Kristin Van den Eede is a very talented photographer from Belgium. Her photography exhibits everyday simple, joyous, bizarre, and thoughtful captures from street and outdoor world. Street photography is all about getting sharp to a decisive moment and building a strong connect with the subject. A great human drama is unfolding itself at every nook and corner of the hundreds of thousands of streets out there and a keen observing eye can make it frozen and immortal with a click. Kristin is such a photographer and she does not make her presence feel in her photos, most of which are shot candidly. Here’s our detailed interview with the artist herself:
I live in Ghent, Belgium, together with my boyfriend (also a street photographer, check out his profile on Flickr) and my dog Igor. I am a teaching assistant at Ghent University and teach courses in English for Specific Purposes and Swedish. I was born not too far from Ghent, in Dendermonde, a small town where my family still lives.
Aside from photography, I have several interests and hobbies, such as music, books and movies. I enjoy fine dining and cooking, and I can appreciate a good single malt whisky. For a while, I made my own jewellery together with a friend, and I also took some drawing classes and worked on a design for a graphic novel together with my boyfriend. My love for music is translated into the titles of my shots; they always refer to a song that I love or that I feel is appropriate.
I haven’t been taking pictures for very long. Last year around this time, my boyfriend got a camera and I often found myself just waiting around while he was taking shots. This evolved into me telling him what to shoot, then borrowing his camera and then finally getting my own. All of a sudden, we both became obsessed and spent a lot of spare time on this new obsession.
We both became quite active on Flickr and got some very interesting feedback from great photographers. Sakib Pratyay has truly been a mentor to us both: giving us advice, allowing us room to grow and constantly motivating us to get better.
As my job is pretty demanding and I have a lot of other interests, my life can get quite hectic at times. Still, I manage to regularly go on photography trips, sometimes every weekend, sometimes less, and then I take on average around 600 shots a day. I often feel frustrated for not having more time to become a better photographer. On the other hand, I also think that any kind of love needs room to breathe and grow and it’s the same with photography. I’m in no hurry and I want to take my time to explore this art form to the fullest.
Right now, photography means the world to me. I don’t do it to make a name for myself (although that would be nice, of course!), but I simply do it because I cannot not do it. When I haven’t taken any shots for a while, I feel this urge that I can hardly control. I just feel a strong desire to take a lot of pictures, look at a lot of other photographers’ work and simply get better at what I do.
I use a Nikon D3200. It’s my first good camera and I plan on sticking with it for a while longer, until I can afford to move upscale. Usually, I go for a 35mm lens, because it makes me less lazy and forces me to get up close and personal instead of just zooming in. I am not a huge fan of long exposure shots, although some street photographers can really make it work, so that might change in the future. I am still experimenting with different settings, styles and lenses and I advise any new photographer to do the same.
Nothing yet. This time next year, it would be nice if I had any achievements to speak of. But I’d be happy just enjoying the experience as much as I do now.
Thank you! That is a beautiful compliment. To tell the truth, I don’t really start out with any fixed ideas; I simply go with the flow and see where the moment and the location takes me. On photography trips, I am usually accompanied by my boyfriend and he inspires and motivates me too: looking for nice spots, “hunting” or waiting for decisive moments, … It is invaluable to be able to just stop talking to someone all of a sudden or run away to get that one great shot. You can’t just do that with anyone. Not everyone would accept or understand it.
Most of the time, I try to become invisible and make sure that people don’t notice me. If they do, I will either pretend that I am shooting something else or just smile at them. That usually does the trick.
What is the advantage of being in Belgium?
The good thing about Belgium is that there are many different cities nearby, some bigger than others, but all with their own distinct profile. I often go on photography trips to Brussels, Bruges, Antwerp or Liège, but Paris, Amsterdam and London are only a couple of hours away. I am a huge fan of London and could go there every week, if my wallet allowed it.
Of course, there are also plenty of photo opportunities in my hometown Ghent too. At the weekend, the city can get pretty crowded with shoppers and tourists. I often take pictures at the main shopping street (Veldstraat), but also the typical tourist spots (e.g. Graslei, Vrijdagmarkt, or Gravensteen). I tend to go for crowed places, where people drop their masks and where you see their true selves. Needless to say, you often see that on a Saturday afternoon in the middle of the shopping street!
I have a lot of ambitions, but I am too superstitious to ever say them out loud. There are so many photographers who inspire me: Trent Parke, Josef Koudelka, Richard Avedon, Christophe Agou, … Among contemporary street photographers that I know from social media, I immediately think of names like Barry Talis, Tatsuo Suzuki, Fabrizio Alessi, the Bragdon brothers, Luca Napoli, Maciej Dakowicz, Paul Cruickshank, Andreas Paradise, Peter Kool, Charalampos Kydonakis, and so many others.
I don’t know if I have any fans, but anyone who is just getting started as a photographer: surround yourself with good photography books, good photographers and good friends. They will inspire you, support you in your experiments and push you to raise the bar.
All photos © Kristin Van den Eede : Flickr