Woman Crush Wednesday: Marjolein van der Klaauw
Marjolein van der Klaauw is a photographer based in Berlin. Her work represents a visual diary of everyday life and all its truth. She captures the happiest of people in their most relaxed states. Her use of color, sunshine, and location truly do justice to all the good things about life we so easily forget about. The images represented are from her series "My body, your body, everybody." See more of her work here.
Interview by Hallie Neely
You're a self-taught photographer with a background in cultural studies. Being an artist myself, I love self-taught photographers, especially when they're successful. Can you talk a bit about the moment you realized this is your career, and this is what you can continue to do for the rest of your life?
I've been traveling a lot and I realised during these trips that the thing I love doing the most was capturing the people and their culture of the countries that I was visiting. At first I didn't have a camera, so I had to borrow my sister's, but as soon as I got my own I started shooting, experimenting, editing, playing, in Amsterdam and abroad. When I started looking for Photography Schools (because I thought that was what it took to actually become a professional photographer) I realised how badly I wanted to make a career out of photography. But I ended up studying Visual Anthropology, another keen interest of mine. I took the final pivotal step towards becoming a professional self-taught photographer in Australia, after I got in touch with analog photography. When people started showing interest in my work and asked me to work with them, I realized this could actually make a living with my 'dream' job.
The way you talk about your work is so sweet, "With my little analog camera in tow and my happy eyes, I capture people enjoying the good life. With my interest in cultures and people, I treat the world as my playground." Your work illustrates an easy-going lifestyle of people from all over the world, and it makes total sense that you have such a light hearted personality behind the camera. Are your subjects people you just pass on the street, or are they people you spend time with?
The people I shoot during my trips are mostly people I encounter on the street, however I always try to talk a bit with them (if possible). When I don't speak their language I use body language to communicate with my subjects. A smile can often be enough to break the ice, especially with elderly people who often don't speak English. :)
Your commissioned work has your personality all over it, just in a more stylized tone. If you had to decide between making only commissioned work or only independent work, which do you think you would choose?
Thanks for the kind words. It's difficult to say. The thing I obviously aim for is getting my independent work into some kind of commissioned work. That companies would ask me to capture the culture and people of a particular country with my signature, creating awareness for these locals. Whether that is for a fashion shoot for Nike, a documentary for National Geographic or a project for a magazine. The bigger the awareness for each others cultures, the better.
"My body, your body, everybody" is my favorite project of yours because of the colors, the people, the happiness, and the location. I know you said in another interview that you'd want to continue this project - would you travel to various beaches around the world, or go more in depth with the people you've met during the making of this project?
Good question. I will go to more beaches all over the world to, on the one hand, show the uniqueness of all the people in their bathing suits and, on the other hand, to show the variety in cultures and habits of beach culture.
What was the most inspiring place you've traveled to, or the one place you dream of traveling to most?
The most inspiring place I've traveled to must have been Australia. Discovering a culture on the other side of the world that has so many similarities with the culture that I grew up in, yet is so vastly different, surprised me (to my own surprise). I was flabbergasted every day, realising 24 hours away flying from my home, there are people who look Western, but have a totally different mindset and lifestyle for that matter. That was an eye-opener and it's a great place for photography. I'd love to go there again and shoot more people and places in Australia.
The place I dream of traveling to the most is Jamaica. During my travels I fell in love with the Reggae culture. The music, the people, their lifestyle, Rastafari. I love it and so does my camera ;) In the places I lived the last couple of years (Melbourne, London, Amsterdam and Berlin) and traveled I've found some great Reggae culture, but I guess the real culture is in the motherland Jamaica. So that is where I'd love to go and capture it.
Describe your creative process in one word.
If you could teach a one, one-hour class on anything, what would it be?
How to connect in order to capture your subject's authentic self.
What is the last book you read or film you saw that inspired you?
Abstract Series from Netflix. Especially the one of Tinker Hatfield, but actually all of them.
What is the most played song in your music library?
Probably Buffalo Soldier by the one and only Bob Marley.
How do you take your coffee?
Since two weeks Doppio Machiatto.