Born @ WdKA


Nana van Dijk & Michèle van Vliet
Wed 17 May
Function Photographers, curators, exhibition designers
Year 2013
Major Photography

Nana van Dijk & Michèle van Vliet

Together we are THE PHOTO GRADUATES — an online and offline platform for young photography talents.

Are you inspired by the same thing? / Two peas in a pod or completely different?

From the start we’ve had the same motivation for working together: we wanted to show beautiful and inspirational work and build exhibitions that we’d want to visit ourselves. We thought it was remarkable how much our tastes were alike and how often we are on the same page – we always use this as our guidance. On the other hand: we are very different in the way we work and in what tasks we prefer doing. This actually makes us better as a team: we are almost never in each others way and we completely trust each other’s taste and choices.

What is your favorite WdKA memory?

During graduation we supported each other a lot, living through stress, failing printers and all the waiting. But once we were graduated and relieved, we had to build our graduation show in an empty building in the center of Rotterdam and that was the best (Michèle taught Nana how to use a concrete drill, for instance). It was actually the first time we have worked on an exhibition together, now we think about it.

How did your collaboration start?

Strangely enough we became friends only during graduation but after that we kept on seeing each other every now and then. When we have got an opportunity to make an exhibition together, we saw a bright future ahead for what became our concept - providing graduates with a platform to showcase their work. That’s how THE PHOTO GRADUATES was born (and that’s also how we became post-graduate-BFF’s, ha).

How did your collaboration become a success? Was it a long way full of hardships or did it ‘just happen’?

Since we’ve started our platform with zero experience, the process involved a lot of hard work and a lot of learning. We suddenly needed to gain skills to build the right network, organize crowdfunding and apply for funds, design and build the exhibition – and we had to do this next to our full time jobs. Thankfully, creative entrepreneur Bob Smit shared a lot of knowledge with us in the beginning, that really kick started it all. After every event we organised or visited we learned more about what we wanted to be, who we wanted to collaborate with and how we could improve.

Are you pioneers?

We think that you are a pioneer if you are doing something new or if you are trying to reinvent something that does not work anymore. So yes, we are. Our whole generation is.

What is the future of your profession in your opinion?

Photography is part of everything and is very reachable at the same time, especially in the digital era. But we still think that if you are hardworking, original, creative and have a good eye for the market you want to be a part of, the future, sure, is bright. We are focused on Rotterdam in particular and there are a lot of possibilities in this city.

You never leave your house without…?

NANA: phone, notebook.

MICHÈLE: earphones, Spotify and my keys, or at least I try to.

Any words of advice to future students?

Try to connect the autonomous practice with business (this doesn’t mean that you’ll have to lose your identity).

Name your favourite recent project.

Even though it’s still kinda secret, we can’t wait to launch our new website. We’ve been working on that a lot recently and it’s already our favourite.

Nana and Michèle are also active as photographers/image editors.