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

 

The most awesome publication... A cover in Iran.

Couple of day a go ...

Woke up... Made some very nice fresh coffee... Read some news...

Than the doorbell rang!

It was the package delivery service. I knew there was something on it's way. I just won a old vintage Scott receiver at a online auction. So I expected that one... But surprised as I could be, the delivery guy had two packages for me!

The receiver was all cool and stuff. But as soon as I noticed the second package and saw the stamps on the envelop I knew what it was.

It was my copy of the magazine I got published in from Iran!

Mehdi, the creator of the magazine contacted me a while a go if he could use one of my photographs I took in the Nasir Al-Mulk mosque in Shiraz. To be specific, it was the one with the lady with the gown.

I agreed and some time went by. He said to me he would send me a copy. But with the whole embargo thing going on I didn't expect anything. Maybe the government would hold it or something. I don't know.

But it arrived!

So screw the amp!

I guess I don't have to tell how cool it is to see your work published. Let alone in a magazine in Iran. But a little hint. Getting a magazine out there goes a little bit different over there than here in the west and is a bit more difficult.

Mehdi did a beautiful job and the magazine is about arts and culture. I even got the cover!

He translated some articles for me. And even within the package he included some prints of his province where he lives. Borujerd...

Of course it would be amazing to be on the cover of National Geographic one day... But this... man... I guess for me it is even way cooler.

Anyways! It made me very happy!

I put some photos below if you want to have a look.

P.S.

The receiver is awesome too. Listening to my records while I am writing...

 

Five things I learned about (Life) going to Jerusalem the second time...

Need to make money...
Need to get my motorbike fixed...
Need to do this and that...

F##ck...

April 8th 2018...

Three weeks has passed since my last blog post. And it is incredible how easy you get sucked in everyday life again...

There is never a better moment than now, but in this case and the mindset I have at the moment. It feels more right than ever to write the second part of the five things I learned series.

This one, the second one, is about life!

Sometimes it is so easy as photographer to get stuck in the technical crap that involves photography. But we tend to forget that photography is about life. It is a art form meant to capture life. And it is the only machine we really have to capture life in it's purest form. A bundle of emotion captured in one frame beamed onto your screen or printed on your paper and for you to reminisce. Like a real life time machine in the palm of your hand...

Of course the blog posts are not for photographers only but everyone that loves following my adventures and mind farts. That's why most of my blog posts are more philosophical and about art than gear or tech related stuff.

I use my art to tell stories. About the world, life, but it is also my critique to society. A way I know to let my mind wander and try to make sense of all the stuff that is going on in my head... And even a way try to make sense of the madness we call life....

My photography brings me a lot. And most of the time to places and moments. And because I use it to make sense of all of it it schools me too. Sometimes I realize I am right, sometimes I realize that I am wrong, and sometimes it raises even more questions...

So what does all of this have to do with my second trip to Jerusalem?

I will come to that... No worries...

I guess it is also very easy to fall into the political trap because of the city of Jerusalem. And because of that I will keep my views unbiased. I am a observer. And this article about the lessons I have learned. As a person... And not about someone that needs to do this or that...

So here we go!

  1. We are all human...
    I put this one first but it was the last one I wrote...

    I think it is because this one is the hardest to explain of them all...

    At one point I was having coffee in the old city. And at another moment I was going through a checkpoint and walking around in a 400m2 area where about 15000 humans live. That is a experience...

    The "funny" thing is. I had many similarities with Omar. My guide through the camps. We talked about life there. Life where I am from. And everything in between. He is a talented artist. Seems to make most of the situation.

    A moment later I had a call with my Israeli friend Chana which I was supposed to meet. But her car broke down and she couldn't make it. But she felt so bad... She was engaged to be married and wanted to tell me all about it. And I didn't see her for two years so it was the perfect moment to catch up. But fate decided otherwise...

    Despite all of our differences we are so similar as human beings...

    We all share the same emotions about love, life and death, living and caring...

    It gave me a good sense of direction I want to go with my art and passion projects. We are all one... Let's finally understand that... 
     
  2. Work hard, but don't rush...
    I already mentioned this in my previous blog post in the part take your time. But I want to get into it a little bit deeper.

    Good things come to those who work hard. And that is the absolute truth! Of course there are setbacks. But working hard also involves not giving up.

    The big trap is rushing.

    And I fell for it...

    There is thing called Street Zen and the first time I heard about it was on a podcast by Eric Kim.

