Projects

Bastiaan Woudt on how fatherhood was inspiration for a career in portraiture

All images © Bastiaan Woudt, courtesy of the artist

Despite being interested in photography from an early age, it was only when Bastiaan Woudt had his first child in 2009 that he picked up a camera and took the first steps towards forging what is now his signature style.

Initially capturing close friends and family, Woudt’s practice has evolved into an experimental meditation on the genres of portraiture, still life and landscape that has propelled him into a successful career, consisting of self-initiated personal projects pursued alongside editorial and fashion commissions.

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Although he is drawn by the relationship between subject and photographer, Woudt’s approach is founded on the belief that you cannot truly represent the person in front of the lens.

Instead, it is his own artistic vision that lies at the centre of each portrait he takes, moving this encounter into a more abstract realm.

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“I want to show how I see the people in front of my lens,” he comments. “Besides documenting a person’s face or body I want to make every portrait into something more, with an extra dimension to it.”

In this vein, the photographer has developed an interest in technical processes, progressing from the pictorial style he investigated at the beginning of his practice into a more experimental zone.

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Balancing a polished classicism with a more contemporary exploration of post-production techniques, the fruits of his labour transform the human form into highly stylised abstractions.

His images are precise, rendered with a high contrast and meticulous focus on detail, accentuated by a monochrome approach that allows him to exact control over his work.

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“My palette only consists of black, grey and white. With the perfect combination of those three I feel I can tell more in a photograph than with all the colours in the world,” he says.

Woudt’s distinct vision has become his calling card, recently attracting the interest of the Amsterdam-based Kahmann Gallery, which now represents him, and of curator and writer Erik Vroons, editor of GUP magazine, who nominated the young photographer for this issue.

It was the adept interplay between “classic” and “idiosyncratic” aesthetic elements that first drew Vroons to Woudt’s work.

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“His artistic interference can be defined as ‘pictorial’ but Bastiaan presents a very mature balance in his (post-) production techniques, which means that his work might lean towards the outskirts of what we can recognise as ‘photographic’ but never crosses the line,” Vroons explains.

In addition to organising shoots all year round, Woudt is currently working on a long-term personal project called Project 87.

Fascinated by his childhood expectations of feeling like a grown-up by the age of 29, he has set out to photograph 87 people who, like him, were born in 1987.

See more of Bastiaan’s work here.