Who are you shooting for? by Cristian Geelen

"Who are you shooting for?"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Capturing Kick Off Alliantie Genderdiversiteit by Cristian Geelen

Gender diversity and photography...

Like always I love telling the story of our world. And knowing this story isn't told that much, I was more than happy to say yes when I was invited to shoot at the kickoff of the alliance of gender diversity.

The alliance is made out of multiple of organisations that are trying to break through the stereotypical image how the society looks at gender. And the alliance is consists at the moment of writing out of Movisie, Atria, COC, Doetank PEER, Emancipator, NNID, Nederlands Jeugd Instituut, Rutgers, School & Veiligheid, Transgender Netwerk Nederland en Universiteit van Amsterdam Pedagogie.

Those are all dutch organizations, but who knows... Maybe in the future there will be some international ones.

The kickoff was being held in a event center named "the colour kitchen". And like all event centers or congress centers, it is really really really dark...

So that provided me with some sort of a challenge. So here comes the technical part.

I chose to shoot without flash, because otherwise in a intimate setting the talks of the speakers were constantly disrupted by flashes. And for me, if you want to capture the decisive moment, you have to be discreet...

So I put my trusty Olympus on silent mode and started shooting. I can't say one value for the EXIF data, because I was constantly adjusting my settings. Everything was done in manual mode. ISO varied from 8000 and lower... It all depended how close I was to the big screen in the front. And same goes for aperture. That was constantly shifting between 5.6 and 2.8. Shutter speed shifted between 1/250 and a 1/125. That was because I wanted the people to be frozen, and in this case, not see any motion blur.

Not only I was happy shooting at this event because there were some special individuals, but also during my photographing I listened to the speakers. It gave me another perspective again in how everyone looks at life, and so that meant another chance to learn. 

Most people are only interested in the technical part of photography. But for me... Technical skills are only a part of that. It is if you do photography with your heart you will see someones soul for real and put emotion in your photograph.

If you are interested you can find more information on their Facebook page here. And information about Doetank Peer you can find here.


Armando Aid Fundraiser - November 18th. by Cristian Geelen

On November 18th there will be a fundraiser for Armando Aid.

Armando Aid is a organization that is providing education to refugee children. That is one beautiful concept right?

This event specifically will be a Christmas fundraiser to raise money for a new educational program in Europe and the Middle East.

The organization has no official funding or support and relies solely on fundraisers and personal donations.

The day will be filled with live music and comedy. And there will be a auction where art will be for sale.

That is also one of the reason I am writing about this. I not only think it is a good organization, but I will also be contributing to the aid. I donate one of my prints that is specially printed on fujifilm paper that lasts a lifetime. And I really love the way it made my photograph come to life... The print I donated is on the bottom of this posts.

The fundraiser is being held in London so if you are in the neighborhood maybe you could pay a visit. All information can be found here and and you can get tickets here.

Otherwise there are other ways to support this organization. For example you can donate some money here. But you can also contribute in other ways. Like you can be a teacher or a Gardner on location. Best thing you can do if you want to read about that is on the get involved page.

This organization already has done so much good, and managed to educate a lot of people so it would be wonderful if they could do it for many more years to come!



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

It is Saturday October 14th 2017...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Capturing souls and telling the story!

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

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

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

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


Voorlinden Empty Meet. The results! by Cristian Geelen

October 8th 2017...

For me a exciting day!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thank you museum Voorlinden for making this happen!


Voorlinden empty meet! The info! by Cristian Geelen

It is a saturday night and I am going to bed early. Why?

Well. Most of the time because I am getting old. But this time because I am teaming up with other Instagram photographers to shoot in a empty museum Voorlinden!!!

That is so cool!

We get to run around and shoot in the works of Michael Johansson, and Shio Kusaka en Jonas Wood.

There is a awesome exposition going on, and we can use the entire terrain as one big playground. So if it poked your interest don't forget to check my Instagram stories tomorrow.

More about the expositions can be found here and here

More information about the museum can be found here.

And of course, don't forget to follow me on Instagram!

Souls of Iran... by Cristian Geelen

June fifth... Monday


It was time for me to fly to Iran. It was a bit iffy if would still be able to go because I had some trouble with with my visa. Which in retrospect was my own fault, but I found out about that a week before I left. So I decided to wing it!

Visa on arrival it is!

I was a bit scared I wouldn't get one because I was in Israel earlier, but got one in about half an hour or something. So jeej! In the country! Was a bit confusing where to get my visa because well... My farsi isn't that good haha.

When i was through customs I was waited on by a wonderful man named Fazel. Met him on facebook and wanted to help me get a good start. So he helped me exchange money, got me a Iranian sim card, and made sure i was able to catch my bus. The bus to Isfahan that is, because that was my first big stop.

The airport is about a hour from Tehran so also a hour from the bus station. And my plane landed late at night. But he was confident I would make it. And boy did I make it. We hopped in his pick-up truck, threw my backpack in the back, and he even got me some fruit. When we were driving he had a idea I would sure make it. After driving for a while he parked the truck a the side of the highway and asked me get my backpack and just follow him. I was like; okay... So followed him, and we crossed the highway. But even in the middle of the night it is still very busy, so that was quite the experience haha. He started running towards a bus, and arranged something with the driver. Gave him some money, and a couple of hours later I was in Isfahan.

