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Posted 2 May 2007 - The Hague (NL):

One of the things I like most about Paris is le métro. Especially when it turns from subway into uhm.. overway. When it appears above the ground. It's a lot more practical from a photographic point of view as well. So before proceeding to the very reason I went to Paris this time - to take photos of Dutch tourists - here's two photos of subway-above-the-ground:

- Line 5 crossing the river Seine on the way to Gare d'Austerlitz. The little spot on the river bank is an old man enjoying the sunny weather. The road along the river is packed with cars heading for the banlieue (outskirts) and/or Province (everything French that is not Paris);

- Line 2 on the way to the Etoile. The two ladies in the front probably - judging on the cap sticker, the poster one is holding and the facial expressions they've put on - just attended a speech by the socialist presidential candidatum, Ségolène Royal.

(© Paris - FR, 1 May 2007)
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Opzij, opzij, opzij

Posted 3 May 2007 - The Hague (NL):

After some relaxing days in France, I'm back home and in a real hurry to organise 25 things at a time: moving all my stuff one floor down, scheduling two photo shoots tomorrow, organising my photos from France and sending them to the right people...

Research shows that more people are facing the same issue, albeit on a more general and global level. It seems like we have all started walking 10% faster over the last decade. In spite of all the tools we designed to make our lives easier.

In line with this sad development, I would like to ask the people to whom I promised to send photos to have a little patience with me. And the same goes for anybody who is eagerly looking forward to see all the Dutch faces in Paris - I will post some of those tomorrow.

(© Paris - FR, 1 May 2007)
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Ideas about ideas

Posted 4 May 2007 - The Hague (NL):

The idea to photograph Dutch tourists in Paris was perceived as quite weird - not in the last place by the to-be-photographed tourists themselves. People oftentimes ask me where all these strange ideas/projects (the one-photo-per-hour-project, the McDonald's project, the smile-nosmile ID photo project and many more alike) come from and what goal they serve. That's two questions and I'm trying hard to address them properly during the next two paragraphs:

1: Where the ideas come from:
Good question, tough one though. For each 100gr of idea, let's say there's 50gr of frustration about something that most of the time has to deal with authority or boredom in one way or another. Add 25gr of pleasure to collect and/or record things. Then there's 25gr of blackbox powder which turns on a small light bulb above my head. And then it's GO. I still think that my best photos are not idea-based though, but this is how I get to the second question:

2: In which way they are useful:
Consciousnous is a scarce good so it needs to be tickled. Structuring preception allows for 'more' perception. Concentrating on one thing gives me the perseverence to continue what I'm doing, because I can tell that photography can be one of the most boring things ever on those days you feel like there's simply 'nothing to see'. Most ideas are therefore indirectly useful: they create exposition of the senses to new ideas that are not conceptual but incidental.

And that's the most I can tell you about it now. Enjoy the Dutch faces - I'll post some more of those tomorrow. And speaking about McDonalds, I added another 20 logos. If you have any, or see a McDonalds sign, please record it and send it to me. One day I just might use it for something useful ;)

(© Paris - FR, 30 April 2007)
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Partly professional non-art student

Posted 5 May 2007 - The Hague (NL):

I spent a wonderful time yesterday training and cycling around Holland for two photo shoots. Just as in the old days when I was trainspotting instead of attending uni lectures. Or sending e-mails during Spanish courses, e-mail back then was brand new and we were not allowed to access hotmail on the premises :) Nostalgia...

As promised, here's part two of the Dutch people in Paris theme. In order to make it a little more exciting, I now added one photo in which there are NO Dutch people. Up to you to check which one that is.

Apart from the question about how I get to ideas, some people in Paris and many like them are asking two other questions. Whether I am a student in the art academy. No, I'm not, and I never was. I once met up with one of the teachers who said that I would have a fair chance of being admitted if I applied, but I then abandoned the idea. Maybe I will do it in the future, one day.

Second question: whether I am a professional photographer and I never know the right answer to that question. Yes and no. Yes because I have an official registration with the Chamber of Commerce and need to fill out all sorts of annoying tax forms each quarter. Yes, because I make money out of it. No, because I'm not doing it 40h a week and my main source of income right now is not photography. To put it short: I don't know the right answer to that question. So for everyone who reads this, please don't ask again: I've already changed to digital in order to be able to answer yes to the ever-recurring question of whether I was using a digital camera or not...