    I guess the whole trick is to find that Street Zen! I wanted to do too much. And I rushed and I rushed. Sometimes forced and sometimes self inflicted. We all know we as humans can be our worst enemy.

    Street Zen is a real thing. And you can apply it to everything in I guess and call it being in the zone. Ah well...

    If you want to deliver quality find you Zen. Take your time. Know your intent for the photograph. And go with the flow.

    Rushing never did anyone any good. Same as sitting on your ass.
     
  3. Find your own truths...
    When I was a little kid we had a game in class named "I ga op vakantie en ik neem mee". It roughly translates: I will go on holiday and take with me... It is a game to see if the first person that tells something, will it still be the same if it reaches the end...

    Real life information tends to do the same...

    Taking up a project, a passion project or a normal one, or just regular travel. You need to do some research. Some of it comes to word by mouth. Some of it goes by the news or books. Or the internet. Or even better. The lonely planet!

    Wonderful!

    But I have experienced now numerous times that when I arrive it was different than I imagned.

    Iran was not full of terrorists...
    The Tsjech republic does not have nice beer... (Sorry...)
    And Israelis and Palestinians can be friends...

    Wait whuuut? What did I just say!?

    The last thing I watched on the news was all of the violence that happened during the return march. And of course all the stuff that you read about in the papers. And not to speak of about social media...

    I've seen Israeli soldiers taking photographs of a Palestinian father and son. Arab making small talk with Jews. And little kids having fun in the streets...

    Somehow the whole situation seemed less tense than the first time I was there. And although I came there to work on my photography I had a great time. Yes haha, you can have fun and work at the same time...

    So always find out your own truth. Hell, even doubt this blog... Just go out and explore yourself. It is way more fun anyway.

    And that counts for everything. A camera review. A song you hear in the radio. A certain restaurant that a travel guide says you have to visit! Or not! And than it turns out is is the worst or best experience ever... And even the news...
     
     
  4. We all have our own shit...

    Sometimes I tend to forget that. The part that we are all human... When you have seen a lot and have een trough a lot it is so easy to say: yeah we in the west have forgotten to be happy and we are spoiled to the bone... Especially if you experience the Israeli and Palestinian conflict sort of up close...

    And for a big part it is true...

    Yes, I just said that...

    In a big way with all the wealth that we have we fell into the a giant trap that we have forgotten what is most important in life. And we make a fuzz about trivial shit.

    That does not mean that we do not have our own problems. Because we do have. Because of all of those traps certain other issues arise. Mental health issues, disassociation, a rising gap between rich and poor. Even global warming! Rising suicide rates...

    Actually all of this is nothing new.

    Everybody knows it...

    And I am about to hit the point I am trying to make. So hold on!

    I think the lesson I have learned is not being so judgmental. Actually because of all of those thoughts I just mentioned. Yes! I was judgmental. And it is good for your art to wind yourself up about something.

    But it was to easy for me to get angry at the woman who tried to park her bicycle into my motorbike because she said; "Well as long as I can park my bike here than I will be fine. I don't care about anybody else..." just the day after I got home. And yell at her: You don't know how good we have it here! Be grateful! 

    I need to wind myself up the same amount about the stuff back home as I do with all the other stuff that is happening in the world.

    Why?

    Well because like I said earlier. We are all human. And as long we don't understand ourselves and each other. We will never see any progress and all the bad shit will continue to happen everywhere.

    Who knows what the woman has been trough.

    Be a possitive exapmle...

    That at least is my two cents...
     
  5. Never rest...
    This entire trip lit a bigger fire in me than ever. I am not used to giving up. And I am sure as hell more than ever determined I will make it was a photographer and story teller.

    I mentioned not sitting on your (mine) ass never did anybody good. And it is the honest truth. It is something I took from sports. I you want something go and get. Never give up. And put in the work. All those Gary Vee posts are all about that. You know the drill... Don't expect to reach a target if you hang out on the beach or go out for drinks. Although relaxation is important too. Get your priorities straight...


    The here and the now is this life. One life... And I have to fan the flames of what my soul puts on fire... So Rumi was right after all...
     

At first all of this seems to have nothing to do with photography. But believe me it does... It is a art form despite it does not seem like it in this day and age. If you want to make a beautiful portrait of someone you still have to see the artistic and human side of things. Otherwise you will never capture the essence of that human being. Same goes for architecture or landscape.

