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We are living in an age of Holy Wars and blasphemy is mostly directed towards Islam. With the Christian Fundamentalists in the US about to ruin the whole world, I thought it was time to have a closer look at the icons of our own culture of Devotion, Immaculate Conception, Denial and Self-chastising.
It is quite a challenge to photograph Dominatrixes because they are used to giving orders, whereas a successful photo shoot in a studio depends on the ability of the photographer to give the right directions.
In the midst of all the political turmoil between Russia, America and Europe I was asked by Alexander Donskoy to stay in Moscow for two weeks to do a photo assignment and he was generous enough to give me two days in a studio to do my own photography.
When I first exhibited these photographs the response was either very positive, or extremely negative. I recall a young gallery owner from Edinburgh who claimed in harsh wording that old people should keep their cloths on. The atmosphere around nudity involving people over 35 seems more relaxed now, 15 years later.
When I created these images, I was intrigued by couples. Mainly because I felt inadequate in most of my own relationships.
This is the first series I shot that became successful in 1977. First exhibit was at Photo Gallery Cyclope in Brussels. This particular series has been published countless times over the years.
In 1996 I started a website for Dutch literature and art. Of course that involved portraying most of the artists featured in this web magazine.
If there is one theme that stayed with me over me the years it is gender diversity. The first photographs date back to 1976.
Girls are the easiest to photograph. They are still exploring themselves which is a fascinating process to capture with a camera.
At age 50 I decided to photographically catalogue all human sexual expression in the form of portraits. I thought this would be a five year project but I see now there is no end to the diversity of human sexuality.
I was sent over to New York and Los Angeles frequently while working for Dutch magazines, so I decided to stay in New York. Unfortunately these were the days of Reaganomics, the dollar soared and the little income I had coming in from the Netherlands was just enough to pay for the rent. Film for my camera soon became a luxury. I learned how to think before I pressed the button. The hard way. Most of these photographs come from one roll of film.
The first time I had a doll in front of my camera I felt hopeless. As a portrait photographer I am used to check facial expressions to see if I am giving the right direct directions. Dolls however have masks with two tiny holes in it to see. So there simply are no expressions. I ended up doing the poses myself for them to copy, a technique I still use in more complex photo shoots.