(© Paris - FR, 30 April 2007)
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La pregunta del día

Posted 6 May 2007 - The Hague (NL):

Who is it going to be....

(© Paris - FR, 1 May 2007)
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Hollyhock - final edition

Posted 7 May 2007 - The Hague (NL):

Sarkozy won the French elections, Ajax won the Dutch Cup Final. I just enjoyed the weekend. It's raining today for the first time in about a month, must say I'm quite happy about it. As long as FC Hollyhock is still GO for tonight. These are the last two photos for this season. Recognise anybody? ;)

(© The Hague - NL, March 2007)
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Work and Irish pubs

Posted 8 May 2007 - The Hague (NL):

While some of my friends wonder if I ever work, some others suspect that I never stop working. It probably all depends on whether people accept photography and travelling as work. I do, it's all work to me. But I'm happy that it's fun most of the time, just like keeping this daily photo log running.

My news item for today is about Irish Pubs. They are flourishing abroad, but gradually disappearing from their birth ground: Irish countryside villages. Unfortunately, I already 'spent' all my pub photos on earlier postings so below photos are only distantly related to Irish pubs...

If an Irish habit dies, what happens to it? Bury it on an Irish cemetery I'd say. After all, it's a catholic country. Hence the first photo. The second photo shows somebody who could very well be a potential pub visitor, possibly. All other pub photos can be found under the Ireland link in the menu on the righthand side.

(© Boyne - IE, September 2006)
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Photo in town hall

Posted 9 May 2007 - The Hague (NL):

I am not a big fan of photo competitions and I am not a big fan of the authorities either. Photo competitions mainly because I always forget to join and because what you can win is usually a photo camera and miracle-oh-wonder I already have one of those. Authorities because they will tell you what to do and what not to do, for example: tell you that they require you to leave your apartment within a month while a mere week later having to admit that everything is OK - without apologising for the inconvenience.

So it's quite exceptional that I joined a photo competition organised by the municipality of The Hague. Fun, because my photo was elected to be part of an exhibition in the town hall. Slight point of criticism: they didn't invite photographers to the opening of the exhibition and they missssspelt my name.

Anyway, the exhibition looks nice, here's an partial overview. And this is the photo we're talking about.

(© The Hague - NL, 8 May 2007)
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Language lumps

Posted 10 May 2007 - The Hague (NL):

Languages and especially multilingualism are fascinating material. In my opinion, being able to speak more than one language requires the ability to switch between parallel logics. Leaving room for plenty of misunderstandings and by consequence: humour :)

Whenever somebody Dutch is good at speaking languages, he/she is said to have a language lump. This suggest an innate talent for languages, but I think it's mainly got to do with exposure, whether that's unintentional or by choice.

I very much like to hear people speaking Polish, Irish, Scottish or Swedish. For anything that's got to do with enjoying though, I'd say French remains favourite.

(© Paris - FR, April 2007)
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Living and working in Paris

Posted 11 May 2007 - The Hague (NL):

There's no urgent news for today, so I thought I'd write a little story about Paris. I thought of it as a magnificent city before moving there for the second half of 2000. It is definitely a nice city to visit and ever since then, taking the Thalys is leaving home to arrive home. Living there was not the best thing in the world though.

As a part of my studies, I was doing an internship as a head hunter (chasseur de têtes) the time. Having to locate professionals with specific skills in one company to offer him/her a job in another company within the same industry. That's how things work in France. Everybody obeys the big boss and in case of trouble, they'll typically complain among colleagues rather than sticking out their necks. Enough complaining, I had nice colleagues and I still see some of them every now and then (coucou if you're reading this :) I did have some arguments with my superiours: the PDG, French equivalent of CEO, and especially his wife. Le patron was not easily satisfied with people’s work. He called people ‘bricoleur’ (a funny alternative to no-good-for-nothing) or worse, everything was 'perte de temps absolu' (a bloody waste of time) or he would respond to what you said with a suspicious-angry 'mais attendez' (what the *&^(*@% are you telling me). Pretty much everybody was scared of not only him but even his presence. Surprisingly, I always managed to settle things amicably with the two of them. They did get annoyed with me but at least they didn’t walk over me.