If you do your photography with your soul it will all work out and it will show in your work...

And like I said earlier. It does not only count for photography but for everything.

Just put your soul into things... Work, art, friends, family, your partner...

Btw! I named the project "Neshame Sheli". It means roughly translated: You are important to me. You are a part of my soul... And that is how I feel about my photographs and telling stories.  Hopefully it shows and you see that too...

- Cristian
 

 

Five things I learned about (Photography) going to Jerusalem the second time...

Hey all!

I am currently really busy with the processing of all of my material of my latest trip to Israel and the Palestinian territories. But that is a long process and when it is all done I want to write a big article about it. And find a proper way to present it to the world.

Until that time arrives I will write short blog posts like this to keep the information and sort of involve you all in a bit of my process.

So this piece part one of a two part piece with five things I have learned during or after my latest trip to Jerusalem and the Palestinian territories.

First one is about photography. The second one is about life.

So let's start!

Part one: Photography...

Like I said. Currently I am in the process of working through all of the material I made and that is just something that takes time... A lot of time!

In short. I took around 1100 photographs and I am editing them at the moment. Part of that process is also voicing visually the intent of the photograph. And ultimately after all the editing is done the post processing start.

Of the approximately 1100 photographs there are only a few that will make the cut and want to share with the world.

During that process which is not even done. I ran into a lot of issues. Not everyone shares that stuff. But I am a big believer in that running into problems or even failing is a big part of getting better. It's a rule you can apply to everything in life...

Same goes for photography!

And the whole trick after the whole failing or running into issues thingie. Is that you just don't give up! Get back on the horse and just go go go!

Learn from it. Feed from it... Grow from it!

Btw I am not only summing up stuff that went bad. It's also good to reflect on stuff that went well, or even good! Because also that is a good thing to know.

Alright here it goes. Five things I learned!

  1. Don't buy new gear!
    A couple of weeks before I left for my trip I switched from Olympus to Fujifilm. I sold all of my lenses and my beautiful Olympus PEN-F body... And I did not even hate my gear. There was nothing wrong with it, and I am a firm believer in that you can't buy a bad camera anymore.

    It was more that I was chasing some sort of look or vibe that the Fujifilm sensors have. And I just felt it was time for a change. And if you never try something new you will never know you will like it or not!

    The whole difference between my Olympus PEN-F and Fujfilm X-E3 is a whole other subject to dive into. Because the end conclusion is I love them both. The point I am trying to make here for the DO NOT BUY NEW GEAR issue is the learning curve!

    My ego let me believe I worked enough hours with the Fujifilm to understand the device completely and I would not make any mistakes with it.

    Well I was wrong...

    For example the aperture I shot on my Olympus to get everything sharp was around f5.6 or lower. On my Fujifilm it was way lower. And I realized I had to take my photographs around f8! That resulted in some shots I had a shallow depth of field when I did not want it. Especially when I missed focus.

    That brings me to another point. I missed focus! A lot!

    I was like: How the hell is this happening! Back home I did not have this problem!

    There is a difference between photographing back home and while traveling. And that too will be material for another blog post. But in this case, the conditions were different. The people were different even though I was there before. The gear of course was different. My mindset was different. All the narrow alleyways and using certain techniques to get a shot and doing stuff on instinct. All of that together gave me some out of focus results.

    I analyzed it all. And one of the things was the the single point focus on my Olympus somehow let me get away with errors. While the single point focus on my Fujifilm was unforgiving. If you miss it, you miss it!

    I switched to zone focusing instead and that worked better for me in those conditions. End result. More material I am satisfied with. And no customer or viewer of your art will care if you used a single point focus method or a zone focus method. It is all getting the shot and the story you are telling. 
     
  2. Do your research.
    Like I said, it is not all about the bad things. You also need to reflect on all the stuff that went well!

    For me it was arranging my guide or fixer or whatever you want to call it. Making a plan on what you are going to do everyday and also leave some room for spontaneity. Having a back-up plan if something falls short. All of that so you can get the most out of your time.

    I planned everything well. And I also was very lucky that nothing went wrong. I think on that part I had the smoothest trip ever. Planning helped.
     
  3. Update your software.
    This one is actually not about the time during my trip. But more about the process when you return and start to review your work do your post processing.

    I looked at my shots and I was getting angrier and angrier by the day. My photos looked like crap. And I did nothing wrong! Why? Why was this?

