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Maarten van Riel

A young woman carrying her child on this picture from Maarten van Riel
Maarten van Riel (The Netherlands) - Photographer - www.maartenvanriel.nl

“I always have my camera with me. In the end photos are there to help my memory, to capture what is becoming history.”

Maarten van Riel

Maarten van Riel (born in 1982) is a Dutch photographer currently based in Utrecht (The Netherlands). I studied “History and International Relations” at the University of Utrecht. For Maarten van Riel photography is a means of keeping a visual diary which eventually resulted in the project called “Wendepunkt” – one picture a day for the rest of his life.

Artist statement

Whether it is photography or life; you need some luck.

“Artist Profile” – Maarten van Riel

Maarten, why did you become a photographer? And what does photography mean to you?

I never wanted to become a photographer as a kid. I studied History, became a writer and now I’m involved in the search for unexploded ordnance from the Second World War. Photography always was one of the things I liked doing, but now it’s a part of my everyday life. Some people always carry their notebook with them, but because of my main photo project, I always have my camera with me. In the end photos are there to help my memory, to capture what is becoming history.

What’s your favorite inspirational quote about photography?

The Flemish writer Herman Brusselmans once told me during an interview that it’s not about his individual books, but about his oeuvre – his collected work. My individual photos might not always be ‘good’, but I hope all photos together make a ‘good’ piece of work.

What kind of camera and equipment do you use?

I use a Minolta from the early nineties and different sort of films – mostly Kodak and AGFA.

What’s your favorite website about photography?

Recommending a website is very personal – just like it’s difficult to recommend a book to someone you don’t know. But I enjoy “Crossing Paths” from the British photographer Niall McDiarmid (he photographs people on the streets across Britain), “The Last Stand” from the British photographer Marc Wilson (he photographs physical remnants of the Second World War) and the various websites of Dutch photographer Jan Postma.

What book about photography would you recommend?

Let me tell what I see when I look at the bookshelf in front of me: “Once” (Wim Wenders), “1999 Photodiary” (Frank Horvat), “Reisefotos” (Roman Singer), “This is War!” (Robert Capa), “Satellites” (Jonas Bendikson), “The Roma Journeys” (Joakim Eskildsen) and “Love on the left bank” (Ed van der Elsken).

Which advice would you give someone who wants to become a (professional) photographer?

Don’t be bothered what other people think, look around, keep looking around. Don’t be afraid that a project might fail and don’t overdo the Photoshop thing.

Which photographer has inspired you most?

My dad, I guess, although he wasn’t a professional photographer. He gave me my first photo camera – a rather cheap one, but still.

How would you describe your photographic language and creative process? How do you plan and execute a project? Both technically and conceptually?

“I try to take ‘good’ pictures, preferably with a bit of humor or mystery.”

That’s a difficult question because I’m not sure how to describe my photographic language or technic. Do I have one at all? Sure, I try to take ‘good’ pictures, preferably with a bit of humor or mystery. I need some freedom, just like when I write, and must be aware of conceptual oppression. When I’m assigned to take photos of an event or something, I tend to end up with a bunch of shitty photos.

More about Maarten van Riel


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