Author: Art Narratives Staff

“I really look at everything – the smallest details of how everything has taken shape in the editing and finishing, and of course, how the soul of the whole is brought forward. That’s why I find photobooks so fascinating because it tells a lot about the photographers and designers’ choices.

I must be honest that photography fascinates me when it’s about something factual, I’m a documentary photographer, the abundance of aesthetic that has crept into photography in recent years is really disturbing to me sometimes. Everything should be beautiful. With (Un)expected I sometimes took less aesthetic choices because the content comes first. What’s great about a strong photo book is it isn’t a standard sum of parts. Aesthetic images don’t necessary ensure a good photo book. The content, edit, the text and graphic design can make the work be a very intense experience, if every choice is well made.”

(Un)expected by Peter Dekens (4/4)

“A key moment was when I started talking to fellow survivor relatives. There were many similarities that I discovered, numerous experiences and sentiments that we shared. Most of them had not anticipated or seen warning signs that the person would step out of life; however, at same time, there was nearly always fear and tension for years prior to the death that often stemmed from psychological problems.The relatives are all coping in different manners and trying to finding different ways of moving on. But, I was surprised that some relatives felt a sort of relief after the death. Everybody felt guilty about this feeling but the relief seemed to be quite a normal sentiment for some, especially if the person who died had a long history of needing psychiatric help. Of course, you have the same deep feelings of mourning but it feels strange that you can feel relief after losing someone you love. For survivors, the fact that they lost their loved one to suicide remains a shock, compounded by feelings of impotence and the questions that will remain unanswered for eternity.”

(Un)expected by Peter Dekens (2/4)

“I am very inspired by the timelessness of things and places, the feeling of nostalgia, the importance of history, the depth. A lot of that brings me back to my childhood too. It’s a sense of familiarity that I can relate to. It’s easier to manage things that I already understand well. There needs to be meaning in the images that I make, even if this meaning is not immediately obvious to the viewer. Nostalgia is a very psychological thing.”

Andrea, 2014 by Sebastian Cvitanic (4/4)

“Having explored almost every type of photography that I could, I was drawn mainly to portraiture because of the human connection. It is incredibly important for me to document that connection between two people or between myself and my subject. I couldn’t get that feeling when I was doing landscape or street photography, photojournalism, conceptual work, yearbook photography, or weddings. In portraiture, the people that I photograph teach me so much. No other form of photography has provided me with such a wealth of wisdom about humanity. I always loved the portraits that were done by the master painters like Renoir, Monet, Degas and Cezanne in France, and Vermeer and Rembrandt in the Netherlands and drew technical inspiration from them. My choices of colors, shadows, composition, geometry, can all be traced back to these artists. And I’ve always admired the Cinema Verite movement of cinema that deals with reality as opposed to artificiality, in an almost documentary way. I wanted to create my own sort of “truthful cinema” through my portrait photographs, provocative and yet still observational. I also know quality portraiture is one of the most difficult forms of photography there is, and I love a good challenge.”⠀

Katlyn and Sariviya, 2015 by Sebastian Cvitanic (2/4)

“As I mentioned earlier, I limited the photographic subject deliberately. But I came to recognise that there were other limitations at play, such as those arising from my own personal preferences; these sometimes the result of my own experiences, my own nature. And I, too, had my own inner preoccupations: leaving behind a sick father and other family matters in the Netherlands. Something as simple as wanting to send him a postcard before I left could put a limitation on the work.

And did I really capture what was typically Dublin? Or Athens? Reykjavik or Ankara? After all, my observations were only moments in time. Was it a normal working day or holiday time? Even the sun shining or the rain falling could make a great difference. Moreover I was only a visitor, passing through. That was just one more limitation I had to reckon with.”⠀

Crossing Europe by Poike Stomps (4/4)

“Photography is a means and not an end in itself for me. I feel particularly attracted to difficult and challenging issues that do not get as much media attention-very human themes that we can all learn from. Photography is a way to get to people to learn about the complexities of life. By interacting with people, gaining deeper insights into their struggles, I attempt to understand what went wrong and why. And even if I am unable to find those answers, my work has led me to continuously question life. After a project, I often feel richer as a person and I look at the world differently. The themes of my individual projects often depart from a larger theme, then I start digging deeper until I see something intimate and deeply human.”

(Un)expected by Peter Dekens (3/4)

“(Un)expected is a photo project about the coping process of surviving relatives of suicides in West Flanders (Belgium). The book contains five stories about how these people cope with their loss in different ways: the sadness, the grieving process, but also the attempts at finding a new way to live.
In 2008, my mother stepped out of life and quite recently a friend did the same. West Flanders, the region where I grew up, has a relatively high percentage of suicides: one and a half times the European average and twice as many as in the Netherlands. Every month 20 people commit suicide in West Flanders.
My mother’s death was the most traumatizing death for me, especially as it is a suicide. The death of my friend was ultimately the trigger that led me to make a project on this theme. For the survivors, the suicide will always present lingering questions which will never be answered.”

(Un)expected by Peter Dekens (1/4)

“Growing up in Chile in the 80s, I had the minimum amount of things necessary in order to simply live. Because of this, I appreciate the simplicity of things a hundred times more. Keeping a sense of equality was imperative in those times, and that mindset shows a lot in my work in keeping, for example, a balanced color palette to create a sense of cohesion and unity between all the images of different subjects regardless of where the photograph was taken. Superficial photography, like the excessive application of Photoshop tools and tricks, really unsettles me in a number of ways, and I usually end up rejecting those types of projects so that I might stay more aligned with my core values. The fashion industry specifically can be very superficial at times and so it is common for me to turn away this kind of work.”

Bethany, 2017 by Sebastian Cvitanic (3/4)

“When I am making a portrait, the two states of introspection and confrontation are incredibly important to me. People are usually in an introspective state already as we begin our work together but if they aren’t, I might prompt it in an indirect way and capture it as it forms– people are very beautiful as they already are when they’re looking inward. After that introspection there’s always a crucial moment of intensity that I can count on when the visual communication occurs between us like a burst and it usually happens very quickly– in a matter of less than seconds– so I have to be ready to catch it. That is the very direct gaze you can see in many of my portraits. It’s almost like a ritual, a very profound moment of energy and emotion that crosses barriers. I am a firm believer that beauty is emotional and creating a space and time where emotion is not only accepted but encouraged and desired is the surest way to create something beautiful and meaningful.”

Hannah, 2016 by Sebastian Cvitanic (1/4)

“The specific moments that I chose to photograph were when people needed to cross the street; somewhere, anywhere. That would give me a starting point from which to learn how people behaved. I saw them hesitate or hurry, being irritated or waiting patiently; following the rules or deliberately ignoring them. Where was their focus? Within themselves or out on their own personal goal. Were they paying attention to the other people around them? Was there some kind of communication? Did they interact intentionally? What was chance or coincidence? It takes several seconds to walk over to the other side, enough time for plenty of minor encounters. And if you looked closely, you saw many little stories being told: people reacting to people. Just as in the wider world. A crossing: a metaphor for human life. ”

Crossing Europe by Poike Stomps (3/4)