.

Film, I bought that when I got there. The whole reason is that it is more practical and is also part of my research. The downside of that is that you have to do with what you find. I have found a lot of Kodak. That is not bad. I am a Ilford guy when it comes to Black and White. But I will never complain if Kodak Tri-X is the one that is available. And who cares in the end anyway. They both rule.

Oh, and only three lenses. Two 35mm’s. One Sigma Art for the D810. And a Nikon 35mm Nikon F1.8 ai. Also my Carl Zeiss 50mm.

This keeps it small. And even got room in my day pack for underpants and protein bars.

And in my opinion. If you can’t do it with one lens you need to be more proficient.

But enough about gear. It really is not important. It just does not need to break down and that is it. That does not mean I don’t love a beautiful camera. But getting your hours in and the reason why is way more important.

My why…

The first what I thought when I got back home was: Now I understand! Not the situation, but more the whole reason why some of my photographic heroes were working on a project for like ten years or something.

I guess that is also the whole reason why you “why” is so important. The “why“ is always important. Just to keep that perseverance to keep rocking when all your chips are down. Even Simon Sinek wrote his best selling book about that subject.

I do this because of: And fill in the blanks...

I frees my mind…

It gives my emotions a place…

I love him or her…

It gives me inner peace…

It is easy to do things when they are fun. But if you are in in for the long haul… Your “why” better be a good damn good one.

You still haven’t told me yours…

One of my favorite poets (Rumi) has a quote: “Let yourself be silently drawn by the strange pull of what you really love. It will not lead you astray” .

If you are following me for a while you know I do everything by gut feeling. But there is also a explainable part of this all…

Despite I am a social creature it also feels for me I am a little bit of an odd one. And fitting in is not really my thing, nor I feel I have ever did. I really don’t like stuff a lot of “normal“ people like. And I have the strangest urge to make sense out of that strange journey that is called life. If that makes any kind of sense at all…

So if I want to makes sense to any of it why not go to the region that is the origin of the three big modern religions… And so I did three years a go. It seemed like a good place to start.

Photography in the end is a search within yourself…

I never expected during the first time I went there it would become plenty of more times. Every country that I come I fall in love with. But somehow, this place…

The first time I stood in front of the western wall I even cried a little. And I am not even Jewish. I am as Dutch as I can be.

But also the Dome of the rock quiet down my ever going monkey mind. And the church of the holy sepulcher had certain calm.

So many stories… So many people… All of them with a why…

But there is more…

No worries… My passion of explaining things goes beyond Israel and the Palestinian territories. I want to see the whole world. And I have gotten quite far already.

The drive is bigger…

The world is an amazing place. And we can learn so much from each other. If we somehow get those stories across imagine where we can be! Colombia, Japan, Indonesia! It is all still on the list.

So many people to talk to… So much things to learn… And ergo, so many stories to tell…

I use photography as my medium.

So that is sort of my “why“…

Things I ran into…

It is so super interesting how being social differs from place to place all across the globe. The whole plan was to talk to as many people as possible instead of just doing random street photography. Because street photography alone just doesn’t cut it.

It is cool to do. Of course! But if you want to give your work more depth talking to people is the only way.

Well… That part is easier said than done. There are of course plenty of people. But in comparison to for example Vietnam or India, or Iran it was a bit more difficult to start a casual conversation. I had to work for it… In other countries people somehow automatically come to me. But in Jerusalem it was more like home. Other areas were more easy.

But was I satisfied when I got back home? Not not really… But like I said earlier… Now I understand why things take so long!

Not that I have not met some beautiful people. I did! If some of you will read the blog you know who you are.

The story continues…

I focused mainly around Jerusalem and Bethlehem again. This mainly because my train of thought was because of it was just after pesach (passover), Ramadan started, and memorial day was also happening. And most of the stories were hopefully developing around those places. Plus it is just a nice place to be and Jerusalem is centrally located to everywhere you want to go.

But I think next time I will roam around a bite more. Or rent a car or something.. I don’t know. That is stuff for future Cris.

Aida and Dheisheh refugee camp…

I was here last time too. And I could of course not be in the neighborhood without saying hello to my friend, Omar. He lives in the Dheisheh refugee camp and is an artist and musician.

I went though the same checkpoint as last year. The same one where I have written about last year (link here).

It has changed… A lot!

Checkpoint 300. Instead of going though a regular gate there is a building now where you have to go through. Still turnstiles. Still the cattle like exit. And still the annoying cab drivers in the end.

We chatted a lot. About life, love, girls, music… His car that he had to turn in because it was illegal. That story was a bit funny. Sorry man haha…

It is so interesting how much our lives differ and in so much aspects are so the same. For him the water truck comes once every thirty days if he is lucky… I can just open the tap. But still, we both like waffles and are afraid of spiders.

He also told me he started working out. Better have some gainz next time I am there bro!

At the graveyard…

Apparently we are not only afraid of spiders… He wanted to show a martyrs graveyard. And like the name says, it is a graveyard where the local martyrs are being buried.

We had to be quiet because there was a young woman mourning. Here brother was killed not that long ago. And every day she was there because she missed him a lot. This was one of the moments you have to put your camera away and just let someone be…

We wanted to give our tired feet some rest so we sat down on a bench, but a humongous queen bee suddenly showed up and we both yelled like little girls and ran off. That beast was enormous!

After we came to a safe distance we pretended the bee had nothing on. Like the young cool kids do…

Memorial Day…

My blog post has no structure at all this time. But hey… what can you do!

A couple of days later it was memorial day… There are quite some similarities with the memorial day we have in the Netherlands. We just have one siren and stay quiet for two minutes to remember the atrocities of the second world war, and the fallen since then. In Israel you have two sirens. Because it literally is a day. First one was the preceding evening at 20:00 and the second one at 11:00 in the morning…

The entire city and country stops what they are doing.

This was also one of my moments of getting back to reality. If you stay somewhere for a while things start to get normal.

My lasagna theory…

Earlier that week about 250+ rockets were fired from the Gaza strip, and it wasn’t on my mind already.

I dubbed this my lasagna theory. I like lasagna a lot! But if you every day it starts to get normal and it is not special anymore. You get used to it…

From my own country I am used to stop the car or motorbike on the side of the road and everyone is most of the time respectful… And what I do is I try to remember the people that are important to me that are no longer here. And say thank you.

It was this moment where you realize that I was in an area where not everyone could get along. Of course the Israeli - Palestinian conflict is still active and that’s the reason not everyone participated in the moment of silence. You can probably can guess the reason why.

It was a teaching moment for myself and made me more curious. Is it ever going to end? Will they ever get along? Will there ever be an end to the conflict? And what can we learn from all of this in the rest of the world?

But what now…

By now it is already three days later since I have started writing… The rain has started falling down. Thunder is coming. And there are plenty strips of film waiting for me to be printed… And the official project page needs to be updated. All the editing…

Believe me. I have plenty of anecdotes.

But writing long blog posts always leaves me with more questions. And I will write more on a later moment.

All I know is I had a great and interesting time again. And I have met some beautiful souls along the way. Bracha, Issam, they woman from television in Japan, Omar, Jared. The dudes from Japan. And all the other people I spoke to. Thanks for everything.

Jerusalem. I hope to see you soon again… You give me a home away from home…

Neshama Sheli. You are indeed important to me. You are a part of my soul…

One last thing…

One last thing that remains… Is figuring out what the band was I was dancing to at the Mahane Yehuda market in the evening… “Feel it in my brain“ and plenty of others songs. I danced my ass off! So if anyone has a clue… Please let me know! That song made me happy. :)

- Cristian

Guest article for the Ilford website: "My 35mm time machine..."

Hey all of you my faithful blog readers!

And of course anyone who stumbled upon my website by accident…

I just returned…

I have just returned from Israel and the Palestinian territories. Made a shitload of photographs. But more on that later! I promise!

For now…

I wrote a little piece of literature for Ilford Photo!

That alone makes me really excited and all giddy inside.

Go check it out over here!

It is about my journey into the analog word and is named “My 35mm time machine…“

Playing with color...

I am a lover…

I am a lover of Black and White photography…

If I had to pick my soul apart and examine that little bit that is responsible for photography you will find out it will consist out of bit and pieces of Ilford Delta 400 or HP5+ and Kodak Tr-X. DDX and HC110.

But in that whole mess of Black, White, and all the shades of grey, there is a secret part that loves color.

