Thursday, August 27, 2009

A Conversation with Malou van Breevoort

We first came across the beautiful and mystical portraits by Malou van Breevoort during our first Call for Entries back in April. We're excited to have a chance to interview Malou for this conversation series.

From the series, Thirteen, © Malou van Breevoort

Nymphoto: Tell us a little about yourself?

Malou van Breevoort: I was born in Amsterdam, the Netherlands in the early days of 1974 from a Dutch mother and Romanian father. My parents were quite young and hippy-esk, got married to get my father out of a very communistic dictatorship Romania but soon after divorced when it didn't work out. My mother remarried not soon after. My step dad's work in the hotel industry required moving a lot through Europe to pretty much a different country each year. I guess together with my childhood memories of Romania and all the new impressions of other surroundings and cultures, I formed my love for traveling and wanting to tell the world about the way I saw social political problems and how to shine a different light on it. I was interested in telling a story via something artistic but at the time not knowing how to express myself properly. Photography was not at all in the making at that time but I wrote many stories and loved to draw and be on stage whether it was dancing, singing or acting as long as I could show and express to people my thoughts.

From the series, Thirteen, © Malou van Breevoort

NP: How did you discover photography?

: It was a long journey before I found out photography was a tool to help translate emotional images. I never thought there were family genetics involved when it came to photography however I only just found out that my Romanian grandfather was very passionate about taking pictures of pretty much everything on an old Leica! I guess together with my grandmother's love for drawing and seeing details in the smallest things, it's not that difficult to see the connection.

My journey started after the necessary educational needs. I left Holland at the age of 20 to travel and live in South-East Asia for nearly four years. During this time I discovered the beauty of photography. I realized I could translate my thoughts and sights very well in still images. It was also a fantastic way to not always be grounded in reality. Through a distinctive composition or playing with light, I could create a more imaginative world where the viewer could slip away to. When I finally returned to Holland, the choice was finally clear. I was accepted at the Academy of Photography in Amsterdam where I studied the art of photography for four years. This was a very successful period since I won several awards in various competitions and also was able to have exhibitions in both Holland and abroad, which made me realize I had made the right choice in choosing photography as my profession.

From the series, Thirteen, © Malou van Breevoort

NP: Where do you find inspiration?

MvB: My inspiration is found pretty much everywhere, in everyday life, an image, good food, great wine, a party, a kiss, also in moments, through media, film, books, music and of course traveling. I always carry a little black book wherever I go and if something catches my attention, which can be found in smallest of things, I write it down to check on at a later stage whether it can be transformed into an artistic photographic series, preferably one with an edge and message. This process can take a while, once the images are clear in my head, the follow up is like a rollercoaster.

From the series, Dreams, © Malou van Breevoort

NP: How do your projects come about?

MvB: My series 'Thirteen' was shot at the beginning of last year but the process of how the series came about was way beforehand. It was a combination of the news and media frenzy concerning the troubles of Britney Spears and the way Paris Hilton showed herself to the world. This was the age which teenagers are starting to experiment with sex (very young). Drug regulations in Holland and the overall popular culture on TV abuse made me think of creating a subtle series about young adolescent who are too quickly getting to be or act as adults when they are still kids.

The series shows (as the title says) 4 girls at the age of thirteen, altered in post-production to portray a more mature person. The noses and mouth are made a bit smaller, the eyes a bit bigger and the form of the shoulders and head are altered a bit, all this together gives you eerie looking portraits which in a subtle way gives a lash at how teens these days are being exposed to too many adult things and their reaction to that.

From the series, Dreams, © Malou van Breevoort

'Dreams' was created through a one liner given by the people of Timu Kota, a young organization who help young people in Third World countries. The project involved creating a book in participation with 7 Dutch photographers, each given a special theme and 5 high positioned individuals (government, CEO of big companies, entertainers, etc) who would participate in the shooting and have an interview (to talk about their dreams on how they see the world a better place) on that particular theme. My theme was 'banish hunger and poverty' and the idea was to shoot everybody up close with dark with soft lighting (similar to the Johannes Vermeer's paintings). Afterwards I worked in post-production to create a face which was half healthy and half sick. I wanted this to be done very subtle so in small jpeg you won't see anything strange but blown up it's a total different story. This to enhance the effect on viewers.

From the series, Dreams, © Malou van Breevoort

NP: What’s next?

MvB: As we speak I'm finishing up my series of 'Natural Elements'. Where Thirteen and Dreams are both quite the political 'bash', the series, 'Natural Elements' is a total different approach on how I would like to present series.

This is your typical dreamworld creation which I love to make but don't often do because there is no story behind my love for balletdancers and their body/muscle power in combination with the earthy deep dark forest. These two combined require special lighting and makes it a beautiful series which a viewer can step into to dream.

Furthermore I am working on a duo exhibition which will open end of September beginning of October in Koeln, Germany with another German based photographer named Valerie Schmidt. The overall look will be portraits of all sorts. Ten to fifteen photographs from past and current work of mine will be on display during a period of one month. The gallery is called Koeln-Art & Kreon Vektron Showroom and is situated on the Bruhler Strasse 11-13 in Koeln, Germany.

From the series, Natural Elements, © Malou van Breevoort

NP: Thank you, Malou! To see more of her work, please head to

1 comment:

Silk&Memento said...

Even though the photos are sort of similar, they say something totally different each. Great interview.