An interview with photographer Bastiaan Woudt
Bastiaan Woudt (1987, NL) is a sought-after photographer that started a mere ten years ago without formal training. Besides his raw talent, he owes his rise in the art world to a strong work ethic and an entrepreneurial edge. From emotive portraits to mystic landscape photography, he is known to capture monochrome minimalism at its finest.
In light of Bastiaan’s exhibition currently being held at at MENDO’s flagship store in Amsterdam. We sat down with him to talk about his practice, the making of his new book – Rhythm and what he finds inspiring as an artist.
What characterizes your photography?
I don’t think I can describe it better than Annabel van Eijk. She has written my biography and says the following about my work;
“With charcoal tones and elegant compositions, his photography feels like stepping into a modern painting. Light and shadow dance elegantly. You’ll find a hint of surrealism as the sober shades ask you to see only the essence and awakens every detail. His work is minimalistic yet moves, playing with the beauty of imperfection — again, inspired by 50s, 60s and 70s photography. He honors this photography while exploring how modern in-camera methods and post-production can elevate the style of today.”
What kind of camera do you work with?
These days I work with the Fujifilm medium format system: GFX100. Previously I always worked with Phaseone. Beautiful files, but very expensive and very sensitive to dust, sand and water. Something that is not really handy when you shoot a lot on the road. Fujifilm system is perfect for this but is also great in the studio. I myself see no difference with the Phase one brand.
Can you tell us more about your muse?
I came in contact with Tinotenda about 7 years ago. Through a post on facebook she responded to a shoot I wanted to plan. During this first shoot we already knew that this would become a beautiful and long lasting collaboration. We understand each other through and through, and don’t have to explain much during shoots. Tino understands like no other what kind of images I want to shoot. She is also a very nice and sweet person. There is always a lot of fun and laughter on set, something that is very important.
‘I'm not looking for the truth, I want to tell my story.’
‘I'm not looking for the truth, I want to tell my story.’
Why the choice for predominantly black and white?
A couple of years ago I started experimenting a lot to find out what I would like to make now. I quickly found out that color is not interesting enough for me. I like to look at lines, abstractions, structure and texture. In a portrait I can be extremely disturbed by color. It distracts me from the essence of someone’s face. It also plays a major role in my opinion that because we already see daily life in color, the added value of color in the photo is lost. I like to show something that others might not be able to see, and converting it to black and white removes the last bit of reality. I’m not looking for the truth, I want to tell my story.
Many of your photos are graphic, a sort of interplay of lines, with structures and shapes, an almost rhythmic repetition (hence the title) why?
This has grown over the years and has become part of my vision and style. It’s the rhythm that dictates so much in life. “Rhythm” in my mind is applicable to my work. The rhythm of the pages, the rhythm of the lines. The rhythm of the shapes and the rhythm of the people. Before my career as a photographer began I was active in music, also a world that revolves around rhythm. It’s a term that keeps coming back in my life. The rhythm of life. The cadence of black and white.
‘I am so terribly proud of this book. I think this is my biggest accomplishment of my career so far. ’
Why do you find the work of Irving Penn and Richard Avedon so interesting?
These are the two photographers who made me fall in love with photography. The dynamics in their images, the rawness of the way the black and white portraits come in. The way richard avedon changed fashion photography completely in my opinion. It is a perfect combination of perfect and imperfect.
Your new book is impressive. How did it come about?
Thanks! The book is a self reflective document that I’m proud to say was published by 1605 Publishers, my own publishing house. For me personally the process of selecting, post producing and revisiting 10 years of such personal work has been a cathartic experience during the pandemic. My creative evolution, who I am today and where I’m headed as a photographer has now been encapsulated within exactly 500 pages.
What is it like for you to see such a large part of your work bundled?
I am so terribly proud of this book. I think this is my biggest accomplishment of my career so far. My hope for this document is to not be considered the reflection of a time, moreover for it to be an ever-growing entity, which can be added onto and even re-published for years to come.
Where does the title Rhythm come from?
The rhythm of the book is dictated by the correlation between the image you see and the one consecutively. Not determined by series, purely selected by how one image ‘speaks’ to the other. A personal journey through my own body of work, highlights throughout my career, projects that I’ve done and people that I’ve had the pleasure of meeting. All selected and edited by me.
We got to know you as someone who is busy with many things. Do you still have time to shoot?
Haha. Time is getting scarcer, but of course I make enough time to work on my photography. It just so happens that it takes more planning, which isn’t a bad thing because then you only do the things you really want to do. I also get so much energy from my new company 1605 Publishers. Sometimes you have to make choices.
Can you tell us more about your next book, is it coming soon?
I don’t have a new book scheduled yet. After working on this book for so long, I want to enjoy it to the fullest. Also, I don’t think you should publish books of your own too quickly in a row. Then people get a little tired of you.
You are a loyal “supporter” of MENDO and have been visiting us since the beginning of our existence, surely only because of Roy?
I am definitely a loyal supporter of MENDO. Your taste, selection and way of working I admire very much. I appreciate the time spent with Roy in the process of making this book. The rest of the team is pretty awesome as well. 😉
About the book
A personal journey through photographer Bastiaan Woudt’s own body of work, highlights of his career, projects that he’s done and people that he’s had the pleasure of meeting. Available now. Shop a signed copy.
Two cover options
The book comes in two cover options. Pictured here is cover ‘Carlos’. Click here for cover ‘Rhythm’
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