I recently started a photography project in the Bos & Lommer district in Amsterdam, the city where I live. I offer my neighbours a free portrait session. As I moved to Amsterdam just a year ago, this gives me the opportunity to get to know my neighbours better and to hone my photography skills, especially portraits. The reactions have been great so far; people are genuinely grateful to have some nice pictures taken and furthermore, every foto shoot is a moment of connection between strangers too and that remains something really special. Take for example Vladimir with his dog Timo. Meeting Vladimir was wonderful and meeting Timo meant seeing a dog just happy to be alive. Dogs just give, that’s all they do. Timo leaving his footprint on my jeans did connect me with the following quote I read this morning:
Start today – give, give, give – time, energy, assistance, care, co-operation. On how many levels do you see the opportunity to give? It’s good to be a ‘just do it’ person. Even better to be a ‘just give it’ person. And the paradox will make itself known – when you give you will realise you already have everything you need.
Swiftly he manoeuvred his bike to the right as he approached me. I was totally in the moment, in a meditative state as I always am shooting with my Leica’s. I could not be bothered less. It rained slightly that evening in Amsterdam. Tourists moved from the Central Station towards the city centre. I decided to shoot with the old M8 again, paired with the magnificent Zeiss 28 mm. Furthermore I had set the camera in Jpeg and black and white, inspired by the photo contest (see this post). Reviewing the picture later, it showed a fair amount of under exposure, due to the headlight of the bike pointing directly into the simple centre weighted metering of the Leica. It results in a noisy image, but having the awesome Kodak sensor it yields a nice grain like look-I think.
Citroën 2CV’s have the ability to just go on and on while being eroded to a point you seriously wonder when they will just fall apart. I’ve owned a blue, red and white one (funny: the colours of both the Dutch and French flag) and enjoyed driving these cars so much that I still yearn for owning one….again. This particular one I spotted in Den Haag, while walking down the wet and shiny streets (see this post).
This is awesome: I got interviewed by the renowned Dutch Leica photographer Joeri van der Kloet. Joeri is a friend of me too, so that’s a double whammy eh? No featured photograph this time….just check out the interview 😉
Expressing your love for someone in a way that gives full meaning to what you actually feel on a soul level other than with your touch, is impossible.As I expressed in this post, be able to connect to your soul and someone else’s, enables you to experience life beyond the perceptions made by your mind’s ego.I follow guided soul meditations for some time now for that very reason, but recently got the insight that my love for children is the way my soul is expressing itself at its strongest.Every day I get moved by something I see in a child.The sheer innocence and the playful nature of a child really moves me.This can be a child of a stranger, a child of a loved one and of course my very own daughter.This picture I took from my daughter just a few days ago, is a picture she does not like that very much…but I do.I resonates strongly with what she means to me.One of my favourite guitarists Harry Sacksioni has the gift to transcend the love for his daughter into a truly moving piece of music.As he explains (in Dutch), before playing the song in this video, he composed the music when his daughter Jessa was barely out of the womb. Amazingly but actually not surprisingly, the character of the song totally matches the character of his daughter.
Going against gravity
Using what seems to be opposite to you
To get better in what you already are
Knowing that someone who is caring
is watching you.
Shot at the Amsterdam Central Station with my Olympus OM2-n with Porta 400 film, converted to black and white.
You find yourself in a strange dynamic being a Leica shooter. One day you are being envied and seen as a snob who has spend too much money on a camera that lacks so many features other camera’s have, the other day you are being praised for your pictures you take with it. We live in an era in which the camera itself is a statement and fashion item too, beside being just a tool for creating art of capturing moments. For some people, owning a particular camera seems to be more important than actually shooting with it. I’d guess that’s all right too…whatever floats your boat. Instagram is flooded with ‘eye candy’; just pictures of Leica’s, but also other brands, instead of pictures taken with the camera. Being a substantial financial investment (hence the second hand option I took), it attracts both haters and lovers of the brand and for different reasons. I try not to identify too much with the gear I use, but having said that…..I actually do. I do but more in the sense that this type of camera make me feel they are my soul mates. Not to state something pompously, but the less is more approach of the Leica brand really resonates with me. They really are an extension of my eyes, heart and soul. Stripping the camera of all of the non-essentials enables me to focus (not pun intended) on the key points of my photography: seeing and capturing. I recently saw two Youtube video’s, in which both the M8 and M9 are being praised, despite being ‘old’ and ‘lacking’ or expensive. It prompted me to write this comment:
Hi Mattias, thanks for the effort you have put in this video and the one the M8. It strongly resonates with how I feel using my M8 and M9 (both second hand bought). In this age of ‘low light madness’ and the need for having a camera that does it all (including video), it is refreshing to hear somebody talk about these two camera’s and their specific qualities. What I like the most about using these kind of camera’s, besides obvious things like the IQ, handling, manual focusing and build quality, is ‘the less is more’ approach of Leica. The very reason I still shoot analog besides digital. This makes it not a camera for every one, but if it is it…..it surely becomes a soul mate of you and technical specs will soon be irrelevant :-). You can check out my pictures at http://vincentvankleef.wixsite.com/lightonlight . Cheers, Vincent
Till next time, thanks for reading this post. 🙂
This is a picture a took quite a while ago. I decided to combine two things that I like to do very much; riding my bike and taking pictures. It is my Ducati at the beach you are looking at. The picture is taken with my very first camera, the Minolta X-700. A sweet little camera and a perfect combination of Japanese engineering and design. I have the intention to shoot more analog this year, but the X-700 shall have to compete with the Olympus OM2-n, the Trip 35 and the Yashica Mat 124G (along with my two digital Leica’s)…..
Nature surpasses all concepts of greatness. The wonderful thing is that you can be awed by it in so many ways. As I live in Amsterdam now, all the places that are not occupied by concrete or cars are safe havens for the mind. I took this picture in the Westerpark, a park along a busy road. You can sense the different state of mind of people when they are surrounded by nature, even if it’s a park.
As I stated before in this blog, photography is sort of walking meditation for me. It calms me down and makes me more aware of my environment. I practice meditation at home too, but to be honest I enjoy this kind of calming down the mind more than just sitting down. It is something I cannot do in the companion of someone, let alone the fact that I am not in very communicative state when I am in this mode…..