Seduced by the wonderful tones of Steve McCurry and his Kodachrome. A mistress of the vibes of William Eggleston. Or a unspoken connection with the works of Harry Gruyaert.

So got myself some rolls of color film. Just because I felt like it!

I have got my hand on some Cinestill 50D and Kodak Ektar. And luckily for a short while there was no shortage of light. Did some casual roaming around. And had no real structure whatsoever. Just photographed everything that peaked my interest. I mean, I will be traveling in a couple of weeks again to work more on my ever evolving Israel project. So casual and just having fun is all I needed for now.

And it was fun! I mean, everyone knows that shooting analog is always a surprise. And way more difficult than digital. Also you don’t have the luxury of your back screen. But in comparison to Black and White you have to think in color.

So I tried to look for some colorful scenes and just clicked away.

Because most of the all color that I did shot lately was digital I was quite excited! So curious what the end results was... I was particularly excited for the Kodak Ektar. No specific reason. I just love the vibe of it, if that is reason enough. I am not very good at describing color pallets…

Me and my big bucket…

Since I do all of my developing myself I developed these rolls myself too. And in comparison to Black and White development I actually think color is more easy. With Black and White you can influence a lot by tweaking your entire developing process. From agitation to different developers and all of it you can think of. With color it is more straightforward and you can fuck less up.

The biggest challenge with color I think is getting everything to 38 degrees Celsius.

If you have followed my Instagram stories of that day. You might have noticed I have used a nifty little trick for that… If you are curious. Well… I guess you just have to follow my Instagram stories in the future to find that out haha.

Pushing it…

No this is not a reference to a Salt-N-Pepa song. But I did pushed it real good! To 400 to be exact. I think I only shot one roll at box speed. That was one of the cinestills’. But since I always like to push it, and 50 and 100 ASA is really not enough. I was like; screw it! Crank it up!

Added 30 seconds per stop to the developing time and it all went down as smoothly as a nice IPA on a sunny day. Or any other day…

Happy as a camper…

When I scanned the results I was indeed happy as a camper. It all looked wonderful and especially the reds really seem to stand out. This is why I shoot film… The smile on my face when you get the rolls out of your tank and seeing you film dry and after that the end result in an beautiful image. Or a sucky one when you screw up haha.

I would have loved to print some, but at home I can only do Black and White printing. I will look at that process maybe at a later time.

Wrapping it up…

Not wanting to make thing one a too long of a post, so I am going to wrap it up. Like I wrote in the beginning, I am about to work on my project again in a couple of weeks. And I need to get everything ready. So here are a couple of images of the rolls. Not all of them, otherwise there is noting left to share at a later moment…

So thank you for reading. And since you have made it this far. Here are the images.

- Cristian

Kodak Ektar 100 EI 400.

Kodak Ektar 100 EI 400.

CInestill 50D EI 400.

CInestill 50D EI 400.

Kodak Ektar 100 EI 400.

Kodak Ektar 100 EI 400.

Cinestill 50D EI 400.

Cinestill 50D EI 400.

Cinestill 50D EI 400.

Cinestill 50D EI 400.

Cinestill 50D EI 400.

Cinestill 50D EI 400.

Cinestill 50D.

Cinestill 50D.

Kodak Ektar 100 EI 400.

Kodak Ektar 100 EI 400.

Kodak Ektar 100 EI 400.

Kodak Ektar 100 EI 400.

Andante - Portrait series of the soul. No 2. - Reham

Andante…

Or in other words… Slow…

A musical term that means slow. And also the name of my portrait series.

I found it on the cover of an vinyl LP record I inherited from my father and the music on it was exactly how I felt. And even represents a side of me. Of course I have a happy side. But my other one is full of romance, love, sadness and melancholy. I embraced it and love it very much.

The name: Symphonie Espagnole, Op. 21 IV. Andante.

I wrote about it in an earlier blog post which you can find here.

Time…

For me it represents time… When you are doing something you like or love and are having a good time it flies by, and when you are going through hardship or have to wait for something it goes as slow as it can be. But time is only to spend once…

That’s why it is so valuable.

Reham…

This portrait series I just want to do by gut feeling. And that is how I choose the person I ask to photograph. I was thinking for a long time about whom I could make my second part of the series with. Than at one moment, I woke up in the morning I was thinking about Reham. I knew I wanted to photograph her for a long time but the puzzle pieces never connected until now.

Reham is a beautiful young soul of Palestinian descent that was born in Syria as a refugee but was unable to reuturn home. From Syria she went to Dubai, Lebanon, Egypt, and Turkey, before eventually ending up here in the Netherlands. Now studying computer science at one of the best universities of our country.

She is one smart cookie.

I’ve met her during a diner named “Diner voor gelukzoekers“ (Diner for fortune seekers) a couple of years a go hosted by Roos. The woman in the first version of this series. Everything is connected.

My process….

So how does that translate to my photography? Well… As you can see in the first one. It is full of people passing by as souls. And in this one… Trying to capture it. This through a medium of analog film instead of digital. A slower process of manual focusing and metering and developing it myself. Also, during that slowness I wanted to capture more…

I wanted to capture her power!

Her heart.

And eventually her soul…

A young powerful woman that is youthful and experienced at the same time. So after a couple of hours wandering through her hometown I think we succeeded. And during the editing process I ended up with four frames which I thought that would show everything perfectly.

What EI I shot it at or which film I used is not important. Except maybe that I always use Ilford for everything. With some exceptions of course. Other than that giving someone a safe space to open up is way more important.

The rest is not only film chemistry, but chemistry between you and the soul you are photographing.

So hereby…

So hereby. My second part of Andante - Portrait series of the soul.

- Cristian

Women's March 2019

Hey everyone!

Last Saturday I walked alongside thousands of inspirational women and men who support their cause for equal rights and so much more!

Of course I brought my camera’s and documented the day. Shot some digital. And shot some analog. And the scanning is still not done yet. But here is what I can share at this moment. And when the scanning is done I will either update this post or make a new one.

Hopefully my photographs can be of assistance to the path of equality…

- Cristian

Digital vs Analog, Israel, testing stuff, and other project updates.

Hey everyone!

This blog post is not really a dedicated story about something particular. But more of a quick sum up of everything that is going on. I will address my photography and I will be addressing a little bit of my travel plans and projects that I am preparing.

So I am putting on some Tool (The band) and just write away!

And at the end some images… And yes. Even some color… As a reward for reading through everything haha.

That analog life…

If you have been following me you probably noticed that I am getting more and more into analog photography. Not that there is anything wrong with digital, but I just think it is tons of fun!

For everything is a time and a place though.

It started out with just pure curiosity. How it works, and aesthetically it is just amazing. For me there are too many variables in digital photography if you are really into the whole mega post-processed stuff. But I am more of a documentary photographer anyway. So it is not that bad. But I remembered when I started and before I have found my voice photographically the amount of stuff what you can do and achieve are almost limitless. That can be a advantage… But for me… It is not… The less of distractions in my gear the better.

With analog I pick a film that goes with my subject matter. Of course you need to do some post processing. That part is not different. Unlike some people like to believe. But your base is just different. And because of that I can focus more on my composition instead of being a Lightroom warrior.

Sitting in a Ferrari…

The fun thing is. After you have shot analog for a while as soon as I grab my digital camera it feels like I am sitting in a Ferrari. Everything goes so quickly! You can review what you are doing, not to worry about a full roll, auto focus all of sudden… Man! Like a hot knife though butter!

I already mentioned this once before. But every-time it gives me more and more respect of the photographers from the golden age and all of my heroes. In comparison shooting analog is just goddamn difficult!

Shades of grey…

The world is not black and white like photographs, but situations are as grey as they come. Same in the case of photography. And specifically; what do I bring on my upcoming project…

I will be traveling to Israel and the Palestinian territories again at the end of April. Continuing with my everlasting story I want to tell.

And despite I want to shoot most of it analog. The thing that is going through my mind is.

Is it practical?

If you have ever been to for example Jerusalem. The amount of detectors you have to go though is enormous. And the last thing I want is that my film is getting screwed up by all the scanners and stuff. Of course on the airport you can ask for hand checks. And as you have read in my Vietnam and China blog, it is not really a problem. But I just don’t want to take the risk. Because if I lost any of my images again I definitely get a heart attack or something. It happened already to me last year and, I don’t want to happen it again.

