Exposure

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.

 

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

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
 

 

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!

 

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Voorlinden Empty Meet. The results! by Cristian Geelen

October 8th 2017...

For me a exciting day!

The whole reason? A meetup with other Instagram photographers to be creative in a completely museum Voorlinden! All thanks to @senns_less.

Voorlinden is museum located in Wassenaar the Netherlands and showcases mostly modern and current art. And specifically this day was also the opening of the display of the art of Shio Kusaka & Jonas Wood, and Michael Johansson.

Kusaka & Wood. She is a ceramic artist. He is a painter. And together they let their work intertwine into each other to make some beautiful pieces of art! Soul mates stuff right here!

Michael Johanssen is a Swedish artist and doing some real life objects. He is assembling everyday objects to make new shapes, sculptures, and installments. He made a very cool (pun intended) iglo out of cooler boxes!

The morning started out with a nice bite to eat, some coffee and tea. And a talk by someone from the museum. Forgot her name... Sorry!

After, we were let loose in the museum are. And the best part... No guests!!! Except for the photographers of course. I teamed up with @a3nnn and ran around as fast as possible to make the most of it and our time was up.

The lighting that day was perfect for me to take the long exposures I really love and did not need to use trick to make it happen.

She used me as a model. I got to use her. And in the end we also teamed up with some cool other photographers from Belgium.

The exhibit was awesome. And as a visual artist I really enjoyed using the whole museum and the works of Osaka, Wood, and Johansson as my own canvas.

In the end we ended up in the library which has a awesome spiral staircase. Which of course is always awesome! And also had a little chat with the artists themselves.

The results of my photographs are at the bottom of this story. Just click on it on the right or left side to go forward or back. If you want to see the works of the other photographers use #emptyvoorlinden on Instagram. Or just click here haha.

Thank you museum Voorlinden for making this happen!