analog

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

Art exhibition Park Hotel starting January 19th by Cristian Geelen

Finally I can scream it from the rooftops!

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

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

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

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

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

The address is:

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

 

The importance of printing your work... by Cristian Geelen

The doorbell rang..

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Am I there yet?

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

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

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

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

Fuck... Are you getting dizzy yet?

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

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

Here is why:

Because you rule!

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

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

Until next time...

- Cristian

Who are you shooting for? by Cristian Geelen

"Who are you shooting for?"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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