Fashionistas?

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Amsterdam / Street photography

Fashionistas

My earliest memory of Amsterdam was a shopping trip with my mother. We lived only 30 kilometers from Amsterdam but everything I saw there was completely new. For the first time in my life I saw a black man. I also spotted a man from India with a turban on his head. It was like entering a different universe. I was reminded of that first visit when I saw this couple coming from a bus. They looked like aliens to me, but then again they might have been very proud fashionistas.

Amsterdam Canals (2)

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Amsterdam / Street photography

Amsterdam Canals (2)

I am not the patient kind of photographer, but standing on a bridge in the midst of the Amsterdam Red Light District always delivers a photo opportunity that makes it worth my while. Apparently these people are celebrating something. They probably planned this days or weeks in advance, they rented or borrowed a boat, loaded it up with beverages and guess what happened? The sun was shining after days of rain. Imagine their surprise.

Refugees

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Amsterdam / Photographs / Random thoughts

Refugees

Since the World Super Powers decided that the Middle East should stay a battle ground for decades to come, a lot of people flee their own bombed out countries. Of course the Super Powers have no intention of hosting the many, many refugees, so instead they end up in Europe. Some have literally nothing, a plastic bag with some belongings. Others bring their own staff and expensive cars.

In the rain (5)

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Random thoughts

Falun Gong

This photograph was taken about 40 meters from where I took the previous one of a desperate looking man. I turned around and I looked at the Chinese brothers and sisters of the Falun Gong [ Wiki ] with a completely different attitude towards rain. Most of us here in rainy Amsterdam look at rain as something unpleasant or disruptive. The Chinese just stand there – hands in the air – as though infinite blessings are raining down on them. They are highly spiritual souls and at the same time practical enough to bring enough rain protection gear.

In the Rain (4)

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Amsterdam / Street photography

In the Rain (4)

I have said it before, I just love to photograph in the rain. Life is not easy but people do not like to show their hardships when they are out for a walk. Unless… it rains. Then suddenly people feel no hesitation to express their true feelings about their day ahead, life in general etc. They slowly become who they really are. This doesn’t mean that all people show their discomforts in the rain. Some are smiling or even dancing in the rain. Well, maybe not so many but I sure am smiling when I am taking pictures like this.

The Age of Narcissus

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About Photography / Amsterdam / Street photography

The Age of Narcissus

Everywhere I look I see photographers and models. They do not think of themselves that way, they are ‘just’ documenting their lives. Some of the greatest photographers however were also just documenting their lives. And some of the greatest models ever did not need to put up a show.
I like that world of imagery and self-reflection.
What I do not like is that some of us cannot read an E-mail longer than fifteen words before they lose their concentration, because they are so used to a society saturated with images. To be able to read you need to think and thinking is creating images in your own head without the help of a pain-in-the-ass smart phone sending out so many obnoxious notifications that you slowly become a numbed slave of a network without a name and without responsibilities.

Where I live

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Amsterdam / Street photography

Where I live

I love where I live. It is in the heart of Amsterdam’s Red Light District. It used to be very unsafe here, but today the junkies and dealers have traded places with thousands of tourists. I am not saying it will stay this way forever, because we can see some deterioration going on here and there, but the city council is right on it, so we expect to see some slow improvements in the coming decades. I even loved this part of the city when it was our very own Hell’s Kitchen with junkies crawling all over the place. As a rule junkies are too softhearted to go about the daily routines as we all have to do. You do not go for heroin if you plan to be an aggressor. It is the dealers we have to watch out for, but as I stated before it is mostly entertainment here now. Some very famous bars for gays and drag queens took over the Zeedijk – once the artery of heroin trade in Amsterdam. So there is a lot to do and a lot to photograph.

Spring

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Amsterdam / Street photography

Spring

On one hand I long for spring and on the other I like winters, snow and rain. We do not get much snow in The Netherlands lately but that is very well compensated with extra rain. Rain is ideal for street photography and so is fog. As a studio photographer I think of clouds as the softboxes I really miss when the summer sun is creating too much contrast, but at times that can be fun too.

In the Rain

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Amsterdam / Street photography

Umbrellas

I did not even notice that it was starting to rain. Once I start looking for scenes I want to photograph I get a natural high. I do not even remember if I turned around to look over my shoulder to see what was so interesting in the eyes of this couple. The natural high forces me to move on and on to look for new opportunities. It sounds a bit neurotic and stressful but in fact it is quite relaxing.

Couples

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Amsterdam / Street photography

Couple

I do not own a lot of cameras like most photographers, but I have three. The most important one is the camera I work with in the studio. Strangely enough that camera, the Nikon 810, is just a work horse for me, I have no special affinity with it except for the fact that it delivers great images.

If I treat myself to an afternoon of stressless street photography, I like to pick up the Canon XC10, which is basically a product nobody likes. It was promoted as a professional 4K camera, but it is more of a fancy camcorder. It has a setting for photography too, delivering 12 megapixel pictures. Despite the many negative reviews the camera received, I absolutely adore it. I use it for both video and photography.

The picture above was taken with the photo function of the XC10. A couple standing at the canal. They look like they have been together for a long, long time. Despite their different features they somehow started to look alike. A process that has taken them years, I guess.

BTW, this was the last time ever I will discuss cameras or photographic techniques, because – as most of us know – photography is never about technique, it always about light and composition.

Harley Davidson (1)

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Photographs

Harley Davidson

One of my early assignments was to photograph women who owned a Harley Davidson. Back then in 1979 I thought it was looking for a needle in a hay stack, but I actually found quite a few women riding Harleys. It was a fun series to do, because I like Harleys and I like women.

Baja California

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Photographs / Random thoughts

Baja California

I am not much of a traveller these days but I used to wonder the globe as a photojournalist until I was so fed up with it all that I decided to go for a desk job. That became boring even sooner than I could have ever imagined. So once over I started my own company. Home based so that I would have all the comfort in the world while still getting to meet interesting people. I know where and when I really lost my interest in traveling for the magazine. It was in 1981 traveling from Los Angeles to La Paz in a blue Toyota with American license plates. At that time the feelings of Mexicans where quite hostile towards Americans. I expect very little has changed since then.

The Sun

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Amsterdam / Street photography

The Sun

Like many people who live in Amsterdam I long for sun at times, because it can be very rainy and windy at times. Mostly however the sun hides behind a thick deck of clouds. And that is exactly what makes me forget to long for sunnier days. The clouds act like the soft boxes in my studio. They create an almost shadowless light that makes it easier to do street photography. The picture above was made on a hot and sunny day and somehow the harsh contrasts of bright sunlight really work for this particular photograph but I look at it as an exception to the rule.