World Fine Art Professionals and their Key-Pieces, 171 - Dutch J. den Hollander
Dutch den Hollander prefers to photograph people. This was shown at the exhibition Dutch’ Exposure that was recently shown in the WM Gallery. The more than 92 photographs on Dutch’ Exposure gave an overview of his 50-year career as a photographer, while his 75th birthday was also celebrated during the opening.
“At the start of my career, people posed in front of me, spontaneity got a bit lost," says Dutch when I speak to him in the gallery. "You then often see friendly or smiling people who are very aware of the presence of the photographer and who are therefore not really themselves. That's why these pictures look similar. I want to try to capture exactly how people feel at that moment, what is going on in them. That is exciting." As time progressed and especially the digital cameras became smaller, quieter and faster, he succeeded to increasingly photograph them unnoticed up close: 'From the hip'. "Without looking at what I have in view."
Walking across the Amsterdam Dappermarkt, he saw for example 'an old lady who is struggling with life'. "I want to photograph that. So that you get an idea through the photo how she feels, how her life is. It does not always work, but you get more and more feeling for it, also for the right moment." It was shown by his photographs on the exhibition that were made in Thailand, Paris and Cannes. That method arose more or less coincidental when he photographed two nights in an Antwerp pub: "People no longer see you because after some time you have become part of the furniture. This allows you to work inconspicuously and try to capture ‘real life’. It works like that in a crowd of people too."
He started to photograph about 50 years ago. "I had to be enlisted by the navy but I did not feel like it and I signed for four years at the Air Force as a Short Term Volunteer. As a sergeant I ended up in Rheine and Bielefeld in Germany and was the owner of a bunker with four soldiers, seven guided weapons and three launchers. It paid well, I had a lot of free time and could start thinking about what I wanted to 'become'. "
There were also a few Americans who soon called him Dutchy, 'Hi Dutchy', because of his surname, while his real name is Jaap. In the meantime, his brother Hans used Jaap's slide rule on the Higher Technical College with the name 'Jaap den Hollander' on it. His classmates therefore began to call Hans Jaap and Hans thought that was a nice name. "In the meantime I had been photographing in Germany in my spare time, bought a Petri 7s and thought that I wanted to become a photographer. Meanwhile, there had come a darkroom in the attic of our house in Breda. Then I thought, I keep the name Dutchy, that's a good artist name. At a later age it becomes 'Dutch'. "
It also helped that there was photography talent in his family. Grandpa Jakob den Hollander, a baker in Middelburg, had photography as a hobby. In 1910 he portrayed the local garrison on the glass plate. His mother Nellie also photographed, preferably in nature, and his youngest brother Paul graduated as a photographer from the St. Joost Academy in Breda.
Dutch was born in Middelburg, but after the war the Den Hollanders moved to Breda. There, after his service, Dutch began with his first assignments as a professional photographer. He gets his customers from the Breda pubs and the small theater 'De Trapkes'. Dutch is also in contact with students from St. Joost. One of them is Jaap Wolterbeek who is making the final exam film 'Rijksweg 58' (Highway 58). Wolterbeek asks Dutch to do still photography for the film. A Citroen DS must also be purchased, in which actor Leen Jongewaard crashes in the film. Dutch drives the DS total loss for the film recordings. The film was broadcast in 1969 by VPRO.
When Jaap Wolterbeek then reads in the newspaper that a nuclear power plant will be built at Borssele on Walcheren, he decides, with Dutch, to send a tender to PZEM about a film about the construction of the plant. They get the assignment and start working as 'Future Films'. They move and rent a flat in Middelburg-South. It turns out that in Middelburg many try-outs of performances by musicians such as Willem Breuker, Hans Dulfer, Lodewijk de Boer, Han Bennink and the Sissies take place. A nice extra and another world to photograph. It can all be seen in the magazine 'Dutch', a one-off edition on the occasion of the exhibition with many photographs that are not on display at the expo and that tell a bit more about the life course of Dutch with regard to his photography and relationships.
In 1973 Dutch with his girlfriend Henriëtte leaves for Amsterdam. "I had the idea that I had seen all 30,000 inhabitants of Middelburg once and Amsterdam attracted me enormously." He still regularly goes up and down to Zeeland to complete the nuclear power film and other film assignments, such as a film about Zierikzee. In Amsterdam he meets Nico van der Stam who has a photo studio in the Tweede Jacob van Campenstraat. Van der Stam was best known for photographing pop artists. “That looked very sweet with pop groups for a windmill or a tulip field. Pop photography had yet to be invented." Among others, Govert de Roos and Claude Vanheye had worked for Van der Stam. Dutch starts with the installation of electricity in a few rooms and then goes on the road as a photojournalist. "A wonderful time with lots of impressions and a lot of learning from the contact with all those people. And the working atmosphere was fine: The day started with a delicious espresso and for lunch a fish was often bought from the nearby Albert Cuyp market. "
On July 7, 1974, he walks to Schiphol Airport to pick up and photograph an Italian opera singer. It is very busy and he suddenly realizes that the Dutch national football team is going to land. It lost the World Cup final against Germany the day before. There is a depressed mood among the fans present. Suddenly he sees a sad looking boy with a cap with HOLLAND on it. He takes a picture of him and continues looking for the singer. Months later, he sends in the photo for the Silver Camera competition for photojournalists and wins the 1st Prize Portraits in the News.
