Art

Introducing Andante - Portrait series of the soul. No 1. by Cristian Geelen

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.

 

The most awesome publication... A cover in Iran. by Cristian Geelen

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...

 

Art exhibition Park Hotel starting January 19th by Cristian Geelen

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... by Cristian Geelen

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? by Cristian Geelen

"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 by Cristian Geelen

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. by Cristian Geelen

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!

 

PA010168.jpg

Finding a new hero. Finally putting on some underpants. And New York photojournalism. by Cristian Geelen

It is Saturday October 14th 2017...

I was figuring out how to start the day. And than i realized it might be a good idea to start with putting on some underpants...

I was supposed to go to the lowlands throw-down. That is a CrossFit competition which is anually held in the Netherlands. All of the fittest people of the Netherlands, Belgium, and Luxembourg are competing for the title of being the fittest. Including my self proclaimed little sister Leonie.

 Lifting is still a big part of my life. And with my birthday coming up I realized I have been doing weightlifting for twenty years.

I decided not to go. I wanted to, but with the fact I have not taken any time for my self and there is plenty of busy time coming up that sounded like a better idea. So I texted the little big one and stayed in bed for a little bit longer...

Somehow I stumbled upon the documentary "everybody street". I was so surprised I have not seen this before!

"Everybody Street" is a documentary about famous street photographers from New York City. Why didn't I see this before? What the hell is going on? Why the fuck didn't I know about some of the photographers?

Those were all questions that came to mind as soon as started watching it...

I searched the entire internet for photography related stuff, and especially the street stuff. But I missed this... I can recommend this to everyone who loves photography to watch this. It is amazing!

After about twenty minutes I saw a photograph appearing on the screen. The colors were so beautiful! I was screaming at my iPad WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOWWWWWW!!!!

It was a long time a go I had that feeling...

The photograph is made by a woman named Martha Cooper. She is a photojournalist from New York and is mostly known for her work in the graffiti sub culture. Btw, don't confuse graffiti with street art, because those two are completely different worlds.

Back to the wow moment. I noticed here use of color and composition that I think is amazing! So clean yet so raw... You have to see it for yourself. So you have to Google her name. Because of course I can't use her photographs without permission. You can find her Instagram here btw!

She is still photographing well into her seventies, and using Instagram btw. That is so cool!

It was funny because when I was watching the documentary some photographers were complaining about the digital age. And she was embracing it. And I still am convinced that there is a big part for photography in our lives. Despite all the cell phones and amazing camera's that are out there. Photography is still a art form and there is a huge difference between taking a photograph and taking a picture / snapshot.

My favorite of her is a man on top of a subway. Perfect use of empty space and the natural lighting that was there at the moment. It is so hard to describe what makes it so beautiful but for me it was worth writing this whole story.

I don't know what gear she used. But in this day and age it is another sign that gear doesn't matter. It is all about composition and lighting and most important, putting your soul into it...

Capturing souls and telling the story!

I send her a message. Hopefully she will reply. And when she does I will tell of of you about it.

And maybe another observation. Nothing beats those analog colors... Damn...

I am about to wrap this story up. But please check her out and the documentary.

And for those who are curious. Yes I am still in my underpants.