As I am writing this, and looking for their names, I notice that they have not been sitting still since the moment I left the company. They carried on for a bit, then sold the company. And after that: Paris – Dakar, rowing the Atlantic solo, sailing tours around the globe… I remember how he was telling about a time two of his toes 'happened to freeze off' or how his friend got killed while they were in South America. Both without the slightest change of facial expression. He was not easily impressed and I guess that helps if you have this kind of ambitions.

Uhm but my photo is just a metro train, and I was going to tell how I might still like to live in France but only when I’m old. And by then, I would like to live in one of those round-cornered houses that are so typical for Paris.

(© Paris - FR, 30 April 2007)
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Sunday = tennis..

Posted 13 May 2007 - The Hague (NL):

..and it has been like that for the last 14 years. It's not even so much for the sport, it's just for keeping track of time. In that perspective, tennis is Sunday would even describe the situation better. This photo shows a part of the entire group, as not everybody shows up every single Sunday. About every week, we claim that 'at the End of Days, thou shalt see strange faces', to then conclude that it the end of time must be near. It's only one out of a rigid selection of silly jokes. But it's Sunday morning, so it'd better not be too complicated.

Presenting from left to right: Ton: a former sailorman who survived more heart attacks than most people have got fingers and toes, Gert, my Alternative Cliniclown colleague. Instead of visiting children in hospital to cheer them up, we will punch people into hospital if they don't laugh at our jokes. Hey, then it's me, nickname Hugo. I cycle to tennis on my racing bike because we've moved to a place that's 15km away. Then Arie, of whom we never know if it's the keys in his pockets that rattle, or whether it's his bones. Raymond, I don't know what he does but he spends time in Dubai at regular intervals, Koos, also called Sjaak, father-in-law to my uncle and granddad to my cousin, then Ad, my uncle who's a plumber.

On most Sundays, we also have younger attendees than just these old guys. Yvonne, Leike, Martin and Robin also regulary join. We used to also have a Fred, two Frans-es, a Theo, a William.. To put it short, a nice representation of the Dutch population and a very nice group of humouristically backward people.

(© Leidschendam - NL, May 2007)
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Work in Progress - Us Europeans

Posted 15 May 2006 - The Hague (NL):

A new PhotoLogiX project is on the way. Over the last couple of weeks, I've been trying to put together the parts composing it. It will be called 'Us Europeans' and, contrary to my - still going strong - McDonalds collection, it will be quite a massive challenge this time.

Keep track of Dailyphoto over the weeks to come. I will keep you updatumd of the progress as the outlines of the project become more visible.

(© Wroclaw - PL, May 2003)
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Can't cook, does cook

Posted 16 May 2007, The Hague (NL):

I have been taking quite some photos again, of my sister's pregnant belly, and for once I've also been photograph. I won't show you the results of either photoshoot here and now.

I'm referring back to another frequent PhotoLog subject instead: French presidency. It changed from Chirac to Sarkozy today. That means no more inimitable facial expressions, elegantly structured speeches or blunders on the international diplomatic scene.

At least he got his own people to agree on one issue, the English:

'You can’t trust people who cook as badly as that'.

(© Clacton on Sea - UK, June 2006)
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Russia today

Posted 17 May 2007 - The Hague (NL):

On 2 January 2006, I wrote about how I expected Russia to claim back a leading role in world politics during 2006. With some minor delays, they are working hard to make that forecast come true. They are having arguments with the USA and Europe alike.

Furthermore, it seems like your not in an enviable position if you owe something to Russia. Estonia claims to be under cyber-attack from Russia after removing an old Soviet memorial from the centre of its capital Tallinn. Internet, originally designed as a method that would enable people to keep communicating during war, has instead become the battleground itself..

(© Sofia - BG, April 2005)
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Ireland shows the way

Posted 18 May 2007 - The Hague (NL):

One problem the EU is facing, in my view, is its incapability to sell its successes to the European people. Why would we (Dutch and French) vote in favour of a European constitution if we know nothing about it, get told nothing about it except to vote 'for' and do not hear about things that actually work out well thanks to the EU.

One example of a country where the EU-progress is clearly visible is Ireland. It has grown from Western Europe's poorest country to one of the most successful ones economically. It would be nice if that information reached us as well, even if it were only to balance out the stupidity of moving hundreds of people back and forth from Brussels to Strasbourg and back every month.

