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Capturing Contrasts With Jordi Huisman

Thursday 23 July 2015

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Jordi Huisman is a commercial, editorial and documentary photographer from the Netherlands. His methodical approach to juxtaposition produces strikingly stylish landscapes. 

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What made you decide to do photography after your Engineering and Design studies?
I realised during the studies that working in any engineering job wouldn’t make me happy. At the time photography evolved from a hobby into my sole source of income, and I felt happy as could be that I was able to make a living off of it. So I decided to go to the art academy to fully develop my photographic skills and insights. I did finish the engineering studies first, in case the whole photography path turned out to be a dead end.

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Do you think your engineering past influences your work now?
Not in an obvious way. I make portraits for an engineering magazine every month or so. And when I talk to the people I have to photograph for them, most of the time I can understand a bit of what they’re doing. And I guess that it helps with understanding how light, lenses and camera’s work. But that is about it, I don’t have a clear preference for engineering-themed subjects. 

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Tell me about the photography scene in Holland?
It’s very active. But since it’s not a very big country, you get to know the people that matter quickly. When you visit events such as book fairs, discussion nights, etc you often see the same faces. There is a lot going on with photo books over here. And of course there’s Foam photography museum in Amsterdam which has quite some influence, and since a few years the Unseen photo fair that draws a load of galleries and artists.

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What would you say is your favourite photo? Any why?
I’ve been thinking a while now about my favourite picture. It’s really hard I must say, but I decided it is this one (see below).

Here’s why. This picture has been made with a Toyo 45A, a 4×5” view camera. It’s from my Outline series. There’s something about the colours in it that really resonated with me, it’s greens and blues for 95% and I like that a lot. Also, it’s very sad in a way, a palm tree in such a not-exotic country like the Netherlands. I like the stains of light on the right in the picture very much, it shows the power of a 4×5” film. With every camera I ever worked with, there’s a certain point where I feel I really ‘get’ the camera. I don’t mean get as in understanding how it works technically, but as in how to use its full potential combined with the best I can do. It’s a turning point. All pictures taken before that moment are sort of exercises, working towards that point. Not that all pictures taken during the practicing are useless though. It’s a subconscious process. This picture shows that moment for the Toyo. I took this picture around September 2011, and I still feel very good about it, it doesn’t get boring to me – which happens much sooner with other pictures I make.

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What would be your dream commission?
To do Rear Window commissioned by a capital, that would be the best. My plan is to visit many more cities to expand the series, and it would really be awesome if a city asked me to come and do it. It would be the ideal combination between free work and client work. I’ve had a few of those assignments before, but never as good as that hypothetical job.

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What advice would you give to aspiring photographers?
It’s probably not a new thing: but make the work that you feel like making. Don’t try to copy others too much, although it’s necessary in the beginning (I’ve been there). But don’t try to be original just to be original, either.

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What can we see from you in 2015?
I just did Rear Window in Brussels, and maybe I’ll do another capital later this year. There’s a plan to make a proper book of the series with The Velvet Cell (we released a zine of Rear Window in 2014) But next to that I just became a father this April, so I’m trying to be home as much as possible for now.

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