2004, May 15 · Identity and Reflexivity

When I am walking around I always try to anticipate on what I might shoot. It takes a lot of concentration and a lot of patience. Two things I used to hate and now love. In fact, I had no choice but to start loving concentration and patience because as a photographer I deal in things which are continually vanishing and when they have vanished there is nothing on earth that can make them come back again. It means that I have to think about the photo before and after, never during. I can't move too fast and the subject has to forget about me. Then in that moment, however I have to be very quick. That is, in my book, all about concentration and patience. I take pictures because in one way or another I lack the vocabulary to express what I see and feel. Still every once in a while I soothe my mind with the fact that a famous photographer once said: a true photograph need not be explained, nor can it be contained in words. I soothe my mind because I know that words are needed and I know that every memory of each photo taken is flowing at the same speed as the event. That is why during my shooting, I want to capture everything, not just with my camera but also with my pen.

I arrived here in Chicago about seven months ago. Back then I was interested and fascinated by the street and the city in general because obviously a whole new world was opening up for me. Looking back now I realize that the fascination and the interest in the city didn't grow from the impressive buildings or structures that mark the downtown area but grew from the immense amount of people that live in such a small piece of steel and concrete. It was the liveliness and the mix of cultures and how those cultures were intertwined with each other that fascinated me. Growing up back in Belgium in the countryside, surrounded by green and small houses, small roads, small cars, I never thought that in the end I would like the city so much.

Through this assignment I think I began to see the importance of writing your memories, encounters, thoughts and feelings down. It made me, as an ethnographer and photographer see more clearly.