(© Navan - IE, September 2006)
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Political games in Romania

Posted 19 May 2007 - The Hague (NL):

Romania is likely to be able to stay in the European Union. The Romanian parliament tried to send home the reformist president, but the result of today's referendum cancelled the impeachment procedure. Still, the political landscape in Romania is a big mess and it will continue to be like that for a while.

(© Constanta - RO, September 2003)
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Fin de semana

Posted 20 May 2007 - The Hague (NL):

It's been a very nice, long and eventful weekend, with a wedding, two anniversaries, some cycling and tennis - of course. I also reserved some time to work on the website of my study project 'Us Europeans'. This is what it will roughly look like:

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Power stations and Rail bridges

Posted 21 May 2007 - The Hague (NL):

When I read about the demolition of the cooling towers of Chapelcross power plant in Scotland, it instantly reminded me of two things:

1) To take a photo of the most magnificent bridge I have ever seen: the Forth Rail Bridge. Will do that when I am in Scotland next month;

2) Of the time when the skyline of The Hague used to be dominated by 4 chimneys, also belonging to a power plant. From each and every single point in the city, I would look out for those chimneys and be very happy (and cheer) whenever I got them in sight. Two of the chimneys, the tallest ones, were demolished in 2000. This is what's left:

(© The Hague - NL, April 2007)
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Tall buildings differently

Posted 23 May 2007 - The Hague (NL):

Below photo shows the new neighbourhood in Den Bosch that was being constructed at the time I was living there (2003). The Paleiskwartier also includes tall buildings but it still manages to create an atmosphere of space. Which makes it a much nicer place than the shady maze of downtown Miami that I was writing about yesterday.

(© 's-Hertogenbosch - NL, May 2003)
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Some things never change...

Posted 24 May 2007 - The Hague (NL):

When I was in secondary school, I spent a lot of valuable time sweeping the school yard. Not for fun, but because I got sanctioned for not behaving well. I never understood how some of my classmates would get away with things as bad as putting the school on fire, while I always got 'arrested' for the most harmless and oftentimes funny activities: tearing my French test to chips and make a trace from one class room to the other, not being able to stop laughing, playing games during lectures, organising the Euro or World Cup Toto, using the wrong exit as a shotcut to the shopping centre. Or handing in silly stuff like still lifes of the drawing teacher's lunch package, a thesis copied from a classmate - in this own handwriting and with just my name next to it, a reading report of a book saying that the book 'sucked bigtime'.. All very innocent..

Nothing much changed since then. In the big world, these petty offenses cost money. And so I got fined for speeding (87 km/h where 80 km/h was allowed, on the same day I got my driver's licence) and cycling at night without a light (€ 20).

Today, I thought I'd enjoy the nice weather and get some exercise, well I did but it ended up costing me Seventy-Five euros! I was fully enjoying my civil right (and duty) of crossing the red light on my racing bike, then got caught for it by two adolescent police officers. In my next career, I'm also going to fine cyclists because it's good money and you don't need to have any skills for it. Just sit at a traffic light and scare the hell out of people who prefer to pay attention to the traffic rather than stand still, staring at something as useless as a traffic light and wait for it to turn green. Don't these people know that they will die one day and will regret most of the time they spent waiting for that green light. By the way and as a serious footnote: crossing red lights with a car is a completely different thing. That I do not find acceptable. It puts other people in danger rather than yourself (as opposed to the bike case).

Anyway, this is a very long introduction to what the small message I was originally planning to post: the photos I took last month for Ruimte voor Helden are now published in their newsletter Heldenzine.

(© Deventer - NL, May 2007)
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Almost weekend

Posted 25 May 2007 - The Hague (NL):

It's almost weekend again! I intend to go to the Photo Festival in Naarden-Vesting. On the way to this festival at an earlier edition (2005), I tried to trace the exact location of the Bijlmermeer crash site (1992), which not much later led to the Na Dato photo project.

(© Naarden-Bussum - NL, May 2005)
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Photo Festival Naarden

Posted 26 May 2007 - The Hague (NL):

As planned, I visited the Photo Festival in Naarden today. Most photos were a bit too-far-of-my-bed-show, but let me list the ones that did particularly touch me, together with the reason why and links to the photographers' websites if possible:

- Eddy Wessels: for the seemingly fearless way he approaches his subjects;
- Hans Aarsman, participating in the open air exhibition Maaiveld: for the way he uses mathematical compositions to draw attention to different elements in his photographs;
- Milette Raats: for her book 'Present' containing photos of people in European cities. Simple and realistic;
- Rolph Gobbits: for his series about old people acting like circus actors, especially the ones in which a second person serves as audience;
- Thijs Wolzak: for his series about rich people showing their property and for making you think - would these people really be happy?