Of course when I was reading about Iran I read about the Iranian hospitality and the kindness of the people living there. But you only know what it is when you are there.   During my first walk through the city and creating big ass blisters I got stopped by so many people that just wanted to have a talk with me. Not like in some other places, that in the end they are trying to sell you something, but are genuinely interested in you. They are curious where you are from, what you do, all the girls want to know if you have got a girlfriend haha. But it doesn't feel forced or anything. Most of the time the people i have met just wanted to tell what they do, they study, passed a certain exam, or just talk about their passions. It was a nice change of pace in comparison to the Netherlands where everyone is to rushed.

I started to chill out at the biggest bridge in Isfahan, the Si-o-seh-pol bridge. It has got 33 arches and because the arches you are able to sit at water level so you can cool down from the heat. And damn, it was so warm!!! The rest of the afternoon I talked with some local girls because they were so curious who the big blonde guy was hanging out there, and that seemed to be a blue print for the rest of my trip. Every person guy, girl, young, or old started a conversation.






According to the woman who were working in the hotel in Shiraz where I also stayed I look like a Ken doll... You know, the one from barbie. Never expected to hear that hahah. 

Anyways, back to Isfahan.

Said goodbye and with my cooled down feet I started to look for food. That was quite difficult because it was Ramadan. But another nice person, a gentleman around his fifties guided me to one of the places where I could get some food so i could eat it after sunset. Gave me his number, so if i needed to know anything I could give him a call. That was so nice! As soon as the sun started setting the park at the end of the bridge started filling up with families who were having big ass picnics with their families and chill out as much as possible. Other people read some poetry at the waterfront. But it was one social event. And that every night... Sat down  a bit later to eat my own food. But with all the BBQ's preset i really didn't need to buy my food. So much food everywhere, and everyone wanted to share. Eventually before i went to bed I made a nice long exposure of the bridge.







Damn, so much story already in one day!

In the upcoming days in Isfahan I met a lot of new people, and even a couple of other tourist. Peter, the awesome dude who was riding his bicycle through the entire middle east. Even through deserts and shit. That dude is a boss! And two Germans named Marc and Max. And of course a lot of more local people.

I met Marc and Max at the rooftop of the hotel/hostel is was staying. And right before that I got bombarded with a shitload of text messages because there has been a terrorist attack in Tehran. But Tehran is six hours from Isfahan, so wasn't worried about that. Drank my saffron tea, and made it through the afternoon heat. Marc and Max are also photographers and we did a photo walk through the city. Super nice guys! 

It was nice to eventually meet some other tourist actually, because you don't see that many in Iran. At least not during the time I was there with Ramadan. And in a country where you are completely cutoff from the outside world, and no working credit cards, and other stuff. It was a guess some sort of a safe feeling i guess? Anyways, back to the story!

I made myself a rigorous schedule and wanted to see as much as possible. And i'm sure if will forget to tell about a lot! But i can always tell that later! So after a lot of more walking and photographing I hopped on the overnight bus the Shiraz! And i will never forget the old taxi driver was singing along with a American love song in his best English.

Enter Shiraz...

Shiraz is completely different than Isfahan. Not bad, just different. And the same game plan. Walking like a idiot with my camera. Trying not to melt. And later figuring out why the river over here was dry... It was even hotter! And also, global warming has it's effect here too... It did not rain for four years! I guess that's also the reason my all-stars melted...

One of the coolest things in Shiraz I have experienced when I was walking towards Eram garden. The Eram is a botanical garden that they somehow keep hydrated in the hottest and driest place i have ever been. That fact alone is really impressive.

I was really grumpy because of the heat. And the trip was a hell of a longer walk than I expected and Google maps told me (Silly Google maps...)... So halfway I bumped into two young Iranian girls. They were sixteen years old, and I guess the same as every sixteen year old girls in other places around the world. The were all giddy and nervous the big blonde guy was talking to them.

They guided me towards the garden and even paid for my entrance fee. Hung out all afternoon and they told me about their culture, I told them about mine. And how it is like to live in the Netherlands. Showed some pictures and videos.

It was time for me to head back to the place where I stayed the night. So I tried to say goodbye but they were having none of it. One of the girls dad was a cab driver and she said he wanted to pick me up. And I was like; yeah sure why not. I rather spend my money with someone who was so nice and his daughters gave me a entire tour though the garden than giving my money to a stranger.

So a hour later the dad picked my up. But before I was back in my hotel i got a entire tour though the city and he made sure I ate the local ice-cream. It was a sort of spaghetti ice-cream. Not real spaghetti of course. But it looked like it. And after such a warm long day it was just what I needed!

During the ride they have song some local pop song from the radio. Did some dancing in the car. And I had no idea what I was singing. But at least it sounded fun haha.

They dropped me of and didn't even want to have money. I left some anyway on the dashboard... The family was really sad to see me leave. But they really wanted me to be sure I was safely continuing my journey. So the next night they picked me up. And made sure I was at the correct night bus of to Yazd. Gave them such a big hug for all the good care they have had given me. They were such a nice people and kind souls!






Of course my journey continued to Yazd and than Tehran. Where i would meet David, another German, and reunite with Fazel again. But those stories I will leave for later on...

I'm planning on writing the stories for another book or maybe even a small exposition if I can find a location. You you guys and girls can read the rest of the stories when that is happening haha. Or maybe I will devote a second blog part about it so I can tell about my adventures with David.

Iran, you were bautiful...