    I was getting into fights with my raw files. And got a bad case of worming. Man o man I was getting frustrated... My photos looked like a watercolor painting!

    A fellow photographer said to me: Cris, did you update lightroom?

    Fujifilm raw files had got some issues with lightroom in the past. And after a lot of Google searches I read that there were a lot of people that used alternative raw processors and bypassed lightroom or not used it at all! The switched to alternatives like for example capture one.

    Small side-note. I used to have the last standalone version of the original lightroom. Because I refused to be part of the subscription model that Adobe started.

    I actually like lightroom a lot. So I followed his advice. Put my ego aside. And updated purchased the monthly version of lightroom. And as soon as I openend my photographs again they looked a lot better.

    I combined that with a different way of sharpening and voila! Instant happy Cris!

    Btw. The whole sharpening thing with Fujifilm raw files... Only use the sharpening slider a little. Use the detail slider more and pull back the radius.
     
  4. Shoot a lot of shit.
    Maybe it is a bit redundant to say. But I hope I don't have to tell any photographer that it is to take a shot extra than you have not taken the shot at all...

    That especially is true with memory cards. Fill those puppies up and shoot everything that peaks your interest.

    And no. That does not automatically nullifies my post about "f##k instant gratification". Those are two completely different things. And if you have a goal in mind... Do whatever it takes. There is no award for getting the decisive moment in the least amount of photos...
     
  5. Take your time!
    I saved this one for last...

    Because for me this is the most important one.

    Why?

    Because I did not do it...

    I wanted to get the ultimate photograph so much. I soared and roared across the area like a idiot. My drive that I am so proud of got the best of me.

    The end result was that I did not take the time take in the moment as I normally do. And that sucks. It is not that I have bad photographs now... But in retrospect there were moments where I should have taken my time more the choose another angle. Or kneel down to take the shot. Get closer. Wait longer. Getting the details more right.

    What if is miss something?

    That mindset held me back to look at some little details. When you see a scenario and you don't need to react in a split second. Just take your time... Relax... Take two photos extra. Inhale... Get low or high. Analyse... Wait for the light. It will all come together if you just let the moment be...

    It is hard to explain I guess... But there goes a lot detail in taking a good or even a great photograph. And a lot has to go with a certain flow and peace of mind. You feel it when you do it. And once you made one. It is a feeling that you will forever chase again...

 

Alright! This is it!

My five lessons about photography. I hope you enjoyed them!

Stand by for Part two: Life...

 

 Catching that decisive moment...

Catching that decisive moment...

Aida and Dheisheh refugee camp...

April 3rd, 2018...

It was 09:00 in the morning... Sitting in the Arabic bus from Jerusalem...

Destination: Checkpoint 300...

I was supposed to meet Omar my guide at 11:00, but I woke up way to early and could't sleep anyway. Also a bit nervous what was on the schedule today. Not only I wanted to capture the way how most Palestinians head over to and from the West Bank but I made arrangements to get guided through Aida en Dheisheh refugee camps.

As soon as I got passed the checkpoint I was officially in the West Bank. It went easier than expected. Only realizing later that it would be easy getting out of Israeli territory. Getting back in is where the difficulty lies.

 Bus stop at checkpoint 300...

Bus stop at checkpoint 300...

I went through the doors and after getting some annoying taxi drivers off my back I gave Omar a call that I was already there. He was still asleep... Btw, if you read this sorry I woke you up too early man haha!

I waited a while.. The sun started shining harder but I refused to get into the shade... I didn't want to him to somehow at the point where I was waiting so he could easily find me.

The taxi drivers left me alone... I told them for whom I was waiting and they understood. Something that normally never happens. Usually they rip-off some lost tourist, ask 200 shekels for a ride and some sight seeing but drop you off around the corner. Omar confirmed that to me later when we finally met up.

When he arrived we finally went walking.

 Path that leads to the turnstile at the checkpoint...

Path that leads to the turnstile at the checkpoint...

My first impression of him was a young and intelligent young man. Reminded me a little bit of myself when I was his age. That makes me sound old, although I am only 35. He was wearing a t-shirt and a necklace with two photographs on it. Both in memory of his uncle and cousin.

Later I also discovered that he is an amazing artist. He made a beautiful painting about the whole situation in the LAYLAC center that is in front of the Dheisheh camp.

He started telling me about life behind the wall. Where he was allowed to come and if he crossed a certain area he would get shot... That sank in... Made me realize and reminded again how fragile life is and how good our life over here is...

