Eric’s Note: I am pleased to share this interview with ECHIE, a new Dutch photography collective. I will let Caspar take it away from here to explain more.
Caspar Claasen: ECHIE is a new Dutch photography collective with four founding members: Peter Gerritsen, Regina van der Kloet, Peter de Krom and myself, Caspar Claasen. We are all fascinated by unposed photography – a term we prefer to streetphotography, since we think that term is often misunderstood or misinterpreted. To us unposed photography might be more a method than an actual genre: it’s a way of percieving the world, of making connections, of looking for unexpected stories and in the mundane.
We started ECHIE because we felt that the Dutch photography market could be served better as a collective – it can function as a focus point for press, galeries, museums and everyone else interested. We do believe we offer a substantially different type of (street)photography than that which the average photography audience is used to. But, perhaps first and foremost, a local collective is a very practical way to share knowledge & inspire eachother. And meet up for drinks… To us a collective that never actually meets up in the offline world makes little sense.
ECHIE’s first exhibition is right now at Qlick Editions gallery in Amsterdam, from September 7 – October 19.
To start off the interview, can you share with us: What is “ECHIE”?
Caspar Claasen: Well… that might be the hardest question to answer… since ECHIE is vitrually untranslatable. But to give it a try: there’s a saying in Dutch that goes “en nu voor het echie”. Which means you will now go and do something “for real“, only that’s not what it literally translates to. It’s a much more lighthearted way of putting it.
The expression means that, in a not so serious manner, you are saying something serious is about to happen. And that is how we often deal with our photography as well.
Can you share a little bit about your collective in terms of your photography and how you met everyone else in the collective (whether it be online or offline?)
Regina van der Kloet: I think what the four of us have in common in terms of our photography is a drive to share the way we see the world around us. Not with photojournalistic facts, but with the odd moments and strange details life gives us from time to time. We all spend quite some time and effort to share our vision, whether it is professionally or next to a ‘regular’ job.
Caspar and I met some time ago (actually, I believe it was when we met up with you, Eric!) and stayed in touch ever since. Caspar is also the one who knew the two Peters (he met Peter Gerritsen through the GKf, the Dutch Photographers Federation and Peter de Krom online, if I’m not mistaken), so all credit for getting us all together and getting this ball rolling really goes to him.
Tell us more about your upcoming launch and exhibition on September 7th at the Qlick Editions Gallery in Amsterdam.
Regina van der Kloet: We thought it would be fun to start off with not just a website, but something more tangible as well. Qlick Editions is an Amsterdam based gallery that focuses on emerging photographers and we are very happy that we have the opportunity to exhibit there with the whole group for six weeks.
As we want this exhibition to celebrate our collective rather than our individual work, we have decided to not separate our prints, but make one coherent exhibition. For me it is really nice to see how a picture I took, for example, looks between one of Peter de Krom and Caspar Claasen. I hope the visitors will think so, too.
The opening of the exhibition will also be our official launch party. The four of us always have a great time whenever we meet up, we thought it was about time to share those good vibes with others.
All of you practice shooting in the streets and mostly candid moments. What other similarities do you find in your work and how do you also find it to differ?
Peter de Krom: What we appear to have in common is a certain feel to our images. I think we always approach our subjects in a subtle way which give the resulting image a feeling of a welcoming distance. We’re not the photographer that has to jump into every situation forcing ourselves to get a good shot. We’re just out there and very lucky sometimes.
The differences can be found in style and location. I almost only photograph my hometown, but the others go everywhere around the world, or like Regina indoors.
What are some plans and visions you have for the collective? What are your goals artistically as well as commercially?
Peter Gerritsen: At the moment that is still a bit unclear. We are now fully concentrating on our upcoming exhibition and launch party. What happens after that, is hopefully that we will get more attention and perhaps more platforms to show our work.
What is the Dutch photography scene currently like?
Peter Gerritsen: Sometimes I think there are more Dutch photographers and artists than ‘normal’ people. There are a lot of schools for photography with very high standards. So every year the amount of photographers increases and as a result of that, the quality and competition. In general there is a lot of interest and focus on photography. Our biggest cities are crowded with galleries and even museums specialized in photography. The diversity in photography is also overwhelming, so…
What do you hope to personally get out of the collective, and how do you plan on contributing to it?
Peter de Krom: I very much like the fact that my photos now have the chance to get a whole new meaning or different feel to it when their being presented next to images of other members. Your photos can work in ways you’ve never expected. Because of this new stories about the Dutch or even world culture emerge in strange ways.
With my contribution I hope to show more about the Dutch culture from the perspective of a small town. Especially since most photography in the public domain takes place in the bigger cities, which most of the time do not represent a country.
What do you think makes ECHIE unique from the other photography collectives currently out there?
Regina van der Kloet: Perhaps a bit obvious, but to me the biggest difference is that I am part of it. There are many collectives out there that each have something unique to show the world. One thing that perhaps makes us unique is that we live pretty close together (Peter Gerritsen lives only 5 minutes biking from my place!), so it’s easy to meet in person. Partly because of this we have a very open way of communicating, where everybody is free to speak their mind and have their own stubborn opinion.
We can only hope that this manages to shine though and that we will be able to show what we have in common, but also what makes each of us unique.
Are there certain obligations that each member has to the collective?
Peter Gerritsen: We don’t do that. When a problem are question arises, we improvise and try to come to an agreement. That is always going very well (until now). We try to divide occurring jobs and tasks equally.
Unfortunately we don’t have a single specialist who reads all the mail and answers it without blinking :)
Any advice you would give to potential photographers who would want to apply to be a part of ECHIE? Any traits in a photographer you guys are particularly looking for?
Peter de Krom: ECHIE is about combining the work of people that seek for a certain amount of truth and authenticity in their work, without using too dominant photographic approaches and techniques. As a member I guess you should look at the familiar world around you as a human being first, or even better as a anthropologist and only in the end as a photographer.
Small print: you’d have to be living in The Netherlands – we’d need to be able to really meet up.
© All photographs are copyrighted by the respective photographers.
Links to our individual websites can be found on www.ECHIE.nl