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Harmen Meinsma
Sat 27 Apr
Function Free-lance Photographer
Year 2018
Major Photography
Practice Autonomous Practices

I will never leave the house without a fabulous chaperone.

What is your occupation now?

I am a photographer working on colourful personal and commercial projects. I see photography as a way to shine a spotlight on the outcasts of this world.

Favourite WdKA memory?

I am grateful for everything I learned while following the Honours programme. The programme itself and the teachers were very challenging for me, but I enjoyed it very much. However, my favourite memory has to be working on my graduation project. The series ‘My Dear Joyce’ was such a blast to create and the guidance I had received throughout this project is something I am still grateful for, in particular, the help from Photography tutor Fee Arnold and Theory tutor Renee Turner. Read this project's full story in I-D Vice magazine (in Dutch).

"My Dear Joyce". The first twenty years of my life I grew up with my grandmother. When I was a teenager I struggled with being gay in a small town. I felt left out and sometimes lonely. I started building small decors in my bedroom and making self-portraits. In this project, my love and admiration towards my grandmother are my inspiration. My muse Joyce embodies those who feel left out.

What did you gain from your study at WdKA?

During my study, I gained a lot of confidence in my work. The time at the academy helped me in understanding why I make certain photography choices. At first, I was used to working more intuitively. With the help of my teachers, I have learned to make connections related to a broader spectrum of subjects that inspire me, for example, gay culture, queer and racial studies. Also, the academy taught me to look critically at images and scrutinize my own work and that of my peers.

What is the future of your profession in your opinion?

One might think that anybody with a smartphone can be a photographer nowadays, but I think the opposite is true. I think photography comes from within, not everyone has an eye for it. And I find it very exciting, being a photographer at this time. Inspiration is everywhere and a lot of interesting disciplinary crossovers are happening galore. Also, with platforms like Instagram and Facebook, you can find a big audience for yourself.

I find it very exciting, being a photographer at this time.

I will never leave the house without a fabulous chaperone.

You never leave your house without…?

I will never leave the house without a fabulous chaperone.

Any words of advice to future students?

Enjoy every second of your time at the academy, even though sometimes it can be a very challenging and even terrifying place. My experience is that when the path you take feels scary, it means you are moving in the right direction. It is about producing new work and critical thinking. Do not forget to also have fun while you’re at it. And also very important: invest effort in finding a good internship! I learned so much during my internships at Jouk Oosterhof and Elza Jo.

"My Dear Joyce" series, 2017

Name your favourite recent project.

Actually, there are three recent projects I am really proud of! First, the most recent the series of portraits ‘Laatbloeiers‘ for the magazine &C this last month. This was my very first job for a more commercial platform and I am happy how it turned out. I am also proud of how the theme of this project corresponds with my free work; this means my clients are getting familiar with my vision and like it.

"Laatbloeiers" series for the magazine &C
"Laatbloeiers" series for the magazine &C

The second favourite has to be the series ‘The Family Jewels‘, dedicated to five drag performers from Rotterdam. I shot this series in collaboration with stylist Isis Vaandrager (who is also a WdKA alumnus) and make-up artist Ed Tijsen. Taming these five queens was quite a challenge, let alone getting them in one image and I am really proud of the result. This photographic series takes place in an old bank building that is a post-war creation. Deep down where the old vault door is located and where the floors, walls and ceilings are covered with luxurious marble, these five young queer performers are as radiant as ever.

"The Family Jewels". Dripping in pastels, diamonds and gold this formation of queer performers is shining effortlessly like modern-day statues. Harmen Meinsma captures Rotterdam fabulous-ness in a marble covered hermitage.

And my most favourite project until now has to be ‘The Last Season’. One exceptional warm weekend at the end of the season, a camp-site in Hoek van Holland became the backdrop for this series. I got inspired by the people who live in trailers and mobile homes. I captured these characters in a photo series where everything looks more colourful than reality. In this series, I pay tribute to the eternal holiday feeling. Three images are now permanently included in the art collection of Hogeschool Rotterdam.

Harmen Meinsma voor De Kracht van Rotterdam 2017 in Hoek van Holland & Haven

Future plans and hopes?

I’d love to shoot more projects for magazines, where the photographers get creative freedom. I am working hard on creating a big portfolio showcasing different people in various settings. For the future, I plan on working on big (commercial) projects and, most importantly, personal projects that will help me reinvent myself. I am also interested in projects abroad, there is so much more to discover and so many different people to photograph! I also really would like to get more into film because I think it can bring a whole new layer to my work.

"The Last Season". Dreaming about Bonaire whilst expensive kitchens are being installed and the atmosphere of a Latin-American ‘tella novella’. No gossip is left unspoken in this small paradise near the beach of Hoek van Holland. Three images are now permanently included in the art collection of Hogeschool Rotterdam.

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