During the workshop of Patrick Zachmann i did document the life of rejected refugees in Amsterdam. The so called ” Diamand” group is moving from church to church and have no basic rights anymore. I had not more then 3 hours for my shooting session and i am planning to develop this into a llong term project. In addition to this i added the Aix en Provence portfolio shot 2 weeks prior the workshop.
Born in the Netherlands, in 1942. Lives in Giethoorn and enjoys retirement. Started 6 years ago to become active in photography. After having seen the Saul Leiter exhibition in Amsterdam became passionate about photography. Got a master title (BMK) from the Dutch amateur association in 2013. Would like to develop its capabilties in documentary photography.
Portfolio from the Documentary workshop with Patrick Zachmann, September 2014.
Written review by
Independent curator and teacher
On the city project
Positive points: The typical light from the cities of the South is rather well rendered here.
There is a formal unity in the different presented plans: we are more or less always at the same distance from the characters. On another side, we are in a relatively closed space. With a fluidity in the transition from an exterior image to an interior scene. From this point of view, there is a certain visual coherence between the different photographs of this series made in Aix-en-Provence. But this could be modulated, nuanced: see further in the comment.
Reflections: I noticed a certain taste for reflections in another series of street photography pictures in color. With some images that built something pretty well, although the theme of the mirror is quite frequent in street photography. It's better not to overdo it.
The shooting in black and white is made with a digital camera, at least I think so. With vantage points, many details (too many, without a doubt), information, but also inconvenient too: lack of contrasts and interesting blacks. Here, everything is on the same level. In Patrick Zachmann's photography, there are beautiful blacks which we can refer to.
Questions: What do you want to say at the end about this city, other than taking snapshots of people walking in the street ? Sat down in a terrace or reflected in a window?
If the project has an esthetic purpose, it would be required to go further in the framing, composition, light rendering, work with black and white. This lacks of tension between the elements that compose the image, its necessary to create a dynamic inside photography, for example, between the first plan and the back ground. Everything is frontal, on the same level.
On another side, framings are a bit unsure. The scene with a women in the center, another one on the left against the wall and a man on the right could be interesting, but the framing is not controlled. There could be a depth of field more restraint in order to clear a plan and a subject regarding the decor. It's necessary to pick a main motive.
In this sequence, there are a lot of general plans, images where there are too many things to see. The eye does not stare at something or someone in particular. It would be required to clear a little around a subject that needs to be highlighted. It would be interesting to pick up a subject and work around: the women who smokes for example is a good subject, there is a visual idea, even if its an easy one. A snapshot too, with smoke going out of her mouth. In the selection of the presented photographs, some images have a certain quality (this women smoking) and others are weaker (for example, the women behind the chairs of a coffee: what is the subject? Framing and plan are unsure)
Finally, if you want to deliver a message on a certain art or douceur de vivre in a city of Provence, or on a certain atmosphere, I note that few things are said in this direction in this sequence. It does not go far enough. The photograph with the waitress maybe, but her expression is ambiguous and the composition is not very sure.
On the refugees center project
I have about the same remarks as previously.
Positive points: The ambiance is quite interesting and diversified, even if things could be precised a little more. You were able to catch on the opportunity to go into this center. Consequently, we are in the subject, quite close from people. Even very close in some cases. The close up plans are by the way the most interesting of the sequence. There are a lot of elements to make interesting pictures. To deliver a message too. There is a start of a sequence construction : from a wise exterior plan at the beginning, we enter in the place, then we get closer to people.
Questions: We could go farer in the testimony. I know that a few hours only is extremely short. Consequently, we fly above the place. There could be more empathy towards the photographed people. From this point of view, the women laying down with the stripped jersey is interesting, there is an expression on her face: the waiting, the worrying. It would be interesting to develop those expressions.
Formally now, there could be better framings more dynamic compositions, depth of field. Like in the previous subject, everything is a little bit on the same plan. Look at for example how a photographer such as Eugene Richards operates in closed spaces. How he creates a tension in the composition, that go together with the tension of the subject.
Style must not be dissociated with the content. If the subject is strong, style must serve it. In this kind of photography, there is not content without style and conversely.