In the end my heart will probably kick my brains ass and I will bring digital and analog anyway.

Lomography…

Speaking of grey… I have been picked by Lomography to test their new Postdam Kino 100 film. From what I have seen it looks like an amazing film. It is inspired by old German cinema. And from the images I have seen what they have shot I am actually really curious what it will give me.

The only thing is, because it is 100 ASA I need a lot more sunlight. And the Netherlands is still grey…

But as soon as I shot it I will dedicate a blog post to it. So stay tuned for that…

Developing stuff…

Lately I have written a lot about developing. Especially on Instagram. And filming it to and such. But I am trying to keep it on my own blog to a minimum.

The whole reason for that…

I just want this about the art of photography and my adventures. Projects I am doing. And even maybe a sort of diary with things that come to my mind. Not one of the many gear or technical blog that are out there.

I am a photographer first. The rest is just bonus…

I do like I said, share that stuff in my Instagram. That whole platform is as contemporary as it can be. It has it’s uses. So that seems like the right place for that.

Also you probably will on some guest blogs that I am going to write. And have written already. You can find one on 35mmc. I have written a 5 frames with. Go check it out if you like! Click here.

There are also some other ones in development. But I will let you all know as soon as that will materializes.

Searching for stories…

After I return from Israel and the Palestinian territories and processed all of my work I will be looking for another place to travel to. No idea which one yet. But I am doing plenty of research. Nepal, Papua New-Guinea and Uzbekistan are on my list. But it always can change.

I am open for suggestions though. So if you have some. The comment section is open, so you can always drop a comment if you want.

The stipulation is. I do need to have a story to tell. The main focus is that I want to steer my work towards that I create more depth in my images. Not only with composition. But also ,it needs to be about something. Otherwise it will be just one of the many millions out there. I need to get out of that street photography flow and more into my documentary photo-journalistic flow.

So I am looking for events that are happening. Some special festivals. Tribes or (sub)cultures. It’s a difficult task. But hey, if you want that your work means something…

Ramble on…

Not the famous song of Led Zeppelin, but this time it is me that is starting to ramble again. So it is time to close the lid of my laptop and go to bed. Because I am finishing this story up on a Saturday night…

Oh!

And I bought a “new“ enlarger for my darkroom. Time to print!

Alright. This really was it. For now at least!

- Cristian

Ilford Delta 400

Ilford Delta 400

Ilford Delta 400

Ilford Delta 400

One of my few color shots lately.

One of my few color shots lately.

And another color one.

And another color one.

A quick date with Kodak Tri-X.

Leftover rolls…

I thought it was a good idea to write more about some of my processes. And especially when I shoot something different than regular. Of course I would rather give you constant travel and adventure updates. But unlike the internet likes you to believe, real life is not always like that.

I shoot both digital and analog. But all of the experimenting you can do with film is just so much fun! Of course when I shoot with film I have my preferences. I just love Ilford and particular HP5+ 400. For me it is the perfect film. But sometimes I just have to try out new stuff.

And in that case, old stuff. Because when I was cleaning up my fridge I found out that I had two rolls of Kodak Tri-X 400 left.

Good excuse to go out and shoot.

Sidenote: I noticed afterwards that I even had some more. But those are expired. I will safe all the expired film for a later fun thing when I have plenty of time to spend.

Just doing random stuff…

I had no particular plan or anything. I just went out and shoot. First roll of Tri-X 400 on EI 1600 and than pushed two stops with developing. Same as I actually always do with my film. And the other one on box speed so I could screw around with long exposures.

The thing is. You do have to develop twice in that case. So don’t plan it when you are in a hurry and you want to see your results quickly. You can’t dump them in the same tank.

The first one which I have shot wasn’t all that different from every other film you eventually push two stops. So that was just walking around Amsterdam, Haarlem, and Utrecht and having fun.

For the second one I have brought along my tripod. I was trying to experiment with long exposures and multiple exposures at the same time.

The long exposures as a single shots turned out well. There was nothing wrong with those. But when you combine them with multiple exposures you miss the definition in the people. You only can get them when you are really quick with the “please don’t advance the film“ lever I think. I guess that is the whole reason why Titarenko was so good. Making good long exposures with people in it are just goddamn hard.

Technical details…

As far as the technical details of the developing process. I have used Ilford DD-X developer, Ilfostop, and Ilford Rapid Fixer. All of them on 20 degrees Celsius. So nothing fancy actually.

Deja Vu…

No philosophical message this time. Except for maybe just have fun and try new stuff… But what I did remembered is why I don’t like Tri-X! And that is it is curly as hell! And the film also damages quite easy I think. And it is not that I am a ruffian with the medium.

No dust magnet though. So that is a plus…

On aesthetics. I think that is just a matter of taste. I just like the way Ilford looks more. It is more me… Although Tri-X also has that classic look that all of the legends had. Sometimes you get that whole Garry Winogrand or Bruce Gilden vibe.

Speaking of legends!

What I always get reminded about how much shooting analog differs from digital. Especially mirror-less… You get instant feedback how your image looks. Particularly with those electronic viewfinder… Oh boy. I get why people like it. And than to think of it what kind of amazing work all of my heroes produced with all of the equipment from that age.

No auto focus…

No electronic viewfinder…

No feedback…

I mean, you have to visualize the entire image. And your feedback how it looks can take from hours to days. No fancy gadget makes you a better photographer. But it sure makes life easier.

But I digress!

Like always!

My damn monkey mind…

Not the longest post this time. But in the end it is just about sharing work and words, and hopefully that it reaches someones heart somehow.

Have a good one….

- Cristian

Learn from this mistake... My adventure with Ilford PAN F and a jetlag.

Happy new year to you all!

First blog post of 2019. And let me start off by saying that I appreciate every single one of you that takes the time to read my articles.

Thinking in soundtracks…

I was supposed to write this earlier in the day but I had a severe case of procrastination and I finally bought magnum contact sheets. Than my monkey mind got tricked in by looking at my scans again because if all the master could make it look that beautiful back in the day. I should’t have a problem with all this modern equipment!

Well…

I actually don’t have too much problems with scanning. Except of those pesky Vietnam negatives. Did some tweaks on my more recent scans I took on an estate close by. And my self confidence was restored.

Yes! I did not suck as hard as I was thinking I was!

So with those tweaks. Got my Vietnam negatives in the scanner again. And they still are the same…

That triggered a track from the band Down - Learn from this mistake

I always seem to think in lyrics or soundtracks or whatever if I do something. Don’t know why. But that is just how my brain works.

How it happened…

Everything went well actually! I found film in Ho Chi Minh. Got through customs with a hand check. In China as well as Vietnam. And got the film home safely.

Like I told you in the last blog post, the security officers treated me so nice. Hand checks were never that easy. So if you are a security agent at Chinese or Vietnamese customs. You are appreciated to treating this film photographer so nicely.

So I came home…

And being as excited as I always am I immediately got to work. Backed-Up all of my digital files. Threw the into Lightroom. And of I went.

Same goes for my analog shots…

I do all of the processing myself…

Processing yourself is way more fun than bringing it to a lab. And with the amount of rolls I have shot I am getting quite proficient in it.

You have so many advantages like, being more cost effective, in charge of your own quality, experimentation, magic. (Yes developing and printing analog film really is magic…)

But because I am so proficient my ego got the best of me…

I apparently had a jet-lag!

So that means I am human after all…

Into my dark bag I went…

I popped everything into my dark bag. Rolled the films on the spools. Got it in the Patterson tanks safely without light. That part… Went well… Like it should!

Than the developing started. Mixed my chemicals according to the massive dev chart.

BTW! I haven’t mentioned it in this article. But the film I just in Vietnam was Ilford PAN 400.

I love Ilford.

And unfortunately they did not have HP5+. Or at least I could’t find it…

Anyways. Back to the story…

What happened during developing is that because I was so tired and almost fell asleep I mixed up the order of the treatment. After I was done I have gotten in the fixer first and than the stop. It should be the other way around…

I still had and image but the grain was bigger and harsher, and there were some glows over the film. And weird other stuff.

I never would have have taken a risk normally. And especially not if it was work for a client. But somehow this one time I slipped up.

So why write about it?

So why write about it huh… Well. If everything went well in life we never would have gong any better. You need to indeed learn from your mistakes. Even if at the moment a situation doesn’t look import, in this case being tired. It would never make me a better developer. Or a photographer!

