In my new artist talk series I will be bringing forward photographers from different areas in the photographic field. In this weeks photographer interview we have a dutch visual artist Daphne Oude Geerdink, who explores identity and human behaviour through intimate documentation. Daphne talks about her latest project I Am OK where she addresses mental health issues from a personal perspective.
How did your photography journey start?
From a young age I always used to draw, thinking I would go to art academy to pursue a career in illustration or fine art. I think it was around the age of 14 or 15 that I became interested in photography. Not in a very serious way at first; it was a way of expressing myself through photoshoots with friends. We would dress up and take photos of each other in a very playful way. I loved that photography gave an immediate result and the medium of photography worked a lot better with the ideas that I had and wanted to create. Unlike in drawing where I felt very stuck after a while and I realised quickly that it wasn’t something I would be able to make a career out of.
At the age between 18 and 20 I became more serious about photography; I discovered the work of Tim Walker and instantly fell in love with photography. I was absolutely amazed by his work, the compositions, his storytelling, the sets, the drama – I just loved everything about it. From that moment on I wanted to dive into that world. In the beginning I saved money to get my first DSLR camera and I got into a whole photo community on Flickr which encouraged me to experiment and explore the field more. I started taking self-portraits as a way of expressing myself. Taking these portraits was also the easiest way for me to get to know my camera, feel comfortable in trying something new and composing an image. And from there I slowly grew into the photographer I am today.
Describe your work – what are the topics you’re drawn to?
The thread that connects all my work is identity and the sense of belonging. I’ve never been good in describing things so photography became my tool to communicate what I experienced.
It’s how I try to understand my own thoughts and how I see the world. Within the topic of identity I was asking the questions ‘who am I and how do I see the world’ ? I’m interested in exploring gender, intimacy, body language and representation. These topics come naturally, it’s such a big part of who I am and what’s around me from day to day. And sometimes it’s something frustrating, to the point where I start making work about it.
For example my latest work, I Am OK is about mental health issues, something that I have suffered from for over a decade. It’s not the essence of who I am, but it’s a big part of my life and sometimes a huge frustration not being able to communicate openly about it. I started documenting my life as a diary which at first wasn’t something I planned on, but something that instinctively happened.
Tell us more about your photographic process.
I’m shooting only analogue since 2019 I think. I used to shoot digital when I was studying and in my spare time I tried to shoot analogue as well. The biggest reason for me for this medium is the required patience one has to have. I noticed I had to really look closely and take my time, every shot costs money. My photos turned out better as a result, giving patience to myself helped me develop myself. I love the slow process and it makes me admire and appreciate the medium.
My biggest issue with shooting digital is that I shot too many images, it always felt hasty and the process of editing was something I dreaded. I’m quite the perfectionist and I had way too many options when I started editing a RAW image. Shooting with film gives me more peace, I can choose the film for what kind of mood I’m looking for and the colours are roughly what I want. With only shooting analogue being very conscious decision I made, it also gives me a better structure to work with. And of course the magic of getting your films developed never gets boring.
As in how my process goes, I have ups and downs with inspiring periods. I try not to let it affect me too much, because it’s not possible to be inspired ALL the time. I have a small 35mm point and shoot camera (that I got from my uncle) which I use as my diary camera. So even in times when I’m not inspired, I still try to shoot my daily life.
Have you studied photography?
I did a prep year at ArtEZ in Enschede, NL, to see if I would enjoy an art academy setting. It was a preparatory year which included a small course of photography, graphic design and fine art. I got into KABK, The Hague, NL a year later. I am super appreciative that I could do the photography course at KABK. Even though the academy might sometimes feel quite faculty-like in their way of teaching, I learned alot even when I didn’t feel I was fitting the mould.
When I started this study I hardly knew anything from the art world or the techniques of photography. I had never worked in a studio or used studio lighting, I still wouldn’t say I’m the best in technique, (I was always more interested in story telling) but I learned a lot. I mostly appreciate that it made me more critical in looking at art and that I met a lot of my friends and like-minded people.
Sometimes I feel like I learned more from my peers than teachers. Mainly because we had to talk about each others work so much. Even though I sometimes felt really out of place at the academy, it was bitter sweet for me. If I could do it again, I definitely would. I don’t believe that you need a diploma to become a good photographer, but for me it was definitely worth studying at an art academy.
What are your photography goals?
I always find it quite difficult to pin point down what I want to do in the future. I would love to show my work all over the world, in exhibition, print or book format. And something that I miss right now due Covid-19 is working with other people! It’s a major goal that I would absolutely love collaborating again, in making anything together, could be in publishing or creating an image together. Just to make a living from my photography is the biggest goal right now.
Any inspirational artists you find inspiring ?
My biggest inspiration for years right now is Lina Scheynius. I find her work so comforting and so intimate without really knowing her personal life. Other artists that I find inspiring really change from time to time. Right now I also enjoy the works of of Li Hui, Harley Weir, Laurence Philomene, Michaela Stark, Molly Matalon and Marlene Dumas.
What advice would you give to someone wanting to start photography?
Don’t overthink it, just start! It’s the best advice I’ve ever got. By producing something you will figure out what you want to do. Just try, explore, experiment, you will figure it out if it’s for you or not. And something I always struggled with, you DON’T need expensive equipment to start photography. Use your phone or if you’re interested in analogue photography, buy a cheap second hand camera and cheap film. And lastly, enjoy!!
Daphne Oude Geerdink (1992, NL) is a visual artist based in Delft. Their work is based on a fascination of (self) representation and identity, exploring this through and with others. Human behaviour, gender, intimacy and body language is part of their interest. Photography is an intuitive tool to help them understand the world and their position on it. You can check out her work here www.daphneoudegeerdink.com IG: daphne.og You might also enjoy The Best Photography Magazine Submissions To Apply To How to Become a Professional Photographer: 4 Essential Steps