IPA Interviews with Winning Photographers

Interview with

Susanne Middelberg

1st Place in People – Self-Portrait Category 2015

After obtaining a modern dance education at the Higher school for Arts in Arnhem, Susanne graduated in 1998 from the Academy of Visual Arts, from the photography department.

Since then she has worked as a freelance photographer making independent work and freelance work for magazines and theater dance posters.

Susanne specializes in portrait and theater- dance photography.

What kind of photography do you most identify with?

portrait photography and staged photography

Explain your style in 100 words

I believe that vulnerability makes us nicer human beings and that this makes the world a little more friendly and more understanding.

People who show themselves vulnerable give the other the confidence that they themselves may be who they are.

The vulnerability that I see in people I want to show in my photos.

I make portraits in which people can be open and themselves .The people in my pictures can be themselves the way I lsee them.

How did your style change over time?

Now I am looking for more simplicity than in my earlier work. I try to find the essence of what I am searching for without getting lost in less important details.

What photograph left a lasting impression on you and why?

One of the photos that left a lasting impression on me is a portrait from Koos Breukel from his friend and his girlfriend sitting on a couch. The friend of Koos Breukel is blown up by the medications because he is suffering from a brain tumor. I feel that the photo reveals a combination of sadness, hopelessness, and peace of accepting at the same time.

breukel_married_couple
Image by Koos Breukel

When did you discover your passion for photography?

A friend of mine took photo’s of me and we spent hours in his bathroom which he used as a darkroom.

Describe a real-life situation that inspired you?

My portraits deal with my feelings.

There is a story behind the winning self-portrait:

After I became seriously ill, my partner told me that he didn’t know whether he would stay with me. He said that he did not want a sick woman in his life and that he did not want to sacrifice his life for a sick woman.

We had a long loving relationship. I had asked him to give us some time. I had asked him not to give up our love when we had to experience a difficult time for the first time. He said that he would do this.

Two weeks after this conversation he cheated on me with a woman, he had never met before. After that night, he left me.

I cannot describe the pain and disappointment. But I think that you see them in my images.

What jobs have you done other than being a photographer?

I am a dancer

What is your dream project?

Everything I do now

Name 5 photographers who have inspired you

I worship the portraits of Koos Breukel because of the humanity that speaks out of his images, I like Erwin Olaf for his love for details and his perfectionism. I admire Stephan Vanfleteren because he has a lot of talent to find the most characteristic solution for each person in each place. I like the work of Marc Lagrange for his classic and erotic expression.

Jan Saudek was a great inspiration when I was younger. I still like his combination of erotic, sensual fantasy and his almost coarse straightness.

What would you do without photography?

I might paint. Next to that I would do a lot of yoga what I already do.

How do you know when a body of work is finished?

I know.

Is there one photograph of yours that you are very proud of? Why?

I am proud of the self-portrait that won the first price of the IPA, because even though it is a staged portrait it is real and very honest.

What is your most important gadget? Is there something you can’t live without in your studio?

Cardboard

How did you start taking pictures? Why do you take pictures?

I started taking pictures because friends took pictures of me.

I make photos because I like to get close to people, I want to touch people’s beauty and the strength of honesty and vulnerability.

What was your first camera?

An old Zeiss Ikon 6×6 from my great aunt. I still have it.

What camera do you use now and why?

Hasselblad 500cm with a digital back.

What role does the photographer have in society?

Different kinds of photography have different roles. Journalistic photography needs to show reality. All photography is communication. Advertising needs photography. Portrait photography connects us with our own identity.

You can find out more about Susanne here

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