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‘Photography relates to memory; and relates very closely to time. When I take photographs I feel that I’m really living in time, in my time. Being a photographer forces me to take my camera, to document, and to take my time for what it is. Photographs can bear witness, they can preserve a record of time which is now changing so rapidly, whether political or psychological.
Portrait photography, whether in the studio or in the streets, is a delicate process. I find great joy and beauty in observing people, especially when I see emotions like pride, hope, melancholy or even frustration or despair. When one of these elements comes out in the picture, it’s a good sign. But that’s not an easy task. One shouldn’t be afraid to leave his comfort zone and get close to the subject. It’s not only actors who get stage fright, photographers live on their nerves, too. But in the end it’s quite rewarding, it forces you to connect with the people in front of your camera.
Street photography is quite a different game. Its words are made of shadows, movements, looks and connections hinted by that geometric perception we call framing. The street and its continuous transformation becomes the place where a keen observer can find beauty right before it manifests itself. Always concentrated toward what’s about to happen, the street photographer is invisible yet present, teetering on the edge between too early and too late. There’s lots of frustration in street photography. Sometimes you return home with nothing, but once in a while you hit the sweet spot. It motivates you again to go out there, to travel and be an alert observer.
The tools I use today for on-the-road photography are Leica M rangefinder cameras with 50, 35 and 21 mm lenses, the same tools the iconic photographers used during the last century. The camera and its legacy is an inspiration, not because it’s easy, but because it’s hard. A powerful tool to slow-down and rethink your photography.
Being a photographer is an attitude, is about going out there, living the moment, accepting failures. It's about channeling what's in your heart, putting it in the frame, and finding out where you stand and what you stand for. I think it comes down to whether you really have something to say. It can make your mind a bit restless though. Call it the wonderlust. You know quite well that for a person who needs to write, to take photographs, who needs to express himself, travel is a good thing, be it abroad or within oneself. There’s glory in travel, as well as there is disappointment. The aim is to find oneself.'
Peter Schooneveldt is a Dutch photographer focussing on authentic human experience. Born and raised in Haarlem, the Netherlands, he became an airline pilot/captain after college, flying around the world for KLM Royal Dutch Airlines for 32 years. During his flying career he discovered photography as a means of storytelling. After his retirement in 2011 he is now focussing on travel, photography and writing short stories.
For written stories check Peter’s Logboek: www.peterschooneveldt.com
All images copyright Peter Schooneveldt all rights reserved.