Trent Parke

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

Like I promised…

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

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

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

Heading straight for the coffee…

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

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

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

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

Before I forget…

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

Well… That is easy. Not much…

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

I always prefer analog but sometimes digital is more practical.

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

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

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

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

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

My why…

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

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

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

I frees my mind…

It gives my emotions a place…

I love him or her…

It gives me inner peace…

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

You still haven’t told me yours…

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

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

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

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

Photography in the end is a search within yourself…

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

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

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

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

But there is more…

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

The drive is bigger…

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

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

I use photography as my medium.

So that is sort of my “why“…

Things I ran into…

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

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

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

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

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

The story continues…

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

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

Aida and Dheisheh refugee camp…

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

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

It has changed… A lot!

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

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

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

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

At the graveyard…

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

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

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

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

Memorial Day…

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

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

The entire city and country stops what they are doing.

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

My lasagna theory…

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

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

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

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

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

But what now…

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

Believe me. I have plenty of anecdotes.

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

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

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

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

One last thing…

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

- Cristian

Andante - Portrait series of the soul. No 2. - Reham by Cristian Geelen

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

A quick date with Kodak Tri-X. by Cristian Geelen

Leftover rolls…

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

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

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

Good excuse to go out and shoot.

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

Just doing random stuff…

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

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

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

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

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

Technical details…

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

Deja Vu…

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

No dust magnet though. So that is a plus…

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

Speaking of legends!

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

No auto focus…

No electronic viewfinder…

No feedback…

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

But I digress!

Like always!

My damn monkey mind…

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

Have a good one….

- Cristian

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

Bags are packed…

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

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

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

I didn’t have that much time…

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

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

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

The start of my adventure…

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

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

The lady with the sign…

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

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

Woohoo!

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

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

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

Sightseeing time!

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

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

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

Time for some noodles and onward with my journey…

And so I did…

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

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

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

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

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

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

Time to kill…

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

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

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

Dragon Ball Z hands and time for bed…

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

Time to rest…

Getting my hands on some film…

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

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

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

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

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

The upcoming days…

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

It broke my heart…

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

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

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

I am not doing that at your home either!

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

Observe. Don’t consume!

You should know better…

Back to the fun stuff!

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

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

Congratulations Vietnam on the cup!

Time to get home…

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

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

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

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

And they did!

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

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

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

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

A couple of days later…

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

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

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

Alina and Tino thanks again!

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

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

And remember…

It is Christmas 365 days a year…

- Cristian

The small KOZP demonstration photo series... by Cristian Geelen

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... by Cristian Geelen

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... by Cristian Geelen

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.

 

Did Instagram kill photography? by Cristian Geelen

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

 

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
 

 

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

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...

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...