Right after we crossed paths with someone who went to work illegally...

That would mean throwing a rope over a part of the wall where there are no camera's and hop over. It is some sort of Russian roulette where you don't know if the army is waiting for you or your friends. The latter is good.. The first means jail or death...

Later we passed the street where most of the clashes happen on Fridays. Friday prayer is the first part of the day, and after that protest happens. You could still smell the tear gas the has been used earlier in some parts...

After we walked through that area we saw a guy selling some fresh juice. Not only it is a totally random place to sell some juice. But hey, why not take a glass. Exactly what I needed.

 Part of the road next to the wall where most clashes happen...

Part of the road next to the wall where most clashes happen...

Omar told me he hadn't seen him for a while because he suddenly disappeared and after a while he found out he was in jail. 

Just a short walk from this place we arrived at Aida camp...

Even though I did my research I still did not knew what to expect. And actually after two days it is still hard to describe how it is...

The camp felt more like a favela you will find in for example Brazil. It has been there since 1948, and the tents got replaced for more solid temporary but also permanent housing at the same time.

The thing that stuck to me the most was the big netting above the playground / soccer field. The whole purpose of it is when tear gas is being fired it does not fall on the kids playing and they can get out...

We talked some more about about life...

After I did my photography it was of to the second camp... Dheisheh.

 Rear entrance of Aida camp...

Rear entrance of Aida camp...

We took a taxi to the other side of town and arrived at Deisheh.

But before we went in we went to the LAYLAC center. The center is a place for youth development and they work on projects. Omar showed me one of his works and it is amazing! the young man really has some talent. Not only graphically but it also had a beautiful message on a deeper level. All about your roots...

I shook the hand of the director of the center and a young girl who was there and we had some small talk. It was good to be in this place. It gave me a positive feeling again.

Enter Dheisheh...

We turned the corner and got into the camp. Like I wrote about Aida that it looks more like a favela is also true for this one. Once started out as a tent encampment and now it turned into this.

 Street in Dheisheh...

Street in Dheisheh...

The whole situation in Dheisheh looks worse than in Aida. It was build around 1949 and according to the UNRWA it is housing at this moment around 15000 people.... But only was build to house around 3000 people on a surface of 330 square meters...

Try to imagine this...

The streets are covered in pamphlets are murals of martyrs. To us in Europe that sounds weird. Because we got a association with this concept with the things we hear in the news. For the people that live there they are friends and families, brothers and sisters...

One thing that also drew my attention was the caricature named Handala. You will see him painted on numerous wall. If you want to know more on him just click on the link. It is a cartoonist symbol for the deviance of the Palestinian people in general and his alligiance to the poor.

 Handala...

Handala...

We walked some more... Talked some more... About the situation and about life... And than it was time to go... Back to Jerusalem...

But man...

I wish I just had some answers how to make some sense out of this. And that is the whole reason I became a photographer. Just to make sense of life in general!

But in the end for now it raises just more questions...

I am not taking sides. That also is also not my job. My job is being a story teller...

And my experience with the Israeli people is nothing but positive. If you see them in every day life the are kind and well educated, well mannered , and just very nice. So this is NOT a article to bash the Israelis. Remember that... I also gained a very close Israeli friend last time I was in the area. You know who you are. ;-)

The thought that is going through my mind most now is how this could just happen and how this is possible...

And hopefully one day there will a solution for what I think one of the most complex situations in the world.

And maybe with my photography I make a small difference... Or at least can get a conversation started in a civil way...

 

 Street in Dheisheh...

Street in Dheisheh...

 One of the martyrs...

One of the martyrs...

 Netting above the soccer field...

Netting above the soccer field...

Snaps during national demonstration "No racism in the council."

Hey all,

Last of march 18th I took some snaps during the national demonstration "No racism in the council". Or in dutch "Geen racisme in de raden". All organized by the commite 21st of march. Or het comité 21 maart.

The demonstration is being held because of the local elections. And in short, there needs to be a counter voice against the social and economic injustice.

The Netherlands is hardening/The situation in the Netherlands is rapidly becoming more problematic. People who have lived her for decades are now being labelled as threats. Young people looking for work are consistently rejected because of their last name. It’s claimed that there is no room for people fleeing war, poverty, or climate chaos. Muslims and refugees are being used as scapegoats to distract from growing socio-economic insecurity and inflation.
— Comité 21 maart event page

I took some photographs during the march and I didn't want to keep them on my hard drive. And of course the biggest reason I am against injustice too! So the more eyes the better.

