It feels like I always had some kind of love/hate relationship with photography.
My father was an avid amateur photographer and he documented our family’s life. I adored the evenings when I knew he was going to make portraits. We had to dress up while my father set up his 500 Watt lamps. They got extremely hot and emitted a faint but distinct odour.
I was still a kid back then but I still feel the anticipation and the excitement. The family portraits he made with black and white film but everything else was shot on slide film.
The evenings when my father showed us new slides were simply magical. The buzzing of the projector, the dust particles dancing in the light beam, the noise the machine made when a slide was thrown out and a new one ingested. We had no television but those shows made more than up for it.
My father died when I was 13 and after that my life was not documented any more. I still have all the slides he made. It is a wonderful testament of a happy time.
I guess it was only normal I graduated from photography art school shortly before the seventies ended.
For a while I worked in a colour lab where I made enlargements for professional photographers by hand. I liked it but I was not my idea for a career.
I soon discovered I was not very good with people and even less with a lot of them like you find on a marriage. I did a few but I hated doing it.
I was not good enough to make a living as an art photographer either. Not only did I lack maturity, I was struggling with myself and had not digested the loss of my father yet.
Starting my own business wasn’t an option either. In the mid eighties I reoriented myself and got a degree in IT. I had found my path and photography became just a tool for documenting my life but I was not as driven as my father.
Photography had become a lost dream, the fantasy had gone and I was confronted with the bare essentials: I was not good at it.
I got married in 1990 and a couple of years later I was a father myself. And as my father had done decades before I documented our life.
Things did not go well though and shortly after I suffered from a burn-out depression. My life came to a halt and it took about 9 months before I felt kind of okay again. I was not the same man any more and I guess it was the beginning of an ending that may have even started years before when I solemnly said Yes.
During that period I often went out photographing. I did not make any images though. It was more about walking, being alone. Unfortunately on one of these walks my car was broken open and all my gear, safely tucked away in the car trunk, was gone. Lenses, filters and my dear Nikon F2 I worked for so many weekends during school. I was devastated and heart broken.
I did not make a single photograph for the 3 or so years that followed. In 2000 my second daughter was on her way.
Something new was hitting the shop shelves too and it was just what I needed. In February 2000 I bought an expensive 2.2 MP Camedia C-21 digital camera and I was awed. As a photographer I had found a new breath.
Depression kept lurking around the corner though and even the joy of having kids, having a great and good job made no difference.
Later on having my camera with me all the time made my Ex sour and now I know the end had really begun.
I still documented my daughter’s lives but I felt I needed to use photography in a creative way too but for some reason it didn’t hatch.
In August 2006 we all went for a short holiday to the coasts of Normandy where I started rather timidly making landscape s.
We all knew it was over though and it was our last vacation as a family and for the kids sake we tried to make the best of it. I like to believe we somehow succeeded in doing just that.
On December 1st 2006 I left home for work and with me I took the few last belongings I hadn’t moved yet.
That evening, after work, I drove back to this place that was supposed to be a new home.
It was all but that. Almost empty and cold and there was nobody to welcome me.
It was a fresh start though yet the first few months were hard. Little did I know my life would change dramatically and for the better.
To be continued…