Also appreciation…

We are so lucky now with all the digital stuff. Writing this article with Magnum contact sheets next to me gives me the realization how much of a craftsman all of them were, and are.

We all hopefully know that a good photograph is not made by the camera. Even if you have the most advanced device ever. And that thing in your pocket is no slough either. You still need vision and creativity to make an image. Composition is everything…

But I am more trying to say is that everyone in that book, or even wasn’t in that book was so more aware of what they were doing. Craftsmanship and thinking things though were the order of the day. While the internet now is complaining about no dual memory card slots in the new Nikon Z1, they just had one roll. And for 36 exposures the same set ISO (ASA). And after that when it got send back, it was all in the hands of the gods. Than a lab technician came into play. The list goes on and on…

A bit more technical…

If you are curious how I developed it…

My recipe for this bunch was:

Rodinal 1 to 50.

Ilford Ilfostop 1 to 19.

Ilford Rapid Fixer 1 to 4.

Developing time 24 minutes since I pushed the Ilford PAN 400 to 1600. All of that on 20 degrees Celsius.

I always love to push my film. And this time I chose Rodinal. Other times I use Ilford DDX. Actually. That is now my preferred developer…

And now for the photographs…

Cris! They look like crap! Well… Yes, if they would have looked pretty this story would have been a lot shorter haha. They are shot on a Nikon FM2n with a 50mm f 1.6 AI. 50mm is totally not my focal length… But it is what it is. My 35mm was on my digital one. And I always travel minimal. But I immediately got my hands as soon as I got home on a new old 35mm AI that will replace the 50mm.

For comparison. There are some later developed photographs. Same method. Only not screwing up.

But now… A few minutes later when I am looking at them again they actually are not that bad. At least aesthetically. But you have to ignore the tint shifts and other weird spots you see haha. And I seem to have a memory they looked worse when they came out than they look now.

Here there Vietnam photographs. (Navigate by pressing the buttons on side).

As you can see there are spots and tint shifts. The inversion process was like always. Smooth. And right on time.

Same process. But not get the order wrong. Images are way more clearer and sharper.

Conclusion.

People say that black and white is the most forgiving format to develop. And is less prone to mistakes. Of course they are right in comparison to color film. But that does not mean they are bulletproof.

You still need to get your hours in and fine tune you whole process.

Take your time…

You only have one shot with your negatives. So give them the attention they need…

Going to Vietnam, Listening to an old lady singing Celine Dion songs, and freezing in China

Bags are packed…

I started writing this post in a stuffy hotel room in China. Meanwhile in the background the television was on, and a lady with a mustache singing Celine Dion songs. All of this together in a perfectly choreographed dance with her partner. Gotto love Chinese television…

So what the hell was I doing in a stuffy hotel room in China?

Well… I was on my way back from a trip I never would have expected to take this year. Vietnam!

I didn’t have that much time…

It was a short trip. I only had two weeks, and I had to make a short detour through China. Not that I was complaining, but China was freezing my balls of so cold was it! The downside was that having a long layover is that it will eat your time up at your final destination.

But with everything in life. You need to see the positives of it. And that gave me some thing to do some sightseeing in China itself. Despite I didn’t bring winter clothes. Silly me…

I just checked the weather in Ho Chi Minh and that is it!

The start of my adventure…

My adventure started about two weeks earlier give or take. Hopped on the plane in the middle of the day. Got all my baggage checked by security. And off I went.

In my research I looked for stores in Ho Chi Minh that sell Ilford film, and maybe some other analog stuff. This, because I was trying to minimize the chances of film going through an X-Ray scanner. Those scanners say they are film safe. But most of the time only to 800 ASA and I guess when you value your work you just don’t take the chance. It can leave some ugly glow across your film or some even more ugly lines. X-Ray is also light. Just very strong. The security personal did noticed my camera gear btw, and treated it with all of the care it needed. But more on that in the conclusion of my story.

The lady with the sign…

Anyways! After about and eleven hours I arrived in Beijing. And my whole plan for the layover was to do some sightseeing and maybe rent an sleeping pod for a couple of hours somewhere. But to my surprise there were two lovely Chinese ladies with a sign and my name on it! Also the name of some other travelers.

There was a little confusion because of the language barrier. But after a lot of talking with hand and feet the end conclusion was: Free hotel room!

Woohoo!

I like free stuff! But maybe that is because I am Dutch haha.

It turns out that you get a free hotel room with your plane ticket when you fly with China Southern airlines. Who would have known…

So got my 72 hour visa. Everyone got a sticker except for me. :( And took a long shower in the hotel room.

Sightseeing time!

My fellow companions of fate were a Dutch couple, a dude with a Roomba, and a German couple. We exchanged numbers during checking, because when you encounter these kind of surprises it is always smart to sort of have a line to each other in case something is the matter. And we all wanted to see the great wall of China.

So here we went! In the taxi, of to the great wall. And getting some Chinese money in the process. I called them Yen, but that is Japan. Sorry Japan! haha.

Because it was so freaking cold the great wall there were no crowds there. So for me that meant great photo opportunities!

Time for some noodles and onward with my journey…

And so I did…

After another six hour flight I arrived at Ho Chi Minh airport. We all split up to our final destination but the German couple was looking for a place to stay. And told them I was not staying in the party district, but in hostel at a district that was more easy going. I am not much of a party person, and my main goal was to photograph and chill out.

2019 is going to be a busy year for my with some hard to photograph places. So this was my sort of work / vacation trip.

They liked the sound of that and decided to join me.

I am so they did because they turned out to be this trips amazing souls.

If you follow me and my projects and travels I always met a person or persons that will make everything worth while. India there was the Professor. Claire and Ricky always have a special place in my heart. Chana. And the list goes on and on… If I didn’t name you, believe me, I didn’t forget you.

And now Tino and Alina. Thank you so much for the wonderful time I had while I was in your company.

Time to kill…

We could’t check into the hostel yet because we had to wait until two ‘o clock. So that meant time to kill.

Btw, the hostel I was staying in was DaBlend hostel. It was the cleanest hostel I have ever stayed in. Everything was so well organized. And the personal, especially Khoa are the coolest. So if you are like me and just want to do some work while chilling out if you are in Ho Chi Minh go to this place. Here is a link.

It turned out Alina is a photographer too. So after we dropped our bags and had some ice coffees we went out to do some photography. Got some great shots in, and walked a lot and had loads of fun.

Dragon Ball Z hands and time for bed…

We ended the super lang day with some beers and some food and some more beers on the roof. Apparently after I have had some Saigon beers I get Dragon Ball Z hands. Who would have known…

Time to rest…

Getting my hands on some film…

Ah morning! Time to be productive. I do my best photography alone and I also needed to get my hands on analog film I went out not too late. During my research I found the croplab.

Croplab didn’t have the film I normally use. I am a big fan of Ilford HP5+. But all they had of the Ilford brand was PAN 400 and Ilford Delta. In the end I chose to ho with the PAN 400.

Never had that one before and had to make a decision on the spot. So PAN 400 it was!

After I bought it I did some research during my rest moments. And it turns out it is not that common that you can get it here in western Europe. So that made it even more exciting for me! It was one big surprise how everything was going to turn out.

More on the results of the developed Ilford PAN 400 photographs in the blog post after this one.

The upcoming days…

The upcoming days were filled with everything I have planned. Went to a monastery close to the Cambodian border. Altough it was very cliche, but a big part of the history of Vietnam went to the Cu Chi tunnels and also shot some guns, and of course, plenty of more photography.

It broke my heart…

I do have to say this. And this is a reprimand to all tourist and I am very serious about it. At a couple of places. And especially the the religious places. There were a crapload of people misbehaving. And no, not young people. People of all ages, but especially the “elder” crowd.

It broke my heart that at a place where people were performing these very old traditions the tourists treated it like it was the McDonald’s.

Behave! Don’t be a dick! And keep your mouth shut! And also put that selfie stick in a place, or selfies in general, at a place where the sun doesn’t shine.

I am not doing that at your home either!

So if you read this. And you have the feeling that I am addressing you, I probably am.

Observe. Don’t consume!

You should know better…

Back to the fun stuff!