We need to be kinder and tolerant to each other anyway. Because if we keep treating each other and this earth the way we do it at this moment, we will eventually get bigger problems... But hey, that is a totally different topic!

And also maybe a good starter for a project about enviromental refugees...

Btw. If you want to use them for some reason. All my images are always copyrighted. So always nicely ask.

 

F##k instant gratification.

Hey you all!

Some of you might know who follow me on Instagram. I bought a late sixties Olympus Trip 35 for 20,- euros two weeks ago. I did a live video about it and later a instagram vlog when I got the results. I think it is a beautiful camera!

I read some reviews about it online and watched some YouTube clips, and I thought! Why not!

I always wanted to try analog photography for a long time anyway. And as some of you also might know that I really really really like physical things. I just think stuff loses their soul in the digital world...

Anyways! Bought the camera from a guy that lives in my hometown. Thanks Matt Que! It rocks! Bought some rolls of Tri-X 400 and I was good to go! Later when I get the hang of it I can always buy a more fancy analog camera.

The Olympus Trip 35 is a point and shoot style camera rangefinder style. You only got two shutter speed, you can adjust the aperture if you want to. A dial to enter your ASA number and that is it! But I think for the best result in this case is just leave it on auto. In that case you just have to just the distance to your subject. For that purpose there are meters on the bottom and little people figures on the top.

I went out and got shooting. Essentially there is nothing different than normal photography... You see a composition or a situation, aim, and snap the photograph...

What is different, and that makes it very exciting, and that is you have no fucking clue what you are doing. Of course you know technically what you are doing. But you don't have a display that will tell you if you got the shot!

The other thing is you only got 36 shots. So you can't just snap away! You really have to think about the situation if it is worth it. Do I want to spend one of my frames on this situation or composition?

All of that makes you think...

I makes you value more what you are doing... It gives it worth...

In the throwaway society thing that we live in it is a rare occasion...

And all of that just because you really have to work for it!

And that isn't the fun part! The fun part that gives it even more value is taking it to the photo-lab to get it developed! Like normal printing you have to think about stuff like; what kind of paper do I want? How big needs the print to be? Do I want borders? And after all of that you still don't know what your photographs look like!

And than you wait... And wait... And wait some more...

The black and whites had to be send out so it took a bit longer and after 4 days I got them back Developed and print! Ready to be drooled on be me!

I opened the envelop and there they were... Beautiful! I was so happy!

Not every shot was in focus but I didn't care... They were amazing!

I browser through them already a lot of times. And I will continue to do so haha. It is reall, it is physical, and I can hold it. It is magic! That feeling that can't be explained. And it made me happy as a little kid gain.

I will post some of the photographs below. Not everything. Because I want safe some for later... So there are some of my first roll. But I think how it looks digitally does not do it justice. I scanned them with a very convenient app named PhotoMyme. If you want to digitize you analog shot that seems like a easy way to go. You can just use your smartphone for that. And if you want to do it more fancy you can use a real scanner or even scan the negatives. Probably more on that later.

So in the end I can only conclude is shoot some film yourself! Fuck instant gratification and just go out and go analog. It is really fun, I can promise you that!

Finally my Iran work in physical form! Souls of Iran as a Zine!

Dear friends!

I was so busy with everything that I forgot to wright a blog post. And to tell you all a super exciting update!

My Souls of Iran work is now available as a two part Zine!

I am so happy with this. I can't describe it into words. But I will try it anyway haha.

And yes, I know I know, I should write more... I'm working on that!

I wanted to to make a book at first. But I got really inspired by a special about zines. Or zeenes...

The origin of Zines is rooted in Sc-Fi, Punk, and Photography sub-cultures. It was, and is used to self publish their work or their own ideas and spread them around there scene or the world.

And with me being a photographer and still have a lot of rebel in me left from when I was a little Cris, it seemed like a better idea.

The book was actually already done. The spell check was back, had some people look it over and review it whom I hold in high regard. And I was good to go!

Until I was watching a episode of Ted Forbes's YouTube channel "The art of Photography"... Btw, if you are really into photography it is a awesome channel to follow. It brings the art back into photography.

Anyway! I was so inspired! So I decided to sort of re-work it into a Zine format.

