A random summer day in Amsterdam …

This is why I love cities and Amsterdam in particular. It is a melting pot of people that is just too good to miss for a photographer like me. I know some would prefer the sight of a quiet mountain (I love that too!) but if you are here it probably means you also feel inspired by people and diversity.

You see, I have two way to shoot. Even though I never hide my camera, I often use the second I cross someone to quickly aim and shoot (I know, it sounds horrible but I'm a pacifist). Thats the only way to have candid pictures since people will act differently the minute they notice the camera or you talk to them. And I get reaaaaaaal close to them.

But I also like to ask people for their portrait. I'm not shy at all, I talk to everybody. But asking someone for a picture can still make me a bit nervous at times. Nobody likes rejection, but the worse they can say is 'no'. I heard that negative word twice out of 8 times yesterday. One man with tattoos all over his body and face (looks like I'm a tat mood those days), and a elderly chinees woman with whom I could not communicate aside from pointing at my camera, then her.

Anyhow, let me introduce you to the 6 characters that caught my attention that day !


The androgynous

The girl that looked like a boy that looked like a girl ...

androgynous amsterdam

I came across this beautiful person and stopped her as she was walking around with her friend. Told her right away I liked her androgynous look. Of course it always is tricky to comment on someone appearance but I try to be as sincere and genuine as possible and it seems people feel it and get it most of the time.

She was a bit shy at first but eventually accepted to pose. Oh, I just gave it away ... it was a she. I actually gave her my details and I hope she will contact me soon so I can put a name to her picture !

The Amsterdammer

They hold the soul of Amsterdam

Not 5 minutes later I see that big boy coming out of a Tattoo shop, we almost bumped into each other (I would have been the one flat on my butt). So of course I asked for a pic and he immediatly said "with or without the shirt". I never ask men to undress, but I was quick to make an exception. Funnily enough I could not get a pic of him withouta  smile. I was looking for the tough look you know, but the fellow man was just all laugther and happiness. Of course it takes immense love for a city to have its name permanetly inked on your throat, but also missing on this picture is the big Mokum.

tattoo amsterdam mokum


Mokum, without Aleph, is still commonly used as a nickname in the Netherlands for the city of Amsterdam. The nickname was first considered to be Bargoens, a form of Dutch slang, but in the 20th century it lost its negative sound and is now used by Amsterdamers as a nickname for their city in a sentimental context

The Dancer...

So little time...

And here she was, at the corner of a bridge. I guess it also is her look that caught my attention (it sometimes is an attitude or an action) and we had a bit of chit chat. Joana is a dancer and perfomer and really wished she was staying in Amsterdam for a longer time since I would have loved to set a shoot with her. You can find more about Joana on her Instagram by the way !


The Tattoo artist...

"an Italian with an attitude"

Spuistraat, having a coffee break ... chatting with a Frenchman (Salut!) with underskin implants. I guess I was not too subtle as I interrupted their conversation. Of course I asked him about the implants, talked about body motifications and how scared I'd be to have my tongue split or my skin scarified. The sunshine was in Kaya's smile though. She agreed to pose as long as she would not have to look at the camera. It's funny how (most of us) have predefined ideas about people. You can't be shy if you are covered with tattoos. This idea felt so silly in my mind that I had to speak it loud. I guess it was a way to relax the atmosphere a bit and give Kaya a few seconds to go back to herself. She apologized for her shyness, but it is exactly what was touching ! She was herself, best present I could get !

Oh, and is it obvious she's a Michael Jackson fan :-) ?

More about Kaya and her work on her Instagram !


The gayman straight (... to the point)

Some of you might need to search what his t-shirt means....

Living in Amsterdam opened my eyes to a lot of practices I just had no idea existed before. Having gay friends helped me to understand such things as why the biggest LGBT (straights welcome too) summer festival is called Milkshake. (Erwin Olaf happens to be part of the organisation and is one of my favourite photographers). So I learned a lot of keywords (some I wished I never heard of) and when this man faced me in the street I knew it meant something I had heard of but was not sure of what exactly.... It took me a bit of time to fully realise what was the meaning of the text on his t-shirt, and even longer to decide to turn around and catchup with him. But I dared asking despite the anxiety that took over as I finally came back to him. I mean, he really had a soft and gentle look, more like an accountant or a marketing expert than a brutal murderer (he's neither of those. I think). "RubberScorpio", as he calls himself, went to say it felt perfecty natural to broadcast his sexual hobbies on his t-shirt. 

I can't take his picture and write about him and judge at the same time. Does not work that way. So I just respect someone that dares and assumes. That's one thing about Amsterdam that is amazing, many people feel free to be themselves. That said, and that's a whole debate in itself, the whole country is far from being as open as we might think. I'd be curious to read about your comment and reactions on this please (with respect).

Mama's boy....

What's his story ?

That was interesting to see this young Spanish man visiting Amsterdam with his mum. In fact, no idea if he's a mamas boy or a big rebel. Could be both anyways.
He has my details, hopefully he will contact me and I can update this story with more details !

Technical data

in case you care ';-)

I used the X-pro2 (selling my X-T3, still loving my X100F and Ricoh GRIII) today with 2 Voigtländer lenses (35mm and 15mm). Both Leica mounts, manual focus and manual setings on my camera). I think I need to buy a ND filter for the 35mm because I wanted to shoot wide open to keep a shallow depth of field but had to shoot at 1/2000 and over which is ridiculous on a static subject :-)

Equipment used:

Fujifilm X-Pro2

Often wonder if it will replace my X100F. Weather Resistant and the ability to change lenses is a plus. But the X100F is lighter and I love the built in ND filter and the near silent leaf shutter

Voigtländer 35mm f/1.4 NOKTON Classic SC

Well. I was looking for a lens that would render images in a less digital feel . And this delivers exactly what I want. It actually is a Leica mount, manual focus lens.

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