Watching is waiting
What am I looking at? And what do I see? If anything characterises the images I photograph, it is these questions. I have doubts about what I see, and want to go beyond what we think to know. But I also know that the extraordinary dwells in the ordinary. It’s for this reason that I photograph my close surroundings, pausing with what I imagine to know. The worlds I dwell in. This could be my children, my brother, perhaps my dog, or the places I inhabit: my home or while away.

This is perhaps a paradox in my approach to reality. In seeking the unknown and elusive, I find myself starting from what I think I know. It’s this detour that leads to the different ways of seeing that I wish to encounter and nurture. In order to invite surprise, I look at what is seemingly known and concrete, that which ought no longer to be of surprise, it’s here that I learn what I don’t yet know and hadn’t yet seen. There’s always more than what the facts tell us. This is where imagination turns the known into an unknown adventure, less resolved, less seemingly obvious.

I think of the photograph of the leaf floating in the swimming pool, how simple can it be. While the shadow below doubles and changes the image. The sunlight weaves traces through the water and gives the leaf and its doppelgänger the suggestion of both lightness and elusiveness, in a space that is wholly transparent and almost just as endless.

I photograph my brother Reinoud who lives in his own world, in his own balance in which the wisdom of the body outweighs the pulls of the mind. Where, from a world guided by reason, we can only observe and sense our limitations. And remain an outsider, despite how close he is to me.

This touches on a second paradox within my work. The closer I draw in with my camera lens to the people and details in my immediate surroundings, the more I realise the distance between us. Each being moves in their own way, with their own reason and necessity, and I watch in wonder.

I photograph a child hanging out of a window. They don’t see me. Their head is outside and sees a world that I don’t see. What feels so close disappears into the distance, to where the light beckons, unreachable and indeterminate.
The light in the photograph of the net and hand is similarly alienating, creating an uncanny distance. The image zooms in on the forearm, which, in the bright light, is held by its own shadow. Arm and shadow, together they form a whole, a new image that becomes something different. Our predominant ways of knowing are placed to the background, foregrounding a different sensibility that releases the net from a fate of being nothing more than an insignificant object. The net becomes an opening of possibilities. The net becomes a graphic drawing that blends in with the grooves of the white plasterwork. The net becomes.

This is what draws me in, in my observations with distance and light: the personal and close becoming both expansive and communal. I want to turn the intimate and familiar into an image that touches many, and that extends into different possible directions of meaning. I search for images that have this power to turn something into something else. Who can take the apparently known and familiar into a different direction.

This is something I wish to portray when I photograph a set of seven boules. The players are outside the frame, so there’s no game to be seen. My lens remains with the metal balls that are lying here on the gravel, doing nothing other than being in their random formation. If there are no players, there is no game. The balls are left to themselves and can be and become whatever they are. This space allows for association and possibilities to emerge and breathe.

And is their formation indeed random? It is as much coincidence as it is contingency. No one thought of the balls being positioned this way, just as a child wouldn’t think of looking in that way in a photograph I took from behind with what looks like a mesh laundry bag drawn over their hair. Without intention, something happens, just so. The choice to photograph the context away, and open the portals to free association is nevertheless a conscious decision, made with all my senses. 

For me, photography is waiting, waiting until I see and sense something that I did not know would or could emerge. Only when this encounter emerges do I apprehend what I was looking for. 
This requires time. Most of my images float between coincidence and contingency, between what I see and what I look for.

For me, this happens almost literally in the photograph of clouds above mountains. Of course the mountains were already there, offering an invitation for me to wait, for the clouds. And they appeared. Forming in the sky in a semblance that resembles the rolling peaks of the mountain massif. As though to mirror one another, unable to exist without each other.

My images want to articulate more than what they literally show. The image reaches beyond the boundaries of the photograph. And just as the unknown emerges from the known, imagination emerges through a widening of perception, expanding away from predominant ways of knowing and seeing. 

And perhaps that is also a paradox. In the way the orderly arranged tiles on the pool’s floor enhance the free floating undulations of light and leaf accompanied by their shadow. Or do perhaps the bars of a window offer a geometrically refined framing to the elusive image that’s emerging outside? Or the photograph in which light and shadow fall across a wall and floor — upon which we see two legs of a child — and split into three sharply cut oblique planes.

In each of these images the materiality of a form in conversation with light and its beaconing calls, orients seeing and sensing in directions that seems to lead outside the frame, beyond the image. Seeing by looking, and doubting.