We took public transportation to most of the locations. But it takes a while. So at one time we were completely beat, and also a little scared that we weren’t able to get into the city because Vietnam was in the finals of the AFF Suzuki cup (Soccer). Luckily we entered the city just in time before the final whistle. Had to make one stop. But when the final whistle blew the city exploded in joy!

Haha at one point we had to celebrate with a group of Vietnamese people who were so excited to see us. Can’s of beers! Lot’s of photos with the foreigners! And chanting and cheering!

Congratulations Vietnam on the cup!

Time to get home…

Of course I want to tell you every other bit of this adventure. But i will spread those across future stories. Or maybe when you see me in real life, you can buy me a beer and I will tell you anyway.

It was time time for me to pack and head home. Lot’s of photos. Digital as well as analog.

The route i was going to take was the same one as I took on my way towards Vietnam. But now with a crapload of analog film.

I told all of you earlier that film can’t really handle X-Ray scanners that well. So I asked everyone security officer if they were able to hand check my film by hand.

And they did!

I guess this also counts like everything in life. Just ask politely, put up a big smile, and tell passionate about the gear you have. And don’t feel entitled to anything.

All of the security officers treated my film with all the care they could give it. As they did with me. Some even got excited to see it. That gave me a comfortable feeling.

If you don’t want to risk it anyway. The alternative is to find a place that can process your film. Developed film can not be harmed by scanners.

The reason I bring undeveloped film home with me is because I want to be in complete control of the developing process.

A couple of days later…

Now I am back at home. Already thinking of the next adventures I will have in 2019…

Not listening to Chinese Celine Dion, but to the Doors on vinyl.

Having the daunting task to go trough all of my work. That is always quite the project by itself…

Alina and Tino thanks again!

Merry Christmas you all of your that have taken the time to read this blog post.

The next one will be about the analog photographs I took and the developing process.

And remember…

It is Christmas 365 days a year…

- Cristian

Ilford HP5+ at box speed, a Nikon FM2n, and a people in yellow vests...

I fell in love…

I was waiting for my package and the mailman app made me even more excited because that notified me it would be delivered today…

And with today I mean last Saturday, December first.

The package contained a something special. At least for me… I wanted to have this camera for a long time. And faith decided that it was time for me to acquire one.

The camera? A Nikon FM2n.

It arrived in perfect condition so I was good to go! The plan is to take it with me to Vietnam. But I had to be sure there weren’t any light leaks. I mean, light leaks aren’t a problem, but I don’t have any time left to fix it before I go.

Luckily there was another demonstration going on in the Netherlands. So it was the perfect testing ground for my new beauty.

Developing

I develop my own film. So a day after I hopped in the kitchen and made my delicious rodinal soup to develop me some Ilford HP5+.

BTW! I will dedicate a later blog post solely on developing black and white film. I think it is some interesting stuff to share.

After that. Scanning began! And indeed! No light leaks!

Below are the shots. The first bunch is of the Nikon FM2n. And the later ones are digital shots taken with my Nikon D810.

Nikon FM2n

Nikon D810

The small KOZP demonstration photo series...

Protest…

Last Saturday I attended the “Kick out Zwarte Piet” demonstration to document it held at the city of the Hague.

In the Netherlands where I live we have a holiday named “Sinterklaas” or in English, Saint Nicholas.

Saint Nicholas is accompanied by Black Piet, and that is where the whole story is about.

Black Piet is portrayed as a black face. And in these times while we try to fight racism so hard on one hand, and the world is getting more polarized on the other. Is there really still a place for a character like Black Piet…

Pro or Against Piet. This is a tumultuous time which exposes some horrible cracks in the, for the outside world, the very tolerant society of the Netherlands.

And that alone makes it an important time for Dutch history…

For me… That means it needed to be documented.

Tolerance…

If you are curious where I stand on this topic…

I am against racism, intolerance, and discrimination in any, way shape or form. Period.

We should go back to Krampus anyway.

He is way cooler and is the first OG of Piets…

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The monkeys did it! - My days in Varanasi, India...

I’ve been home a couple of weeks now…

My Instagram feed make you want to believe otherwise because I am still posting photographs of India. But hey! Why not! I just created a lot of work over there that I wanted to share.

Trying…

I’ve been trying to write this blog post ever since the day I have returned home. But you know… Life… Ha! I always was surprised why some photographer seem to only update their blog every once in a while. But trying to juggle a lot of things all at once makes me realize the reason why that happens…

But! For now I have some me time again. So that means going through about 3000 photographs which I took in India of course. Writing my blog. And also, thinking about a way to present my work. In real life that is… Not digitally. As many people know I hate looking at photographs in the digital form. You need to hold them.

But like always I digress…!

Back to India!

I landed in Delhi like most people do. Around midnight I got my backpack from the luggage carousel, and oh so fucking tired of the flight I stepped outside looking for my driver…

I’ve been lucky to see much of this world already. And when I was doing my research my first reaction was. Aaaaaah the chaos in India is probably not as intense as they say it is!

Well I can tell you… It is!

Even in the middle of the night it was so busy everywhere… The busiest city I have seen so far was Tehran, Iran. But that one seems orderly in comparison to the chaos when you arrive in Delhi…

It was warm, humid, and dusty…

I stayed a couple of days in Delhi. I’m not really a fan of big cities. But it would be a shame if I just flew to Varanasi immediately.

I guess Delhi was a good way to acclimatize to the moist and heat, but mainly all of the honking… I still have some nightmares about the honking! I really needed those days because nothing else could prepare me more than Varanasi itself…

In Delhi i roamed mostly around the old city. Which is nice… The light is good, the dust creates some nice looks. And plenty of people and scenes to creates some nice images and warm up. And of course plenty of street food!

The only thing you need to look out for is crooked tuktuk drivers and touts. But other than that… Just roam around, eat plenty, and have fun.

The culture shock that is Varanasi…

I took a domestic flight to Varanasi. I wanted to go by train, but with all the hassle I had to go through with the new website that the Indian railways has got, and I wasn’t planning to let fate decide this trip what kind of train seat I would have. It seemed like a good idea!

Don’t get me wrong. I do think if you have plenty of time you really need to take the train! It will probably be a adventure by itself…

Varanasi was even warmer. And when my driver picked me up from the airport I guess it was roughly an hour drive to the city. For everyone who reeds this. A tuktuk will also get you there and is more fun and cheaper. And you don’t get any tricky questions if you want to upgrade to an airco one haha.

As soon as you arrive the chaos begins. Varanasi is so busy! Especially when I arrived… It was a holiday. Gandhi Jayanti. So a lot of Indian people travel to the city to do their rituals in the Ganges.

Being in Delhi first did indeed prepared me a little bit for everything. The business… Chaos… And the honking! My god! When will the honking ever stop!

The honking is being used as some sort of echo location to see if someone is close by or something. Even in the tiniest streets, motorbikes will try to go through the crowds and honk their way onwards…

As soon as I arrived in the guest house I was staying I started to explore. With my trusty camera of course. There is no better way than just dive right in!

Gear…

BTW, if you read this, and you are a camera nerd, and the chance of that might be quite big…You are most likely interested in which gear I brought. Well that is a very short list…

It was a Fujifilm X100F. A Fujifilm X-Pro 2 with just one 23mm lens. (35 mm equivalent ). And plenty of batteries and memory cards. That was it! I din’t even need the batteries because if you learn to turn off your camera yourself it lasts longer and is quicker ready to shoot, than it gets out of sleep mode…

In the end I only used the X100F. And no regrets…

So screw the gear!

I started at the main ghat. Ghats is what makes Varanasi, Varanasi I guess… It is the heart and the soul of the city. And those are the places where life happens…

The main ghat was so busy! I felt like I was in an ant hill… But it was really interesting to see all the rituals and traditions going on…

It was not the place for me though. For me the most interesting moments happened when I was roaming between the most southern ghat ( Assi Ghat ) and just right before the main ghat.

You can go even more northern. But somehow it was less appealing to me.

And also a small but not less important. The ghats were covered in mud! There has been a flood. And there was mud everywhere… So that gave it’s own challenges… There was a huge cleanup operation going on that made for some interesting scenes. Even lost my shoe, and found it back again. And became for me a big part of the story of the city.

My own rituals…

I created my own rituals there. For me that was roaming between the ghats I just mentioned. Walking a little, stopping for chai, and walking some more.