Making a version of a4 size paper stapled together was maybe a bit to rebellious for the way I wanted to present my photographic work from Iran I decided to go with the most used self publishing service out there named blurb. Blurb is a very cool platform for everyone who is trying to get his or her work out there and offers incredible quality and services.

I also made the creative decision to split my work up into two parts. Isfahan & Shiraz, and Yazd & Tehran. It seemed more fitting. And that way I think the focus is more on the photographs instead of the volume of pages.

And in this day and age I think that was the best fitting way to present it. Everything is already in bulk. If for example you look at Instagram. I don't now how long people look at a photograph. But it is way to short... I guess that is the reason why I like physical prints so much. You have something real...

Another factor was price.

My fine art prints are expensive as they are. They are of course worth every euro. But it is still a fair amount of money. And I wanted to make something that is more accessible for everyone. A book would cost around 70,- euros. And the Zines are 20,- and 15,- euros. So that is a big difference.

Small side-note. Every cent and euro make it possible for me to continue my photographic journey and tell the story world. And makes new future projects possible. So it is a big support!

The end result you can see below. And yes, it makes me very proud!

Like I said before. It feels good to see your work in physical form. And hopefully all of you like it just as much as I do!

If you are interested you can order it through here or just click on the shop and than Zines menu item.

 

Art exhibition Park Hotel starting January 19th

Finally I can scream it from the rooftops!

Starting from January 19th six of my works will be exhibited in the gallery zone of the Park hotel in Amsterdam.

It is a big ass area where you can chill out and admire works of art. And this time, it is my turn!

I signed the contract last Friday and I am so excited about it!

Like I said six of my works will be on display. And they can be seen for a period of three months!

If you want to have a look, you can see it day and night. And you are always welcome!

The address is:

Stadhouderskade 25
1071 ZD Amsterdam
The Netherlands
https://parkhotel.nl/

 

The importance of printing your work...

The doorbell rang..

I did not expect anything. But still... In the back of my mind I hoped it would be something I was waiting for... And hot damn... It was!

The delivery man had a huge safety box! After I dragged it to my apartment I was finally able to open it... And each layer I removed I was getting me happier and happier...

I can not describe fully how cool it is to hold your own work in your hands in physical form.

Normally in this day and age most of the images we create we only see digital. But at least for me, it loses a lot of it's charm. For me it is in the same ballpark as listening to a record. Or reading a real book. Only times a hundred. If you could stare to a image for hours and lose yourself in it, you know you are on the right track. And with printing, it gets you there...

I guess that is why art is meant to be experienced for real. And just on you computer screen or phone.

Printing also has other benefits. Besides it is freaking awesome! You will think about the details more. And how you will shoot next time. There is a whole process involved before you can actually send it to the printer....

What kind of size do I want? What kind of paper do I need? You have to order some samples because you will see your image transform before your eyes as soon as you put it behind glass...

How do I need to deliver my files? What kind of frame do I want? And also you have to account for your passe-partout. Don't know the english word for that, so you will have to forgive me. It is the big ass white are black border around your image.

And than also other important stuff. What is the purpose of a image? Are you going to sell it? And the most difficult, what is the price of your product going to be?

Am I there yet?

Probably not... But I will think of stuff later. And otherwise maybe you will...

For this series I have used Hahnmühle paper. And even within this brand, there are lost of sub choices to be made. So how do you want to present your work? Is it going to be a larger than life print? You will be needing to make those kind of choices to proceed. The higher end you want to deliver the higher end and maybe even thicker paper.

If it were black and white images it probably would have been Ilford.

But that is not the only choices you have in the sub-choice. Every kind of paper structure will influence the way the ink enters the paper and give it a different feel...

Fuck... Are you getting dizzy yet?

There are so many factors to consider to print your work! But, I guess photography is all about the details. And the better you want to get, the better you are going to look for those details... And the more driven you will be...

And in the end actually it does not matter anyway. Strange huh?

Here is why:

Because you rule!

It does not matter if you are a amateur or a high end pro. Printing your work is also very simple. Because it is just awesome to do!

You! You as a person decided that was your one decisive moment that you chose to print. And you are going to be as happy as a child anyway. And you should be fucking proud of yourself!

Until next time...

- Cristian

Who are you shooting for?

"Who are you shooting for?"

I was thinking about this while talking to a fellow photographer online, being in bed with the flu, and watching the YouTube channel of Ian Wong. The talk was about his new analog Contax T2. It is one beautiful machine. And if I believe all the stories online it is build like a freaking tank!