Old time favourite remains Wubbo de Jong, because he managed to take photos that are like windows. Without enforcing his personality neither on his subjects nor on the viewer of the photo. Wubbo de Jong was one of the initiators of the photo festival in Naarden, which in turn was derived from the annual photo festival in Arles.

Below photo shows the first part of the Naarden festival: exhibition 'In Memoriam', hosted in industrial containers:

(© Naarden - NL, 26 May 2007)
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Bulgaria and the EU

Posted 27 May 2007 - The Hague (NL):

Just like Romania, recent EU entrant Bulgaria is also having difficulties properly managing their newly acquired status of member.

(© Sofia - BG, April 2005)
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Smiling eyes (II)

Posted 28 May 2007 - The Hague (NL):

One of my favourite things about working in a photo shop (which I did for a few years) was to take passport photos. It was and still is a very big challenge to take a photo of somebody, with that person him/herself ending up liking that photo. The best portrait photos are photos that allow you not only to look AT a photo, but THROUGH one. Photos that tell you about that person rather than documenting his/her physical appearance. Passport photos were a good way of training just that, and provided quick feedback. The default reaction of a person is oftentimes rather rather negative. If somebody tells you he/she likes a photo you took of him/here, you know you can be sure you did a good job.

I hope that the portrait photos I take are sufficient counterbalance to other, rather abstract, photos in which people mainly serve - as elements rather than individuals.

Anyway.. My cousin (and his wife) got married last weekend and invited me to take photos of everybody who came to the evening party. That included quite some family members, and also my parents who feature in the photo below. Which brings me to what I was actually going to talk about throughout this posting: the different way in which different cultures perceive smiling. Westerners look at lips, Oriental people look at eyes. Which even leads to differences in the emoticons they use in digital communication (^-^)

(© Enschede - NL, May 2007)
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Moral paranoia po Polsku

Posted 29 May 2007 - The Hague (NL):

Yesterday's news was full of articles about a Polish political organistion opening investigations into whether one of the members of the well-known Teletubbies is homosexual or not, and whether that in turn was morally acceptable or not. The procedure has been cancelled, and rightly so. Why would a 4-year-old care about what a fictional character does or likes to do outside his working hours?

(© Amsterdam - NL, July 2003)
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Empty agenda policy undermined

Posted 30 May 2007 - The Hague (NL):

My agenda is a funny tool. It's generally quite empty at the beginning of each week, but messy and full when the week is over. It's more ad hoc planning than anything physically structured, and I like it that way. Having to propose to a friend to 'pick a datum' to meet is almost as annoying as people asking you Shouldn't you + a rethorical and patronising question, or Don't followed by something you just felt like doing.

Tough luck for me this time, as my agenda is starting to fill up between now and the beginning of August. It's good things, most of them, and some travelling as well.

- Copenhague, Sweden, Oslo and Scotland (photo), 8-23 June;
- Bialo Wiesa in Poland for work, 27-30 June;
- Normandy in France to document my cousin's wedding, halfway July..

..And plenty of other stuff and preparations and conceptualisations and commercialisations...

(© Edinburgh - UK, January 2001)
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-3 x as hot!

Posted The Hague (NL), 31 May 2007:

Once you visit a city, country, person or venue, it suddenly becomes interesting to follow what happens to your 'subject' after you got acquainted with it. In a process similar to my favourite chapter of Le Petit Prince where the little prince meets the fox and gets taught about emotional bonding.

I wasn't planning to write something as philosophical as that and just wanted to tell how my visit to Moscow made me quite curious about Russia and whatever is happening there. Most of it does not sound like very positive news, but there's always something happening at the other side of the previous Iron Curtain.

Today's news is about the heat wave that is striking the city. Which sounds almost bizarre, because when I was there in February, it was absolutely freezing! -12°C back then, compared to +36°C now. Let me see... That's minus three times as hot!

(© Moscow - RU, February 2007)
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