One morning when it still was before sunrise I continued my roaming between the ghats, and at one moment I got the questions for the thousands of time; “Boat Sir?“

Until now, I always replied no while shaking my head. But this time he even proposed a descent price. Still a little bit more than the local price. But when you travel you need to have the “fuck it“ attitude and just see what happens… And so I did…

I got in the boat. The boatman came and go, and than came again… I thought it was time to finally to go but than another passenger came out of nothing.

The other passenger and I started talking and he turned out to be a professor from Pune, that is close to Mumbai. A super friendly man which gave some interesting insights about the country and city which I otherwise I would have missed or not have known.

We ended up having lunch together and a day later diner and even introduced me to a friend of his. And also drove on a motorcycle with three people at once.

Another thing he introduced me too was lemon tea in the Assi ghat. It is not like Chai or regular tea. But it is tea with salt… The first sip was a bit weird. But after the second one I was hooked! The lemon tea later became a part of my ritual and I even made a lemon tea budget in one of my many pockets haha.

And professor. If you happen to read this blog post. Thank you for everything and your great care. And I mean that form the bottom of my heart. Kind people like you is what makes traveling so special. :-)

The story continues…

The more I roamed around the more I got to know the city. Which is a good thing… You learn what makes the city sort of tick. You start to see the light. You learn what most import is to you and your photographs. And you even get to know the people that live there. The touts started to leave me alone. Compared my muscles with some of the guys who thought they were strong. Chai break here, Chai break there, Chai break everywhere!

Talking about strong…

My physique helps me in a lot of ways… I am not a body builder so I am not huge. I am a weightlifter which is a big difference! It does not make you look bulky. You just get big legs and you look like you can lift a house. But that is a different story haha.

And this time too. One of the mornings I arrived at one of the Kushti training centers. For people who don’t know what Kushti is. Kushti is an traditional form of Indian wrestling which goes back even way before 0 BC. Here is a link to the wikipedia page.

My main goal was to do some photography over there. And it was a important item on my shot list. But I started talking to one of the wrestlers. And as soon as I mentioned that I was a weightlifter I needed to join!

How can I refuse?

So I didn’t even hesitate and joined.

I got introduced to the head coach and, and as soon as the area was made ready to train, I joined the prayer, and was ready to go. The wrestler told me what to say during they prayer. Trained with some of there equipment. Did some grappling. And got a massage and a good cracking from the head coach. Did need to take a little break to still get my shots in haha.

The equipment they use reminds me of the Persian house of strength or Zurkhaneh. Especially the clubs and hammers.

They are such a wonderful people. As soon as the training was done I got invited to join the next day again.

The monkeys did it!

I always talk about my monkey mind. But these monkeys were not in my mind. There are in the streets and on the roof. Now isn’t that really such a strange thing. But somehow the monkeys over here have a little more of a jerk factor than everywhere else.

During the evenings I made some phone-calls back home and every-time there was a huge monkey sitting above the roof entrance playing with his balls and looking at my phone… That bastard wanted to have his own… But it is mine man!

Their assholeness is fuel for some funny conversations though. I will never forget the shop own who complained about that the monkeys broke his Wi-Fi. Or the little kids who where cursing at the monkeys because they their kite. And I asked them; Are the monkeys nice? And their reply was with their sweetest voice; No, monkeys not nice…

It is really refreshing though to see kids playing with kites and chasing monkeys and be happy with it.

My bridge. And a message to other photographers…

I am not talking about a physical bridge. But I am talking about a philosophical one… And one I want to make and connect to my previous stories and my message to photographers.

And maybe not even photographers but everyone in general…

It is all about making connections!

I am not kidding! One of the things that got me triggered were a couple of remarks that were something like; “Hey you are in India, it must be really so easy to get some good photographs!”

That actually rubbed the wrong way…

If you really think like that, why are you photographing?

The things that make photographs special and timeless, are the emotions and the stories you are capturing. If it wasn’t for the kids on the roof, the professor, the Kushti wrestlers, and later a buffalo herder which I talked for hours with on the waterfront of the Ganges. I wouldn’t have gotten my shots in. And besides that. You still need to think about composition and such!

This is what makes your photographs tell stories. You are dealing with real human beings, with a heart! And a soul! And emotions! Yes India is a photography friendly country… And very photogenic. But still…

Otherwise you are just doing graphical design with a camera.

So treat humans as humans… Not as subjects…

You are not in a zoo (And I don’t even like zoos)…

Talk to some people… It will make you richer in ways that you would have never have imagined….

And even when you are not a photographer. Traveling is still about connections. The laughter and joy. The stories you come back home with… Not the Instagram likes…

Rant over… Back to the fun stuff. Like getting sick for a day.

I wanted to train Kushti again but all out of nothing I felt sick. It came out of nowhere! I guess no one is safe for some sort of bug here. Especially with our fragile European bodies.

I needed some healthy stuff. And maybe some food that reminds me of home. So after some Google’ig I have found the brown bread bakery.

What a delight!

It is a nice place where they sell some European sandwiches, nice teas, and lots of smoothies!

When I was there eating my Gouda sandwich I met an amazing couple. Tobias and Isabelle. Isabelle is from the Netherlands too, and Tobias is from the UK if I am correct. And with my camera on the table it didn’t take long the conversation went towards photography. And especially analog.

It turns out that they were making a documentary film purely shot on analog film. That is so cool! They went to so many places already and now they were shooting in Varanasi.

Go check their Instagrams out! You can find Tobias here. And Isabelle here.

The flu like symptoms went away as quickly as it came. And I was going on my way again. We said goodbye. Exchanged Instagram’s. And for me it was back to photography.

Wrapping it up! For now…

I still have so many stories to tell… But maybe I will tell them later.

It is about time I will round this blog post up…

India is an amazing country. Despite the chaos, honking, slipping on cow poo, the monkeys, and the famous Delly Belly… Yes, I was also a victim haha.

The food. The nice people. The culture. Everything!

In the future I will return to see the rest of the country. There is no question about that…

For now. There is a little bit less than two months left in 2018. And if you have come this far in reading this blog post. First of all… Thank you for that.

Also…

Maybe some of you can help me with some future destinations! I opened up the comments of this post because of that.

The reason I ask is because I have to my own surprise some extra time to travel in December. And the destinations is not set yet…

So which part of this beautiful earth would you like to see me document?

Until next time…

- Cristian

Make A Wish...

Hey everyone,

Two weeks a go I was privileged to be part of such an beautiful day with a lot of beautiful people.

It was the day the wish was granted for a lovely little woman named Emma by the Make-A-Wish foundation.

The Make-A-Wish foundation is a organization that makes a hearts wish come true of children from the ages of three to eighteen. All the information about the organization you can find here. And if you can support the organization in one way or the other please do. They need all the help they can get. They have such a beautiful mission.

Her wish was they she could have a froze themed day, and learn how to photograph from a real photographer and have a photo shoot at the same time together with her sister. She and her sister and parents got picked up in the morning by u giant pink limousine.

After that, it was off to get dressed in some beautiful dresses and having a nice big piece of pie. After the pie make-up and hair was done. After that it was on their way to Castle Warmelo.

At that moment I joined the day.

Horses were ridden. We walked through the Castle gardens. Cameras were explained. And a lot of smiles were seen. Which made me very happy.

Normally my stories are longer. But a photograph always says more than a thousand words. So I have chosen five of my favorite photographs of the day which you can see below. 

Thank you so much I could be part of the special day and share the day with your wonderful family. And of course thank you that I could write and share a little story about it.

 

The one about how photography is looked upon across the world. A sour market salesman. And you and your work are important.

Ah Sunday morning...

The day I am finishing up this blog post.

Getting through some world news. Having some coffee. And listening to some vynil. Perfect conditions to finish this story up. It is going to be a long one, so get ready to challenge that millennial attention span! 

We will touch a couple of subjects like GDPR (law), differences how photography is viewed around the world, and that your work is important.

So let's start...

I wanted to write this article for a long time. And my encounter with an incredible sour market salesman in one of the busiest places of Amsterdam sped it up a bit.

I was so happy last Friday. It was finally raining again... Oh boy I waited for that moment so long! Rain for me is the ultimate photographic aphrodisiac. I write about it sometimes in my captions. Rain makes the masks fall off from people. People wear multiple masks. Especially here in the rich west. As soon as it starts raining they disappear and start getting real.

Some get angry, some get happy, and some just don't want to get wet. For me as a photographer that is important because you can document how they are. Not how they pretend to be. That is a big difference in the story you try to tell.

