Photo Stories

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

Andante…

Or in other words… Slow…

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

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

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

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

Time…

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

That’s why it is so valuable.

Reham…

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

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

She is one smart cookie.

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

My process….

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

I wanted to capture her power!

Her heart.

And eventually her soul…

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

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

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

So hereby…

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

- Cristian

Women's March 2019

Hey everyone!

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

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

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

- Cristian

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

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.

 

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...

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.