Recently a friend in the US requested photo copies of the Rockers series for a poetry project and I started looking at the sheets with negatives. Most of these images are digitized, but I like to look at the old sheets. The first sheet had a date on it. April, 1977. That is 40 years ago… The tagline of my site reads ‘a collection of over 30 years of photography’ while in fact I am a photographer for more than 40 years. The Rockers series was not my first project. It was the first successful one. Looking at the copy of the invitation above it is obvious that it took me a year to get the series exhibited.
The Rockers series has always been special to me. At first the series bankrupted me. I shot over 600 rolls of film while I was supposed to work for an advertising agency doing product photography. I hated that. The products kept piling up in my studio while I was drawn further into the world of these greasers as I called them, or in my native tongue vetkuiven. The title of the series was altered to accommodate an international public in Brussels. Soon after the exhibit – which left me broke but convinced of the fact that advertising was really not my thing – I was asked to photograph for several magazines.
In 40 years the Rockers created more income than any other series I have produced.
As requested I sent my friend the photo copies and I also digitally remastered the main series of 32 images to print them and put them in a box that went along with the photo copies. I do not know exactly why I did this, but remastering and printing the rockers felt necessary. It was almost like editing the works of a different photographer, although I have to admit that my style of photography has not changed much since 1977. I am still photographing people against a neutral background.
I often refer to myself as the most boring photographer on the planet because I never changed my way of working. Despite that my photographs often ignite controversy in many countries. Maybe by printing the Rockers once over I was going to find the reason for my consistent approach to photography. I soon realized it was never ‘all’ about photography. I used to hate the technical stuff and especially working with nasty chemicals – until professional digital photography came around in 2000. I was looking for ways to understand others, mostly people I would never meet in day to day life. Until I reached 30 I photographed mostly men. It was obvious I was looking for my own identity.
After 40 my works became sexually charged and the people I photographed were mostly women. It seems logical now. I never understood much about intimacy. This may very well have been caused by a long period of being sexually abused in a hospital during puberty. Sexuality is or can be the ultimate expression of intimacy. Very old wounds rarely heal completely so expect me to create sexually charged photographs until I die.
Most importantly I now realize that I have to apologize to my art teacher who once taught me that all art is about the person creating it. I laughed at him and told him my work as a photographer was about the people I photographed. I now have to admit he was right and I was wrong.
On May 18th the ArtUndressed festival kicks off in Miami, Florida. I am participating in the nude art exhibit with three works. Two photographs from the series ‘The Russians Are Coming!’ and one from the WAM series. If you happen to be in the neighborhood, please stop by and make a few snapshots of my work there. I will not be attending and this should not be considered as a political statement. I rarely attend to group exhibits that require a lot of traveling. Shipping the artworks with all the red tape involved is enough stress for me.
After deactivating my personal account on Facebook I noticed that I lost interest in most other networks too. But I did in fact miss a few things. Such as easily contacting my models and a private way of sharing photographs through the Messenger. I am aware all this can be done through WhatsApp and other products. And last but not least there is always E-mail, but I noticed that a lot of people I work with are so swamped with work related messages that responding can not always be a priority. For some it is even harder to catch up on E-mail using a smart phone.
So, I decided to create my own network for friends and models. I have been working on it for a month now in my spare time. A lot of tweaking needed to be done. The site is fully functional now and I am testing it with a few friends.
First of all, the site is completely secure to protect people who create an account by using the SSL or https protocol. Most of the content is shielded from the general public by a registration system. Registering to the site is free, but accounts are manually activated to keep those away who have no business whatsoever to be an active member of the site.
Furthermore the site is divided into groups. One has to subscribe to a group to get to see its content. A membership request for the group Models Sets will only be activated if you have actually posed for me or if you belong to a small group of trusted friends. This way models can always pick up their photographs on the site without fear of works being distributed on the web without their consent.
There is also a private messaging system which makes it easier for me to separate my own important messages from the pile of mail and app messages I receive through various other channels. Models and friends can create their own profiles and befriend people, much like any regular social network. This network however is microscopically small, despite the many photographs hosted there, and of course it is only about photography.
Two sections however are open to the general public and that is my new portfolio that still needs to be expanded and the news feed. If you have posed for me or if you have been in contact with me over the years feel free to register. So far I have not invited people to join for two reasons: I am not completely certain this will actually work as an efficient way to keep in touch with the people I work with and I only want people in who really care for my work. In other words; I want to keep this site as exclusive as I possibly can. I am not aiming for lots of traffic.
The site you are looking at right now will stay my main site for quite some time and I will keep updating it, but please have a look at the new site too: https://hansvanderkamp.net.