“I would describe my work as ‘expressive’. It’s much more about feelings then about technique or skills.”
Claire Felicie (born in 1966) is a Dutch visual artist currently based in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. She’s a self-taught photographer. There’s also an interview with Claire Felicie on this site where she talks about her latest portrait series of young marine soldiers who fought in Afghanistan which by now is also available as a book called “Here Are The Young Men”. For Claire Felicie photography has a very personal meaning. She says: “It has a certain ‘mystic’ and ‘magic’.”
“To bring beauty in the world and light into darkness, because life is precious – and short.”
“Artist Profile” – Claire Felicie
Claire, why did you become a photographer? And what does photography mean to you?
The first pictures I took was at age 18 with my brother’s camera. The second I saw them after getting them developed I was hooked. I had to get my own camera and pursue my new passion. Maybe childhood memories played an important role in this. My father was a passionate (although amateur) photographer himself and made 24 home-made photo books, full of black and white pictures, covering eight years of daily family life with my mother in the leading role. It was only by looking through these albums that I got an idea of how my mother was like. It was as if jumping back in time and witness her life through these photographs. My father stopped with making these albums after her death. So, photography for me is so much more than ‘just pictures’. Without photography I wouldn’t have ‘known’ my mother. Through these experiences from my early childhood, photography has a certain ‘mystic’ and ‘magic’ for me, which I hope to attain in my own work as well.
What’s your favorite inspirational quote about photography?
“It has been seen. It has not been passed without notice.”
Gerard van het Reve
My favourite quote is not from a photographer, but from a Dutch novelist, Gerard van het Reve. The last words in his book ‘De Avonden’ (The Evenings) are: “It has been seen. It has not been passed without notice” (translation by me). It’s a beautiful conclusion of the story which by times is very depressing (but also sometimes very funny). The protagonist finds reconciliation in the end by saying these exact words. In my work they are of great importance to me.
What kind of camera and equipment do you use?
I have three cameras I use: the Mamiya 67 RB, Nikon D800 and my iPhone.
What’s your favorite website about photography?
“Lens Culture” and “New York Times Lens”.
What book about photography would you recommend?
I would recommend “A New History Of Photography” by Michel Frizot, because it’s very inspiring to see those old photographs from the beginning of photography, and then see how photography developed through time. “Get to know your predecessors”, I would say!
Which advice would you give someone who wants to become a (professional) photojournalist?
“All goes very slowly, and then your hard work will pay out in the end.”
I would not consider myself a ‘photojournalist’. I’d rather consider myself an artist. That said, I can give an advice, though; if you feel this ‘drive’ in yourself, and you want nothing in the world more than making great pictures, or tell a story with your pictures, than: never give up. Find people in the field who encourage you and support you, have a lot of patience with yourself; in general, all goes very slowly, and then your hard work will pay out in the end.
Which photographer has inspired you most?
Definitely Dutch photographer Ed van der Elsken, with his book “Love On The Left Bank”. His way of looking at his subjects: these young people in love in Paris, is moving, urgent, and very natural, spontaneous, nothing is staged. He has this ‘penetrating’ and affectionate look, I find most inspiring.
How would you describe your photographic language and creative process? How do you plan and execute a project? Both technically and conceptually?
I would describe my work as ‘expressive’. It’s much more about feelings then about technique or skills. My creative process kicks off in the middle of the night: it’s then that I get the best ideas. These ideas do not come from nowhere. They are the result of much reading (both papers and novels) and watching; films and exhibitions. Next step is to browse the internet to see what I can find about the subject and the way it has been executed so far. And then, when I think that I can add my personal view on the subject to the world, I will start. After a considerable time I show my work to someone, and then thinking starts about exhibitions and publications.