Interview with Tjeerd Doosje
Could you please introduce yourself and tell us how you started in the arts? and your first experience in art making?
I'm Tjeerd Doosje, a 51 year old self taught photographer from the Netherlands. My official profession is being a math teacher at a highschool. In the early years of this millenium I discovered a computer program called Poser. This program is in fact a virtual photostudio in which you've to pose and lighten a subject. After a couple of years playing with this program, I became interested in the real photography. I got one of the first 3MP digital cameras and took photos at events at my school. At the end this resulted of being the "schoolphotographer" with more advanced equipment. Then there was this makeup course at our school and I made a collaboration with the makeup artist, doing some mini photoshoots at the end of each lesson. One pupil in particular always attended the lessons and because I liked doing photoshoots so much, I asked her and her parents whether it would be okay to do a full photoshoot at their home. They approved and in July 2012 the first "official" photoshoot was a fact. I was thrilled and nervous at the same time but the experience was a good one and also the photos that came out of the shoot, got a warm welcome, not only by the model and parents but also at the viewers of 500px.
How would you describe yourself and your artwork?
I'm an impassioned photographer who wants to connect with my models. I aways hear other photographers talk about their subject and although that may be the right term, I think it's an odd expression, because in this kind of photography we're talking about and with persons and saying "subject" de-humanize the person in my opinion. I want to portrait the person in a slightly other way than a "normal" portrait. I'm a perfectionist both during the shoots as well as in the postproduction. That means that the lighting on set must be right and I must have that connection with my model which, by the way, always starts in pre-production. It sometimes means that placing the model and/or light is a matter of segments of inches. During the shoot I already know which photos will be post-processed because I get thrilled by the image I just shot.
My images have, most of the time, more contrast and saturated colours than what seems to be the trend nowadays.
The models in my photos are most of the time inexperienced because I think that gives a person in the photo more charisma and purity.
Where do you get your inspiration from?
I get my inspiration from several sources, but foremost by browsing through other fashion- and portraitphotographers images. Beside that I got inspired by motion pictures and the way the crew lit a scene. Lastly I can get inspired by music. That's also where my motto comes from: "Shine for me and I'll shine for you", a line from the lyrics "Shine for me" by Jon & Vangelis (1991).
What emotions do you hope the viewers experience when looking at your art?
I'm not specifically aiming for a certain emotion that viewers must experience. The experience of art, in my opinion, is different to everyone. Each of us will have their own personal history carrying with him that will be unintentional reflected in their perspection of an artwork. A child will view an artwork in a different way than an adult. What I do hope is that my photos moves a person in someway or another and makes a kind of connection with them. When a person is browsing/swiping through all the photos being published nowadays and he/she rest his eyes a bit longer on my photo, that connection has been made.
When do you know that an artwork is finished?
As being a perfectionist a photo is never finished but good enough to show the world. As part of the process, I always set the latest version of a photo as the desktop wallpaper on my computer so that, when I come back to my computerscreen, I can look at it with fresh eyes. Most of the time an image will stay for at least one day being a wallpaper before I give the green light to deliver it to the model and uploading it to the internet and/or social media.
What has been the most exciting moment in your art career so far?
There is not a particular moment being the most exciting so far: there are a couple, one of them being finalist of the Celeste Prize 2016 and exhibition in the O.X.O. Tower Wharf, (London) and also the invitation to publish and being published in an international art book. After that I got invitations to exhibit my work in galleries in different parts in the world (New York, London, Milan), although that have never led to an actual exhibition yet.
How long does it take to produce one work?
When not considering the preproduction and the photoshoot itself, the time spending on a photo differs from two hours to three days (calculated in working days of eight hours).
What exciting projects are you working on right now? Can you share some of the future plans for your artworks?
I'm having health issues since a couple of months so unfortunately everything has come to a standstill right now. When being recovered I hope to continue with my (neverending?) angel series.
Do you have any upcoming events or exhibitions we should know about?
I will get an award in November this year, the International Prize Andrea Mantegna, in the Social Theatre of Mantova (Italy).
Where do you see your art going in five years?
That's a hard one. The main goal for me is to get more (paid) assignments to produce any photos. That seems to be the biggest problem I ran into the last couple of years: finding models who want to stay in front of my camera. And with that said, I think art evolves during time and depends, in my case, on the connection between the model(s) and the makeup artist(s) and the creativity that manifests during the photoshoots. In my opinion it's never my art alone, but also a collaboration between people that reflects in the photo. Without model(s) there would never be a piece of art like I'm making.