Prins de Vos (born 1991) is a photographer from The Netherlands currently living in Den Haag.
He studied photography at the “Academy for Popculture”, Leeuwarden.
In his recent project Enclose he turned his relationship with his boyfriend into an intimate photographic diary.
“I use photography as a means to put everything in its proper perspective.
It makes me able to deal with the frustrations that go hand in hand with obsession, which I often have with someone.”
Interview with Prins de Vos
Prins, why did you become a photographer? And what does photography mean to you?
Photography means everything to me. At this very moment, I am looking at a portrait of a guy, that I found on a flea market, together with the portrait of his brother.
The pictures must have been taken at the beginning of the 20th century. Their names have been written on the back sides, in decorative characters. Wim and Rein.
Wim is looking straight into the camera, his eyebrows slightly frown.
No, I do not belief that he looked into the camera. He is looking at me, it looks like he is carefully observing me, sitting on the floor, legs crossed, in front of my laptop.
“Photography is frustrating and that is why it is fascinating.”
Although photographs are just scraps of time, portraits feel timeless, because people’s glances do not change. This is a paradox and it is what makes photography that interesting. It is beyond our human capacity.
I am looking at Wim, I can almost separate the thin blond hairs on his head one by one. It feels like he is a relative and he is still living. Here in my home. Photography is frustrating and that is why it is fascinating.
A picture is only a small quantity of information, as if you are reading just a fragment of a book and have to imagine how it started and how it will end yourself. A photograph can attract like an unfulfilled love.
You cannot get involved, you will never understand fully what is going on, just like the object of your unfulfilled love will never show its essence. Because of this distance, the desire to know more can grow to an obsession. And that is the point where the magic appears, when you get obsessed by a photograph.
Do I need to explain more, why I was so eager to do some photography?
How would you describe your photographic language and creative process? How do you plan and execute a project? Both technically and conceptually?
I am working very, very intuitively. In fact everything starts with obsessions.
Photographs can inspire me, stimulate me to create something new, but I am nothing without people that I care for, one way or the other. That is where it all starts. You could compare it to a crush of love, but in a different way.
I do not want to be with somebody, but capture a personality. But only then, when a photographic crush arises, I can make a plan and make up a project.
But even then, in most cases, fatuity takes over and it just comes to life, without me being able to control the process.
Which photographer has inspired you most?
Both Bertien van Manen and Larry Clark were the ones who inspired me most.
Bertien van Manen, because I would love to be able to make photographs like she does. In my opinion her work is perfect. I cannot explain how I feel looking at her photographs.
Larry Clark inspires me by his style of work and the way he is association with his models. They all seem to trust him completely. They are adoring him.
Up to me, it proofs he is doing his job virtuously. And of course the fact that he is making films is appealing to me. That is something I would like to do as well.
What’s your favorite inspirational quote about photography?
“A lot of people seem to think that art or photography is about the way things look, or the surface of things. That’s not what it’s about for me. It’s really about relationships and feelings.
It’s really hard for me to do commercial work because people kind of want me to do a Nan Goldin. They don’t understand that it’s not about a style or a look or a setup. It’s about emotional obsession and empathy.” Nan Goldin
Especially the last sentence. It is being forgotten so often that photography is just a medium and not a goal in itself. It is a perfect tool to tell a story.
What kind of camera and equipment do you use?
I use full automatic analogue camera’s. These are handy and perfect for me. I used to work a lot with a digital reflex camera, but that way of working does not fit into my definition of photography.
The camera only needs to be an extension of the eye. If I see something that I want to capture, I just get the camera out of the pocket and push the button. Done. I do not want to get pressurized by all technical aspects that could come along.
Photographing is just like writing; you tell a story. You will never hear a writer tell about the functionality of his typewriter or how he uses it. A simple pencil will do to tell the story.
What’s your favorite website about photography?
Definitely GUP Magazine.
What book about photography would you recommend?
May I choose a photo book as well? Than I will choose Berien van Manen’s “Let’s Sit Down Before We Go”. I think the book has been composed perfectly. The size of the book, the colours, the selection, everything is completely balanced.
Which advice would you give someone who wants to get started with photography?
Do not get involved too much into creating a technical perfect image.
It is like dancing. You could control all technics perfectly well, but without emotion your dance would be artificial.
And you dance because you want to express feelings. And that is also the purpose of photography I think.