Jordi Huisman is a documentary photographer from Amsterdam, the Netherlands. He’s focusing prominently on urban architecture / landscape and cityscapes to mark the change in our environment and our relationship with objects and nature. Jordi’s doing some really good offbeat photography in which he finds something a bit unusual in objects that are always before us but we tend not to notice them in our busy lives; this makes his compositions a bit awkward and ironical. As it is with art, photography has become way too subjective and demands investigation and perception at viewers’ level. Most of the images of Jordi deal with shapes we give to our surroundings. Here’s our interview with Jordi Huisman:
I was born in Almere, a city just outside of Amsterdam. I moved to Amsterdam when I was 23, and have been living and working there since. I’m a professional photographer. I started taking pictures when I was 20. The following two years I bought better equipment and started to get assignments. I’ve been doing it full time for eight years now. I studied engineering in Amsterdam before going to the art academy in The Hague to study photography.
I also like to go for a swim, take out my inline skates or go for a bike ride on my race bike. I enjoy going to the movies very much, and reading, although it’s hard to find the time and concentration.
What is the place and role of photography in your life?
Photography for me is the best possible way to make a living that I can think of. I feel very fortunate to do so, and I’m aware of that every day. Next to that it is the best way I can show other people what I think is interesting in this world.
My personal work is mostly urban and landscape, the combination of those two interests me very much. My commercial and editorial work is more portraits, architecture and lifestyle. I use 4×5″ and 6×7 cameras for my personal work, and a canon 5d mk3 with a lot of lenses for commercial work. I recently bought a digital medium format, and am curious to see where that will find its place (personal work, commercial work or both). I use only manual settings on all cameras.
I’ve been shooting on film for about 10 years now. The quality of a 4×5″ color negative keeps surprising me. The tonal range is phenomenal. I do have to say I’m growing a bit tired of the whole bringing film to the lab, getting it back, scanning and correcting colors process. I generally don’t do a lot of editing, I just want to get the colors right. When shooting digital I use a bit more editing, but mostly nothing more than dodging and burning with adjustment layers. Digital needs more attention to get the best result. I use Adobe Photoshop CC and Photo Mechanic.
When I just left the art academy in my second year, I made a series of portraits of football dads. Football dads are fathers who passionately encourage their kid (most of the time sons) at the football field on Saturdays. The series got published in the magazine of one of the biggest newspapers ‘De Volkskrant’ in the Netherlands. I was very proud of that back then. I’m writing this on a plane to New York City, where I have a commercial job tomorrow. It’s probably the most awesome job I ever got. For my personal work publishing a book of my Rear Window series last year was very pleasing achievement. Selling prints of that series and seeing them at the wall of people’s homes fills me with proud.
I have a lot of clients. Some of them are incidental and some of them are more regular. It happened sometimes that a client didn’t call me anymore. But I’ve learned that there will always be new clients, so I’m not so worried anymore when that happens.
Your photography may seem a bit unusual to those who do not know about its aesthetic value. How would you explain it to a common man?
I like to think of my personal work as being somewhat humorous. Or at least I try to look for small jokes or strange things that evoke some sort of pleasure for the viewer. I find it’s very hard to explain to people that have different aesthetic values why my pictures are worth looking at. Taste is a very subjective thing, and I believe there’s no such thing as convincing someone to like something if it isn’t their opinion.
When it comes to portraits I always try to be as open and honest as possible. I’m not the type of photographer to have a lot of bad jokes in order to make people laugh. Most of the time I am genuinely interested in my subjects, which helps to set a relaxed atmosphere. I hope and think that that shows in my portraits. For personal work I look for things and scenes that interest me for some reason, and this is a very intuitive process. My personal work is one big search of what it is that makes me click.
Through Flickr, Tumblr and Facebook I see a lot of work from other photographers. I think there are a couple of different trends and styles in contemporary photography, as there always have been and will be. My personal work also fits in one of those categories. Within my scene, my work isn’t that distinctive. I don’t really mind that though, I make personal work because I like to do it. I don’t feel the urge to be unique just to be unique. If some of my work stands out as distinct, it’s a nice side effect of my search in photography.
What I would love to do is make a book of a large documentary series. For instance from my Outline series, I’ve been playing with that idea for some time now. I draw inspiration from other photographers, a lot from the internet. Stand Quarterly magazine and the in a clearing Tumblr are good suppliers. But I also like to go to exhibitions. Just this weekend I saw enormous Jeff Wall prints in the Stedelijk museum in Amsterdam. I will probably visit the Unseen photo fair in Amsterdam in September, and maybe also Paris Photo later this year.
Alec Soth, Nadav Kander and Stephen Shore have been a great inspiration for me. More recently I’ve been very impressed by the work of Hin Chua and my friend Bryan Schutmaat. Also the work of fellow Dutchman Maarten Boswijk has inspired me.
Please say something inspirational to our readers:
It might be a bit of cliché, but I’d say always stay true to who you are and what interest you in photography and in life. It will lead to good things.