I got on the train and started walking. It was not a bad day, and I think I walked around 12KM or something. My usual distance...

Unfortunately the rain was not as present as I hoped. And it took a while before I got in the flow. But after a while I started to warm up and gotten more and more shots in. 

After a couple of hours I was almost done for that day. But I made small detour because there is always a market in Amsterdam on one of the squares in the city center. And market is a good opportunity to work with layers and lines. 

So I walked around a bit. did some layers shots. Walked to the end. Shot some more. And looked for some interesting scenes, stood still for a bit, and decided to walk back because I was in the mood for a beer.

The moment I decided to walk back I got spoken to by a market salesman sitting on a stool. Apparently he noticed me and he made a very weird remark. And instead of letting it go, or even worse, get affected or angry, I decided to start a conversation with him. 

The reason for this; a couple of weeks earlier the lady of flower shop not far from there started yelling at me because I took a photo of her shop from 20 meters away. And that is quite the distance with the focal length I am shooting with haha.

For your info. I use a Fujifilm X100F at the moment. That one has a fixed focal length of 23mm on a APS-C sensor. That means 35mm Full-Frame.

Normally nobody notices me, or they just don't care. Or they like what I do. Especially when I talk to people. I actually never had any bad experiences before. There are four I have ever had in all the time I have been photographing. Including the sour market salesman.

Once I got a message from someone who thought he could get rich of me. A junkie somewhere in the middle east tried to shoot me, but I think it would have been the same if I walked around that neighborhood without a camera. The flower lady. And the sour market salesman.

Three out of four incident happened in Amsterdam.

Let that sink in...

So before that last situation happened I started thinking about that subject matter. And what it means and let my whole monkey mind go nuts on it.

Remember my monkey mind?

Back to the conversation with the sour market guy.

Because of I was so intrigued by his remark and why he and the flower lady reacted like that I engaged the conversation.

So I stayed very polite. I explained him who I was and what I do. And asked him why he reacted the way he reacted.

The sad thing is, he could not give me a good explanation...

He just kept saying it was not allowed to take pictures. And after I told him what I do with the photographs. A brief history lesson about photography in Amsterdam and Ed van der Elsken. And actually that I am allowed, he still didn't get it.

His buddy who was sitting next to him did get it. And actually was very interested. Thank you sir. You were actually very kind...

After that he started getting mean. He told my I would fail in all of my endeavors, did some additional cursing and some other very rude remarks that were completely unnecessary. And I don't need to repeat to get my point across with this blog post. I giving the situation enough attention as it is already. Also some bystanders came to support me and tell the guy off.

The thing that stood out most from that conversation is he could could not explain himself.

Besides that. The market in that area is based upon selling artwork. So why don't you understand that photography is art?

From a commercial standpoint you are hurting your own business by making a scene in front of your shop. So why do you want to do that?

And I think most import. You are in one of the busiest sections of Amsterdam with your stand. You know that there are a lot of tourist there that just want to have a good time and take photographs. Why in the hell do you think your ego is so important that you can get mad at someone for taking a photograph?

I could go on and on... But I guess I need to start getting to my point before it becomes more of a rant instead of a informational piece.

One of the explanations I gave was that I am documenting life and when I am not traveling I document Amsterdam. His response was; photograph somewhere else.

Of course there is a lot more nuance in the whole conversation. But still...

And I did not even take his photograph. And even if I did, and he didn't like it. He could have told me in a normal civilized matter. I can totally understand that.

But unfortunately being angry and rude to people is a trend see evolving in the city. Espacially bikers yelling at tourist. Come on! You know that you are riding your bike in the city center. Most tourist have never seen so many bikes in their life. So why be angry at them? Just take the other lane one more street further where there is nothing to yell about...

But back to the core of the article!

On "How photography is looked upon in the world"

I was curious; Why!?

It is so strange that of all the places I have been the one back-home is the one with the weirdest reactions?

In Japan for example photography is a big part of the culture. Everyone likes it. Same goes for the entire South-East Asia. You will not have any trouble there. I know tv shows from Korea which are totally dedicated to photography and they follow heroes like Alex Webb and David Alan Harvey.

Northern Africa is a bit more difficult but if you use your common sense you will not have any trouble. But you can run into that sometimes people cover their faces. Same goes for the Middle-East. But that should not give any problems if you are just polite.

And of all places Iran has been the most photo friendly country I have been so far! People want to be in your frame! In Tehran I have gotten so many nice responses. Who would have thought that!

I still have to go to India. But I will be there in October so I can tell you more when I get back.

So why here...

Is it because of the paparazzi that ruined photography for us all?

Is because everyone has a cellphone with a camera on it and we see so many crappy photographs?

Is it because the west is getting less and less educated in art?

Or is it because we have became so wealthy that with all the technology and living in a  "Garden of earthly delights" like society  (the painting by Hieronymus Bosch ) that were are so into instant gratification  and are just motivated money, lust, and ego?

I sincerely hope that someone can tell me that answer. Or maybe I will find out myself in the near future...

It is fascinating how big the difference is from country to country.

It is not all bad. And maybe it even differs from city to city.

For example: In the city of Scheveningen. Which is a small town next to the Hague. There is a huge exhibit going on about Street Photography / Social Documentary which has been shot and exhibited on the beach. And everyone likes it!

The exhibit is on the big pier BTW! It is worth it so go check it out... 

The other things that I took from that conversation is the "I hope you fail...", and "You are not allowed..."

On "I hope you fail..."

Besides it is just very mean to say. I think we as photographers. Or as artists in general we have an very, and I repeat very Important job. We are story tellers. Either it is through photos, painting, music, or sculpting. It is made to move people. Make them happy when they are sad. Heal them or giving a feeling that they are understood. Or even educate people and hold a mirror in front of them. Or maybe even a critique to society...

Also! Art is a way to tell how life was during this time. How it was perceived. I see photography as the only way we have a real life time machine. The one thing that can stop time itself. Other ways do not exist. And there is no way the most important moments in life can be relived than through this medium.

So yes. To everyone that reads this that is a photographer or a artist in general...

Your work matters!

Especially now. In a time when there is more polarization than ever. More conflict among each other. From the Netherlands to the United States. More people dictating each other what they should or shouldn't do. Racism and segregation.

Sometimes for me society feels like we are repeating history and have not learned a damn thing!

So continue to inspire others with all the beautiful work you are making. And never ever do not let someone else tell you otherwise!

You matter!

Not only as a artist. But as a person too...

So ergo. You matter to me...

On "You are not allowed..."

Of course you are!

*Small disclaimer: I am not a lawyer

Besides from that we have established that social documentary is an art form and not paparazzi. And ethically you are not doing anything wrong.

Laws in Europe have changed. GDPR is now in affect. But after I have done lot's and lot's of research on the matter. Nothing has changed actually...

If you are in a public place you are allowed to take photographs. And you don't need to ask for permission in doing so. 

As soon as you press the shutter button you own the copyright.

But! There is always a big but...

You do have to do it from a journalistic, artistic, or educational standpoint.

Some might even think that you have to erase your photograph. But depending on the country you literally don't have too if you don't want too. That goes for European countries and Northern Parts of America. Remember that the copyright is yours.

You cannot use it for commercial purposes. That means you can not sell it to a big brands and say: here, use this one in your marketing campaign. You have to get model releases.

But you can use it as fine art. Make a print. Or a book.

Like always. There are some nuances in play. But I will link some sources (In Dutch) below. So you can read it yourself.

That of course does not mean you can walk around and being an ass and annoy people with your camera. Remember that you have an important job? That can only be done with ethics and a good heart.

My final conclussion...

This experience raised more questions than answers I am afraid. But more about how we treat each other than about art itself.

And maybe even how hypoctritical we are as a society. 

And when you have gotten to this last part of this article probably means you are a photographer yourself. Or a lover for photography.

So let me explain myself with a question I get sometimes.

"Do you ask for permission?"

Well... Sometimes I do, and sometimes I don't. And if it is not personal work but commissioned or a assignment people know in front that they are photographed.

We look at pretty pictures and all enjoy the works of Steve McCurry, or attend a World Press Photo show, or read the National Geographic... But how do you think those photographs are made?

The decisive moment is once and it disappears in a heartbeat. And you will never get it back. Photographers or artists are the only ones who can make sure it is captured otherwise it is gone forever.

