“I always use the same lens – 50 mm, because it doesn’t seem to transform reality. My approach to photography is minimalistic, simple and straightforward. Yet quite complex in its simplicity.”
Bert Danckaert (born in 1965 in Antwerp) is a Belgian photographer. He studied photography at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts (Antwerp).
Inge Henneman, curator of the Antwerp Photo Museum, about Bert Danckaert and his work:
“The bizarre cityscapes of Bert Danckaert deal with the same paradox of abstractive simplicity and a complexity of meaning and metaphor. Danckaerts still lives breathe a superficial flavour, a strangeness that is found in the familiar. Coincidental installations of sidewalks, walls and street furniture refer more to minimalist art than to conventions of street photography. In these absurd scenarios a recognizable, all too banal reality appears stage-set, props and trompe-l’oeil included, while the actors are absent.”
Interview with Bert Danckert
Bert, what was your first camera and photographic experience?
As a child with a pocket camera. I constructed a crime scene with myself lying on the kitchen table with a knife in my back and lots of ketchup.
Why did you become a photographer?
To be in the world and to work with the world.
What does photography mean to you?
To look and construct at the same time.
Which photographer has inspired you most and why?
Lynne Cohen. We met in the early 1990s. I assisted in a workshop she gave and we never stopped talking about art and photography.
Your favorite photography quote?
“I take my work to be social and political, but there is no concrete message. Perhaps that is why I feel much closer in spirit to Jacques Tati than to Michel Foucault.”
Lynne Cohen (2001)
How would you describe your photographic style and creative process?
A minimalistic, simple, straightforward approach. Yet quite complex in its simplicity.
What’s important in order to develop an own photographic style and how did you achieve it?
Do and think at the same time – and be very patient.
What do you consider to be the axis of your work – technically and conceptually?
I always use the same lens (50 mm, because it doesn’t seem to transform reality) and a camera that I can carry a whole day long. I possibly appropriate the visual language of working with a view camera, but I don’t even use a tripod.
What qualities does a good photographer need?
Brains and eyes.
What does a photo need to be a great photo in your eyes?
Every image defines its own rules, so this cannot be described.
Where do you draw inspiration from for your photographic projects?
Society, politics and art.
What kind of photography equipment and photographic supplies do you use?
Canon 5D Mark II, 50mm lens. computer, Photoshop, Epson printer and Hahnemühle paper.
What’s your favorite website on photography?
Piece of Cake – Network for Contemporary Images, www.pocproject.com.
What photography book would you recommend?
Ed Ruscha – Photographer.
Which advice would you give someone who wants to become a professional photographer?
Have fun, think, keep looking and don’t try to become a professional photographer.