Photos Of The Day: "Beach Portraits"
I love photography that comes in series. It tells me a story, it has something to it. I also like photographing in series my self. Therefore I'm always super curious about other people's work. When I stumbled across a series of (pre) adolescent kids on a beach, it immediately pulled me in.
The work "beach portraits" by Dutch photographer Rineke Dijkstra comes in a series while still concentrating on individual portraits. The minimal background makes you focus on the subject right away and the simplicity of the portrait highlights everything special about the person it portrays. I found a little interview about her work on POPULAR PHOTOGRAPHY and all the questions/answers below are excerpts from there!
I hope you enjoy her work as much as I do.
Oct. 25, 2017
Labels: On track, May I introduce
How did you come up with the idea for the 'Beach' series?
I broke my hip about 15 years ago and started doing self-portraits after swimming in the pool where I was doing physiotherapy. I was fascinated by capturing something unconscious and natural in a photograph, something that was miles away from the boring and predictable businessmen I had until then mostly photographed. I was interested in photographing people at moments when they had dropped all pretence of a pose. Once I began taking these pictures, I realized I would prefer to do a series because it gave me a better grip on a subject.
What equipment do you use?
I use a 4x5 inch field camera with a standard lens and a tripod. The negatives are the size of postcards, which gives you really wonderful sharp detail and contrast. The end result is that your photograph is almost more real than reality.
How do you edit your pictures?
I scan the negatives and make them bigger so you can see more. Then I might leave them for two weeks because you need distance to see properly. It happens to me that I take a picture and I think it doesn't work at all and then I look at it three years later and I think it's a great picture. It's probably linked to having something in mind and being disappointed that your expectations weren't met, but then realizing later that it was in fact a lucky moment. But in general I make sure the light, the facial expression and the posture of the body look right.
Where do you get your inspiration?
I like the work of contemporary portrait photographers like Thomas Struth, Paul Graham and Judith Joy Ross as well as some of the older generation, in particular Diane Arbus and August Sander a lot, but generally I get more out of looking at old paintings such as the Rembrandts, Vermeers and Versproncks at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. I think the light, as well as the emotional and psychological forces at play are so incredible in those paintings. I prefer the old classics to contemporary art shows.
What art form does photography come closest to?
Perhaps sculpture. I think it's important that people understand and look at photography in a more abstract way. It's about being able to imagine looking behind the image as if it was three-dimensional.
Why do you print your images large format?
I like it when a picture is monumental - especially in a museum setting. But for me it's also important that if you stand in front of my picture, you feel the urge to come closer. If photos are too large, people tend to look at them only from a distance. I like them to be printed big enough so people view them from a distance but small enough so that they step forward and look for all the details in the picture. I think there is a whole story in all those details. It's about intimacy too.
Do you ever do editorial work?
When I first left art school I did portraits for magazines and newspapers but found it difficult because I wanted to create something more substantial that related to everybody, not just to one specific person. I learned a lot about how to be technical, how to work with people and how to work fast, but now I'm more interested in my personal projects. Occasionally I do assignments for The New York Times Magazine.
Do you think people can learn a certain way of seeing?
I think everybody can do it. Diane Arbus said that you just have to choose a subject and continue photographing it for as long as something comes out of it. You always have to use your own fascinations as a starting point. It's the same if you are in a group of people: you will always look at the people who are the most interesting to you. The same goes for photography, you have to photograph what you like. Passion is really important.
What excites you most about photography?
I love being totally in the moment, when everything comes together and is just right. You actually see things clearer. But I can spend weeks in the park without ever seeing anything interesting and I never know whether it is because it simply isn't there or because I just didn't see it.
What makes one image stand out more than another?
A photograph works best when the formal aspects such as light, colour and composition, as well as the informal aspects like someone's gaze or gesture come together. In my pictures I also look for a sense of stillness and serenity. I like it when everything is reduced to its essence. You try to get things to reach a climax. A moment of truth.