I love where I live. It is in the heart of Amsterdam’s Red Light District. It used to be very unsafe here, but today the junkies and dealers have traded places with thousands of tourists. I am not saying it will stay this way forever, because we can see some deterioration going on here and there, but the city council is right on it, so we expect to see some slow improvements in the coming decades. I even loved this part of the city when it was our very own Hell’s Kitchen with junkies crawling all over the place. As a rule junkies are too softhearted to go about the daily routines as we all have to do. You do not go for heroin if you plan to be an aggressor. It is the dealers we have to watch out for, but as I stated before it is mostly entertainment here now. Some very famous bars for gays and drag queens took over the Zeedijk – once the artery of heroin trade in Amsterdam. So there is a lot to do and a lot to photograph.
I do not own a lot of cameras like most photographers, but I have three. The most important one is the camera I work with in the studio. Strangely enough that camera, the Nikon 810, is just a work horse for me, I have no special affinity with it except for the fact that it delivers great images.
If I treat myself to an afternoon of stressless street photography, I like to pick up the Canon XC10, which is basically a product nobody likes. It was promoted as a professional 4K camera, but it is more of a fancy camcorder. It has a setting for photography too, delivering 12 megapixel pictures. Despite the many negative reviews the camera received, I absolutely adore it. I use it for both video and photography.
The picture above was taken with the photo function of the XC10. A couple standing at the canal. They look like they have been together for a long, long time. Despite their different features they somehow started to look alike. A process that has taken them years, I guess.
BTW, this was the last time ever I will discuss cameras or photographic techniques, because – as most of us know – photography is never about technique, it always about light and composition.
I joined a real street photographer for an afternoon walk through Amsterdam and some hanging around Dam Square. Like a good studio photographer I shot about 600 pictures, while he shot about twenty. When I uploaded them to my computer, the one above actually came as a surprise. It was as if I had not made that photograph. It didn’t even seem to be taken in Amsterdam. One would think it was taken in Vienna. Of course we do have some horses and carriages in the city for sightseeing purposes, but that does not explain the way the child is dressed. He or she looks like a character straight out of Visconti’s film Death in Venice.
The boy in the middle reminded me of the Stones song All The Way Down. Especially the lyrics: I was King, Mr Cool, just a snotty little fool, like kids are now / I dreamed of reaching greater heights, I raved about it every night.
Looking at this young couple I was reminded of how I ran away from home with my girlfriend when I was an adolescent and I could not help wondering if these two were in a similar situation. Running away from home to end up in Amsterdam is not an easy thing to do.
I really felt sorry for the guy unbuckling his safety belt while his girlfriend was pointing out other possible danger rides on the fair. I guess this is real love. The Prince song ‘I would die 4 u’ comes to mind. I rarely feel responsible for the people I photograph, but I stood there for a minute or two to see if he was alright. His walk seemed a little wobbly but for the rest he looked pretty okay. I have to give him credit for holding on to that ticket while being tossed around in the air.