Berber Theunissen is a 27-year-old photographer from The Netherlands. Her photography is a personal documentation of narratives woven with intense moments, emotions and memories that make up her life and world around. Her work has been exhibited and widely published in various online and print blogs and magazines. Images in this feature belong to two of her recent series.
About me: I was born in 1989 in Otterlo, a small village in the middle of The Netherlands. When I was 18, I moved to Amsterdam. On June 2013 I graduated Cum Laude from the Photo Academy in Amsterdam. For my graduation series ‘Vagabond’ I explored how one lives without a permanent home and how it feels to wander between friends and family with very few possessions. On January 1st of 2015 I moved back to the nature, the surrounding that inspires me most. After eight years of living in Amsterdam I really started missing the woods, the quiet and the smells of nature.
My photography / statement: Through photography, I can create some kind of safeguard. I capture the situations I have little grasp of, from moments, emotions to memories. This approach is placed directly next to my research and curiosity into ‘the other’. I reflect upon my own struggles by looking how my friends and people who surround me cope up with the same situations and emotions. Thanks to my camera I create my own hold fast to view my life in an objective way.
I take a lot of self-portraits. I have two reasons for this - one of them is that I have the feeling I can only justify taking pictures of other people once I understand what it feels like being on the other end of the lens… that the model and me are equal in that way. The second reason, which is also the main reason, is that I see self-portraiture a way of (objectively) looking at myself. It’s kind of daunting and confrontational to see some of the photos afterwards. Sometimes I spot something in my eyes, or a certain expression which I wasn’t aware of at that time. Most of the times these pictures end up in an archive, not to be touched until months later when the quiet has returned to my life.
I shoot everything with a Pentax 6×7. It’s an analog medium format camera and I use only daylight or available light. With this camera I can shoot only 10 photos in a film so I’m really busy with what am I going to capture instead of just clicking around.
My projects: I’m showing you a mix of two projects:
Dozen of Bulls: During the fall of 2013 I and my granddad went to Iceland. I was 24, he was 75, separated and marked by 51 years of life-experiences. While I was figuring out how to live my life and what choices to make, granddad was looking back on the choices he made in life and the ‘growth’ between then and now. We had never been this close…
Frisson; a Shiver of Pleasure: ‘Frisson; a Shiver of Pleasure’ is an ongoing quest for happiness. I focus my camera on all the things affecting me personally, all the things that I love, but also the things that make me vulnerable. I document the moments, feelings and memories in which these intense emotional situations were present or revolving around me.
My influences and favorite stuff: My dog and my home! The past few months we were really busy rebuilding our home. When we moved to the Dutch countryside we started creating our kind of dream palace, still a work in progress though. My boyfriend builds custom motorbikes ‘Pancake Customs’ and his workshop is next to our home. Lately we created this guesthouse above his workshop, called ‘Bed & Beers’. It really became a lovely guesthouse. I really love to welcome the guest and to improve the whole vibe a bit more every time. My studio is in our home as well, so we have everything we want under one roof.