But the build quality was not the point... It was the fact that it shot analog. And that does not mean that analog is per definition better. But it makes you think more about what you do... You only have got a number of shots on a film roll so you can not fuck up! How is that for some pressure my millennial friends?

I compare at a bit to owning a record player. Instead of putting on a Spotify playlist you have to pick out a record and think about what you want to listen to next. It makes you more aware of the music that you are listening.

I believe that applies to photography as well... If you only have a number of shots, and really have to think about what ISO you film speed is going to be, and you can't yank it out half way of shooting. It makes you think more... Not only your technical choices like aperture and shutter speed, but I mean really think. About the important stuff, like composition!

If you look at the legends like Salgado and Koudelka, they also shot analog. There wasn't even digital available! But still they seemed to shoot the best stories you can find... 

And it looks like it is the only way to get really better at your craft as a photographer. And I am not saying now run off and buy a analog camera. But think about what you are shooting... Don't take 50 shots and pray that there is one good one in the bunch. But be aware of your surroundings, about your composition, the story that you want to tell... And pretend you only got one roll of film in your camera... It will make you better...

And that explains the title; "Who are you shooting for?"

Are you shooting just a quick snapshot to post on Instagram and share with your friends? Or are your goals to tell a story like nobody has done before?

Maybe it is the perfect analogy to life too... Don't go for the quick results but for what is really worth it...

 

Capturing Kick Off Alliantie Genderdiversiteit

Gender diversity and photography...

Like always I love telling the story of our world. And knowing this story isn't told that much, I was more than happy to say yes when I was invited to shoot at the kickoff of the alliance of gender diversity.

The alliance is made out of multiple of organisations that are trying to break through the stereotypical image how the society looks at gender. And the alliance is consists at the moment of writing out of Movisie, Atria, COC, Doetank PEER, Emancipator, NNID, Nederlands Jeugd Instituut, Rutgers, School & Veiligheid, Transgender Netwerk Nederland en Universiteit van Amsterdam Pedagogie.

Those are all dutch organizations, but who knows... Maybe in the future there will be some international ones.

The kickoff was being held in a event center named "the colour kitchen". And like all event centers or congress centers, it is really really really dark...

So that provided me with some sort of a challenge. So here comes the technical part.

I chose to shoot without flash, because otherwise in a intimate setting the talks of the speakers were constantly disrupted by flashes. And for me, if you want to capture the decisive moment, you have to be discreet...

So I put my trusty Olympus on silent mode and started shooting. I can't say one value for the EXIF data, because I was constantly adjusting my settings. Everything was done in manual mode. ISO varied from 8000 and lower... It all depended how close I was to the big screen in the front. And same goes for aperture. That was constantly shifting between 5.6 and 2.8. Shutter speed shifted between 1/250 and a 1/125. That was because I wanted the people to be frozen, and in this case, not see any motion blur.

Not only I was happy shooting at this event because there were some special individuals, but also during my photographing I listened to the speakers. It gave me another perspective again in how everyone looks at life, and so that meant another chance to learn. 

Most people are only interested in the technical part of photography. But for me... Technical skills are only a part of that. It is if you do photography with your heart you will see someones soul for real and put emotion in your photograph.

If you are interested you can find more information on their Facebook page here. And information about Doetank Peer you can find here.

 

Armando Aid Fundraiser - November 18th.

On November 18th there will be a fundraiser for Armando Aid.

Armando Aid is a organization that is providing education to refugee children. That is one beautiful concept right?

This event specifically will be a Christmas fundraiser to raise money for a new educational program in Europe and the Middle East.

The organization has no official funding or support and relies solely on fundraisers and personal donations.

The day will be filled with live music and comedy. And there will be a auction where art will be for sale.

That is also one of the reason I am writing about this. I not only think it is a good organization, but I will also be contributing to the aid. I donate one of my prints that is specially printed on fujifilm paper that lasts a lifetime. And I really love the way it made my photograph come to life... The print I donated is on the bottom of this posts.

The fundraiser is being held in London so if you are in the neighborhood maybe you could pay a visit. All information can be found here and and you can get tickets here.

Otherwise there are other ways to support this organization. For example you can donate some money here. But you can also contribute in other ways. Like you can be a teacher or a Gardner on location. Best thing you can do if you want to read about that is on the get involved page.

This organization already has done so much good, and managed to educate a lot of people so it would be wonderful if they could do it for many more years to come!

 

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