Bill Haley

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Photographs

Bill Haley 1980

It was during his last European tour (1980) that I photographed Bill Haley, famous for his hit Rock Around the Clock. To me he was a legendary, almost mythical figure and I had not expected him to invite me into his dressing room to have a look at my photographs of Dutch rockers. That is partially why this photo is quite unique. There are not many photographs of Bil Haley with his glasses on.

There are two limited edition prints available on my main website:

Bill Haley – Close up + The photo posted here.

Snow

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Photographs

Snow

I like snow and the last few years it has not been snowing in The Netherlands. Instead we have rainy, windy winters with hardly any frost. This photograph was taken 5 or 6 years ago. I was so excited I must have shot hundreds of photographs before the snow melted away again after a few days.

Amsterdam Canals (1)

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Amsterdam / Photographs / Street photography

Amsterdam Canals (1)

I really like the small boats some Amsterdam inhabitants keep for entertainment. The canals can be very busy with larger sightseeing ships for tourists, so it takes a bit of courage too to take your partner or your friends out on a trip over the canals. I just love to photograph these small floating households and I have been doing so for many years so expect more of these pictures to come.

Greasers

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Amsterdam / Photographs

Greasers

As a young photographer I preferred the safety of the studio above assignments in the field. The magazine I worked for wanted documentary photography, preferably scenes of desperate people in hopeless situations and I just did not have the stomach for that kind of photography. Forget about the ground rule that sex sells. Human misery sells even better when it comes to photojournalism. So I decided to do documentary photography in my studio. I invited groups of people over, photographed and interviewed them. The first major series I published was called Greasers in 1977. The series became a success and the editors seemed to like the idea of some studio photography in their magazine.

See more of this series: here.

New York Blizzard 1983

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Public Transport / Street photography

New York Blizzard 1983

In 1981 I left for New York with 50 dollars and a one way ticket, leaving behind a job as a photographer for a Dutch Magazine. I was bored with the fact that Amsterdam was getting more and more depressing, caused by clashes between squatters and police. Also the magazine was sending me out on assignments that were all quite identical. I was 27 and I wanted to see more of this world. The idea was to send my pictures over to Amsterdam and to receive the money in NY where I lived with a girlfriend.

Things worked out the way I wanted them to, except for one thing: 1 Dutch guilder converted to 25 dollar cents at the time. So, my salary was good for half of the rent we paid in Manhattan. Without money to apply for a green card I eventually ended up with two rolls of film and no assignments. Then the New York Blizzard came and I spent those two rolls of film on that particular subject. These were probably the best shots I ever made, because I was so aware of the fact that there were just two films left before I had to leave New York to go home.

The Pigeon Man

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Dam Square / Street photography

The Pigeon Man

Instead of going to an amusement park or some far out place – like kids do now – my mother would take me to Dam Square in Amsterdam to see the pigeon man. We bought some seeds from him and let the pigeons crawl over us in search of the seeds we had just bought. The original pigeon man of my youth also carried a Leica camera and occasionally we had our photo taken by him. Today there is not just one pigeon man but at least 5 pigeon men are fighting with each other to get the business.

Public Transport

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Public Transport

Public Transport

I really love to photograph people in subways, trains and buses. It is much harder to not attract their attention as you have seen in the previous photograph, but people are really locked into themselves as they travel. They are aware of being watched and instead of contacting others they withdraw and there is some sad beauty in that.

Hartjesdagen

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Amsterdam / Street photography

Hartjesdagen

An event photographer I am not. There are too many cameras around and it is too crowded to do what I do best. There is one exception to this rule and that is Amsterdam’s event called Hartjesdagen. Hartjes is now being translated as hearts, but the original Dutch word probably meant ‘hertjes’ which is to be translated as small deer.

The festivities are a revival of an old Amsterdam tradition to give temporary hunting rights to the poor in autumn so they would have enough food to survive the winter. In celebration of these rights men would dress as women and women would dress as men. Today it is mostly a parade for Drag Queens.

Iselmar

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Photographs

Iselmar

I love ships, even the smaller boats in the Amsterdam canals used for entertainment. These two sailing ships were photographed on a Dutch lake that used to have an open sea connection and was called the Zuiderzee. (Southern Sea) The Zuiderzee was once used as a sailing route to Amsterdam and smaller Dutch ports for trading vessels. In 1927 the Dutch government started to connect two Dutch provinces with a highway on a dyke, closing off the Zuiderzee from open waters. It is now called the IJsselmeer by the Dutch speaking majority and Iselmar by the Dutch who speak both Dutch and the Frisian language.

The Twilight Zone

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Amsterdam / Street photography

The Fair

My ex was over for a visit and we spent so much time avoiding awkward subjects that she almost missed the last train home. So we rushed out, still in the midst of a conversation and I vaguely noticed the men constructing the yearly fair in front of my apartment building. We were at the station just in time for the last train and I waved her goodbye with a premonition that I would never see her again.

So on my way home it seemed like a good occasion to sink a few drinks at a local night club. I remember walking home, not really aware of the people around me, still thinking about that ex and the subjects we had discussed until I reached the entrance of my apartment building where the construction above was erected.

The Café Correct. It looked like something that had plunged straight out of the sky or was put there by aliens. Maybe something out of the Twilight Zone. I just had to take a picture. Next morning I walked out and I was actually surprised it was still standing there and that it was not a product of my imagination.

Oh Vienna

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Amsterdam / Street photography

Dam Square

I joined a real street photographer for an afternoon walk through Amsterdam and some hanging around Dam Square. Like a good studio photographer I shot about 600 pictures, while he shot about twenty. When I uploaded them to my computer, the one above actually came as a surprise. It was as if I had not made that photograph. It didn’t even seem to be taken in Amsterdam. One would think it was taken in Vienna. Of course we do have some horses and carriages in the city for sightseeing purposes, but that does not explain the way the child is dressed. He or she looks like a character straight out of Visconti’s film Death in Venice.

Premieres

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Amsterdam / Street photography

Demonstrating Prostitutes Amsterdam

The city of Amsterdam and its inhabitants have a soft spot for premieres. The first Free Needle Plan to fight HIV and Hepatitis among junkies was an Amsterdam initiative. So was gay marriage. And I believe that the demonstration of sex workers in The Red Light District was a premiere too for the Western World. You are looking at the heart of the city, the Red Light District where window prostitutes are lined up to march to the city council to fight for better regulation of sex work in the area. 2014