It is not easy to document life. And tell how beautiful the world is. And sometimes very sad...

Let that sink in for a moment and go on by your day...

I guess it is time that I put up another record. I have spend to much time behind the laptop already...

- Cristian

Sources:

NVJ

Arnound Engelfriet (Internet Lawyer)

Ivor Rackham

Freelancer Club

RAW Photo Tours

Introducing Andante - Portrait series of the soul. No 1.

Monday night... 23:03... 2018...

I should be sleeping but I put up a record of one of mine favorite classical pieces.

Symphonie Espagnole, Op. 21 IV. Andante...

I never knew I like classical music until I picked up a box of LP records from my uncle's place, which I inherited from my dad. Thanks dad...

Years later everything falls into place. Classical music... Photography... And a Russian photographer named Alexey Titarenko.

When I discovered his work I was blown away. I was exactly how I look at the world! He describes his work in one of his interviews as a cello playing... Long... And slow... The state of despair of cold war Russia put in an image only he could make. A real "City of Shadows..."

Later it was the name of one of his books. The other one is "The city is a novel..."

Inspired by him, and my own views of the world, I created a concept in my mind. And for two years it was brewing... Forming... Shaping... And waiting for the right moment.

An visual representation of my own cello in my monkey mind. Only my monkey plays more of a violin. But still slow!

Slow... Seeing people like a sea of souls in a world full of contradictions... Sadness and joy... Beauty and pain... Truth and lies... The ultimate form in shapes of what people really want but actually do...

It is like writing my own novel...

Only with the camera.

Or is it more an autobiography?

I truly believe that something magical happens when you press the shutter button. The visual representation you see might be a composition. But for me it feels like opening up my own soul, bare naked, to express how I see this giant magic ball floating in space we live on but can't put it into words...

Luckily I shoot work full of joy too. But both sides are a part of life. The sad needs to be there to enjoy the beautiful even more. Balance... And my close friends know that I always say...

As above, so below...

Art is a good way to vent. And something can be beautiful, and sad, and full of joy at the same time. A dramatic depiction of life! And do we need more drama? Maybe... It creates a lot. From connections, to romance, and even substance and depth. Maybe it is even a message of the things we tend to forget. And maybe not even forgotten but put aside because of the rat race we are stuck in... No matter which mask you are wearing or character playing...

I guess I am sidetracking now... Back on topic!

I should be a story teller...

None of my street, travel, or documentary work is staged. Everything is real. And I take my pride in that. That means also this portrait series. The only thing I added to the composition is the model... Which I was looking for a long time...

Finally the right moment came when I was contacted by Roos Tulen. She is the resident artist of the city of Leiden. She decided to start her own project. And that project became herself. She signed up for a fitness competition where you had to stand in a bikini on a big stage. And that meant a completely different lifestyle than then weightlifting she was used to.

That also meant a lot of physical changes. And because of that she asked twenty photographers to capture her journey... And every photographer would capture her in his or her unique way. In the end it will become an art project by itself presented in the city of Leiden.

All the details of that I will tell in a later story. So stay tuned!

This is where I played my part. Finally I could make the concept what I had in mind for a long time reality.

Within time this concept will become a series. When I find the right soul that needs to be captured. Some of them will be made here in the Netherlands. Others during one of my travels...

Let's see...

Andante - Portrait series of the soul. No 1.

 

Nothing About Us Without Us. Syrian refugees. And a human rights organization named Kompass.

Hey all!

No deep philosophical blog post today but a short and sweet one.

I shot the event "Nothing about us without us".

Because of refugee day, human rights organization Kompass organized a meet-up for 15 new young Syrian leaders and also refugees to take the stage. After a crash course in leadership they were now ready to face the public and tell their stories.

The 15 young leaders represent the diversity of Syria, and its diaspora, and overcame the memories of conflict and war. Not only that but also addressing the current state of the labor market, integration, mental health, and a possible future return to their country. By making their voices heard, they contribute to making the Netherlands an even more beautiful place. 

You can find out more about the human rights organization Kompass over here.

*Click on the sides of the gallery to cycle through it.

 

Did Instagram kill photography?

I woke up this morning...

Thank god...

Because I like waking up!

The smell of incense was still hanging around from last nights meditation... Sun was a shining a bit on my face because I left the curtains a bit open... And my mind went to photography again...

Because I like photography...

Cup of coffee was made... Went back to bed... And turned on my iPad...

Grateful...

In comparison to most parts of the world where I travel to, people don't have the luxury waking up like this...

I started watching "The many lives of William Klein." and Daido Moriyama's "Near Equal.". If you aren't familiar with those photographers go look them up! And make that your main task today...

I let my mind wander... Thinking... Always thinking...

Because I like thinking...

And my monkey mind is always jumping from one place to the other. In this case to a quote from another legend, Elliot Erwitt. "Digital Manipulation kills photography".

Altough I don't completely agree. Because photographs have always been manipulated! Either in the darkroom or in the digital darkroom that is stationed on your computer.

He does have a point!

My monkey mind was going insane again. But it ain't all that bad...

Because I like my monkey mind...

How does Instagram fit into all of this? And what is Instagram actually? And what if William Klein was born when Instagram existed? or Daido Moriyama?

Valid questions... But more so. It gave me also the opportunity to think about the way how the general public uses Instagram. Or any other piece of social media. Or hell! Even how we treat everyday life.

As where I stand now the platform itself is a blessing and a curse at the same time.

Let me elaborate on that.

The positives are quite big actually. It gives any person in the world the opportunity to get their message out there. Either it is music, art, views, or whatever. It can help you build a audience that you otherwise would not have. The whole world at your fingertips! As long as you have a internet connection and a phone or a computer.

Awesome right?

The downside is... Well... us... The people...

Wait wut? What do you mean Cristian!?!?

Well like a lot of things in life it has become more of a popularity contest. We as a species at this moment, and yes I am realizing I am generalizing heavily now, seem to have to attention span of a goldfish! Actually I believe that science already proved that it is even less now...

We choose to get triggered by stuff that is catchy. We see it in our politics, how we communicate with each other, or we rather take a pill to lose weight than change our diet. And even rather send a text than have a telephone conversation because it is scary...

Same goes for art and Instagram.

For me a great photograph is something that you have to analyze... You can lose yourself into... Let yourself escape from reality... Or experience reality more vivid... It is really one big visual story one way or the other. Either it is the traveling tales of Steve McCurry or being in some sort of photographic version of the horror movie the ring and a playboy magazine with Daido's work.

And how does that translate to a medium like Instagram?

Well no worries I will come to that. Life is one big story! And...

Because I like telling stories...

Well, look closely how you scroll through your feed? Maybe another assignment for today?

I goes something like this....

Scroll scroll scroll, Like , Scroll, Like, Comment, Scroll scroll...

And all of that in a couple of seconds...

Did you actually see some of the photographs?

Or did you just got triggered by something catchy?

Would you have the same behavior if you go through a Steve McCurry book?

I think it is a good question to ask yourself. Especially if you consider yourself a photographer, a artist, or just a art lover in general.

That does not mean there isn't a time and a place for the platform. I discovered some amazing photographers who made the platform their own. But it creates some sort of unexplainable distance between one type of photographer and the other. You even got a term "Instagram photographer". Like that a person that uses the platform apparently in a efficient form isn't a real photographer?

I don't know... 

I think photographers that both are on the platform and are not on the platform or maybe less successful on it, are photographers. So hmmmm it can be part of my conclusion...

All I know is I don't like trends... And most of my photographic heroes where from a time that it did not exist. I don't like cropping. Don't like shitty small screens but I do like to print my photographs big. And I don't like it when we fall in the trap of instant gratification. Either it is enjoying art or interacting with humans...

Because I like art and I like humans...

And do we have to copy all the big accounts all the time?

On the other hand I also do realize that times always change. And you either adapt or you die out. And change is good. Altough not always... But sometimes.

And a picture is a picture. It does not matter what tool you use. So should that also count for the medium we use how to show it to the world?

But what I do believe is that whatever medium we use. We do need to stop, and appreciate the art for what it is. Give ourselves the time to enjoy it. Stop a bit longer at the photograph you like and stop scrolling, or walking, or turning the pages...

Enjoy it for what it is.... A story...

Food for thought...

Speaking about food... I am going to have a bite....

Because I like food...

Have a nice weekend you all...

- Cristian