10 minutes with Frieke Janssens
When did you first know that you wanted to be a photographer?
Photography sounds, as it does to many people, attractive. After starting with evening classes in photography at the age of fifteen, I was so excited about it that my mom was tired of hearing about it, I think. I skipped the pilot or police on a horse option. Photography was my future.
Who were some of the first photographers that inspired you and are there any photographers whose work you admire that you have found recently?
From the very beginning I was inspired by August Sander. I like how he photographed People of the Twentieth Century. It’s static and descriptive, but still with emotion and different expressions. More recently, the work of Gregory Crewdson. He works with a big crew, just like a movie crew. The pictures become almost a movie, with a touch of surreality and a big eye for detail. What I like.
Can you tell me about your project, Smoking Kids? I know it was a personal project; what gave you the idea and how did you find the models and set up the shoots?
It start with something I think of: “I have to remember this, it could be something interesting.” For example: I saw a Jazz LP before I started the series, the cover showed a black trumpeter surrounded by smoke. I thought the smoke gave so much atmosphere, some soft layer that brings the picture together. After many rough ideas, I start to construct an image in my mind, from my imagination. This stage can take long, because the pictures are already in an advanced stage in my head before I start creating them for real. You could call this the ‘imaginary recreation method’
There were several ideas like the LP cover, but a YouTube video of a chain smoking toddler gave the final decision to start the series, because this gave me the total meaning to start this series.
I found the models from casting agencies, through friends, a call on facebook and chilldren that I had previously photographed for campaigns. I had kept those children in mind for future personal projects.
If you could go back ten years and give yourself advice, what would it be?
Of course there are things that I should done one a different way. But I don’t regret anything. And interesting things came out of the imperfect.
Any words of wisdom for the up and comers?
If you want the be a photographer or director you have to go for it 200%. It’s hard work and sometimes not nice, but lot’s of time it’s great. I think you really have to love it to go for 200%.
(Frieke is based in Brussels, see more of his work, here)