It is 1975 and Charlotte, the sister of Jet (Henriëtte) gets the idea that she wants to visit her ex-boyfriend, who now lives with his family in Beirut. Do Jet and Dutch feel like going along with her in her new blue 2CV. Ah, why not? It is only 5000 km. Through Yugoslavia, Bulgaria, Turkey and Syria they finally arrive at a campsite outside of Beirut. At night they hear gunfire in the city: militia of the PLO fight against the Christian Falangists. These are the first skirmishes of the Lebanese Civil War that only ended in 1990. When Dutch makes a picture of a building in the city men run to him and he has to take the film out of his camera. He quickly takes the film from another camera that does not have a lot of special features and pulls it out. He appears to have taken a picture of a stronghold of the Falangists. After a few hours he is released and that is a party, because you never know for sure how such a thing ends. He still has the photo of that building. After some disagreement with Charlotte, he decides to hitchhike back to the Netherlands. In Aleppo he stays for a few days to photograph. On the way, past Thessaloniki, hitchhiking with four Americans in a VW bus, he sees a blue 2CV standing by the roadside. After 4000 km he meets Jet and Charlotte again. A large number of his 'Lebanon photos' were on display at the exhibition and in the DUTCH magazine.
At the end of the seventies, an AV company asks him to work for them as a photographer. He likes to agree to the offer because as a freelance photojournalist it is not always hosanna. He works there for 12 years and comes into contact with video. He becomes cameraman, director and editor. He photographs a lot less because everything revolves around moving images. Because the company makes bad investments and does not keep up with the times, his department is slowly coming to an end. Eventually he goes away and in 1990 he starts for himself with 'Moving Image', photography and video. He gets a relationship with Anne-Miek and that also yields new assignments. "She worked for Onze Woning / De Key. I have photographed and filmed a lot for them. For example, I have recorded the entire De Key housing stock. "
'Moving Image' still had to get really going, so Dutch was still looking for work. He met Dick van den Oever who had just started his company CAPS. Dick has good connections with a number of large companies and they are going to work together. They make many video productions in the medical sector, the Boekenbal (the yearly writers dance night), music and theater registrations and for companies such as Bouwfonds, Philips and ABN Amro. They work together for ten years.
"I can lead a wonderful free life", says Dutch. "I have always been able to earn my living with film, video and photography." Accidental encounters have played a major role in this. He came across people with whom he clicked and with whom he worked together for many years. "I never really refused an assignment because I thought I could not. With the experience I have and my common sense I must be able to achieve that, I thought. Every time everything ended well. With my films I have the advantage of being a photographer as well: every shot must be well-framed, just like you take a picture. That gives quietness to the image and then you can make more camera movements without it becoming too much. I make almost everything without a script. I immerse myself in the subject and start filming. When I'm done I've made all the shots to make a good movie.”
We are talking about two of his films: 'Faces In Foam' and 'NY Subway Hip Shoot'. On the first video, we see Daniel Gould, an American art critic in Amsterdam, at the opening of an exhibition in FOAM in 2011. In the midst of the incoming visitors, we see Gould pontifically in the middle, looking straight into the camera. "He probably thought I was going to make a picture of him, but I was constantly filming him. For me it was a kind of test to work cinematically, by manually placing the focus from one person to another in FOAM. When I got home I thought that Gould looked like an old Andy Warhol might look like. I edited the images on the song 'Faces and Names' by Lou Reed and John Cale about Andy Warhol. See: https://vimeo.com/192641728
On the second film from 2011, Dutch worked with the same camera, a Lumix GH2. "It looks like an SLR camera for photography, but it is a system camera with which you can also film. I went into the subway of New York with a rotating camera and recorded everything without looking. People think that there is an older man with a camera around his neck, but that man is recording video all the time. I film people from a meter away without realizing it. Under a part of the film I put the song 'Eli' by Jan Akkerman and Kaz Lux, but a lot of music just comes from the subway itself. At the end I come back to the ground at Time Square where a band is playing. See: https://vimeo.com/192481615
Finally: does Dutch still have a philosophical conclusion? "I do not like deep philosophy. I am a photographer and filmer, that's great. I want to 'catch' life. "
1) 1970. Neerkant Brabant, 2) 1974. Amsterdam Schiphol, 3) 1974, Amsterdam, 4) 1975. Beirout, 5) 1975. Middelburg Zeeland, 6) 1982. Bombay, 7) 1983. Antwerp, 8) 2009. Juan-les-Pins, 9) 2012. Paris, 10) 2013. Dutch, 11) 2013. Thailand, 12) 2015. Amsterdam, 13) 2016. Cannes, 14) 2017. Amsterdam