Arlequin Photography was originally created as a two-people school project under the name “VKPhotographyNL” in mid-2009, but after graduation and departure of my partner I made the decision in 2017 to change the name to something personal for me, which was Arlequin Photography.
Dir en grey’s OBSCURE & PIERROT
I was first introduced to Japanese music through a single music video on the” TMF Rockt”, a program aired on the TMF music channel once a week for an hour or so, featuring songs from the rock- and metal genres opposed to the regular programming you’d see normally. Obviously, as someone who has always had been drawn to the “hard & heavy” section of whichever music store I’d visit, I was a weekly viewer. Of all possible songs they could have shown, it was “OBSCURE” by Dir en grey. At that time I was so fascinated by what I could see on screen that I couldn’t remember the title of the song nor the artist who created it, which resulted in all of my dial-up internet time being dedicated to finding it again. At that time there was no YouTube or anything, so searching wasn’t as easy as it is today.
During my search I obviously found a lot of other songs and artists, among which PIERROT who caught my interest with their music in the same way Dir en grey had done. So much, that the “Arlequin” in Arlequin Photography actually is a reference to the original name of the band’s fan club: Arlequin. (It got changed to “FOLLOWERS” later.)
Art, design & physical copies vs. digital downloads
If there’s something I enjoy it’s art. Especially the creative artwork that goes into a CD booklet or a music video. Something I can’t find when I download music digitally. Even today I am not a fan of iTunes, Spotify or any other streaming service on the go. Nothing makes me happier than opening a package and being able to pull a physical copy from a CD out of there. Admittedly, this desire got way out of hand over the years and I can almost start my own music store by now…
When I was still in school I had my laptop in front of me pretty much all the time, and I would occasionally bring a CD or two to listen to during my free time. One of my teachers quickly caught on to this habit and used it as an icebreaker-topic to actually talk to me. (I’m rather shy, so I didn’t say much in class either.) He quickly learned that from a creative standpoint he was a big fan, but from a music-appreciation standpoint he couldn’t be more horrified (remember I said I have a preference for the hard & heavy section?). During one of these conversations he jokingly suggested I should ask one of them about their outfits and how they effect their daily lives…
Photography & school
At first I was very reluctant about the idea of doing an interview with an artist, mostly because of my shy nature. But the teacher in question turned it into a custom school project, so if I wanted to get a grade to be able to advance to the next year, I had to agree to it. And so I did. At that time ダウト (D=OUT) were on their way to The Netherlands to promote their CARNIVAL浮世 (CARNIVAL UKIYO) album, and my teacher actually arranged this -admittedly super awkward- interview for me. ダウト (D=OUT)’s management was completely okay with the idea, but only if I added photography to my list of activities.
The members themselves really enjoyed answering the odd questions and were more than happy to wish me luck with the school project, but for me it was pretty scary. Not only because I am shy, but also because my eyesight isn’t optimal (at that time I couldn’t see anything through a camera lens, nowadays it’s more 50/50 depending on a day to day basis).
Dutch vs. English & partner
At the time this project started one of my classmates was asked to team up with me for the duration of the project. At first he really seemed to like the idea and was happy to join, but throughout the years he seemed less and less interested until we eventually graduated and he just turned and left without a word, leaving me behind with literally nothing but the data we had created over the years, putting the entire project to a complete halt until I organized everything.
At the very start of the project it was decided to make everything in English, due to him growing up in South Africa and having severe spelling issues with Dutch, and English is a more prominent language worldwide, so a bigger audience could be reached. I continued this trend until 2018, when I finally decided that I also wanted to provide more to my local audience, and thus the Dutch language was added to the website.
AVO J-Rock Festival
After my partner just got up and left without a word, I had no idea what to do. For a long time he was a close friend, and I didn’t know where to start with the project without him. So when I heard about AVO Magazine (then still called AVO Blog) organizing “AVO J-Rock Festival”, a festival with three artists (Gothika, ADAMS and VANIRU) to celebrate ten years of AVO Forum. During that time I didn’t know if I should respond to this or not because I had not done anything in quite some time, but I eventually figured I had to start somewhere and I reached out, only to end up at Tivoli de Helling all by myself with a new camera in my hands.
By the time VANIRU ended their set and the festival was over, I actually felt a lot better. I had three sets of photos to call mine and mine alone, and I didn’t have to keep someone else happy next to me either.
I’m now completely used to the idea of working alone, and even though I am always searching to find my own style, I’m happy as I go along. Occasionally I pick up other things than interviews and photography as well (like reviews of a CD for example), but it’s not my main priority still.
Originally my partner had the idea to turn VKPhotographyNL into a physical magazine, but at this time I have no ambition to continue this route yet. Maybe it will happen in the future!
Guest writers & partnerships
While I am a one-person project who is used to working alone, I am more than willing to share my space with someone who would like to do a one-off mini-project of their own. So if you would like to do something creative and you think it fits in with me, then please don’t hesitate to contact me.
In my free time I help out others as well, and I am more than happy to translate documents (between Dutch and English preferably) occasionally as well.