Dennis Duijnhouwer on the Road
The photographic diary of Dennis Duijnhouwer
“Searching for a subject to shoot, is like trying to catch a butterfly”
When Dutch photographer Dennis Duijnhouwer (1976) returned after spending five ‘lost’ years in Hollywood, most of his friends didn’t believe the bizarre adventures he had been through. From that moment on, he decided to capture everything; his life as a photographic dairy. Taking pictures became an obsession.
After the success of his first published book The Road to Rabat – which he shot while traveling along with the young filmmakers of Habbekrats – Dennis is more in the picture than ever. Not only for the crew & cast, but also for his photography, it was a journey. Because of his style of raw analogue snapshots of mostly youth, people compare him with names like Terry Richardson, Nan Goldin or Ryan McGinley. But I wonder, isn’t this comparison too easy to make and the line more refined?
You are a photographer with your own method. How did that influence the way you took on-set photographs of Rabat?
When Jim & Victor of Habbekrats asked me to come along to Morocco for a month I felt I just had to do it. I had never done any long term projects for which people are expected to ‘give up there lives’. I really trusted them, they are guys that are ‘fans’, in that they always want to see people deliver good work.
I started to take pictures of the set, but I wasn’t used to the waiting and the posing of the actors for the camera. It was not the way I am used to take pictures. After one week of shooting a maximum of
2 rolls per day I felt very confused. Could I live up to their expectations? What did I shoot? I took a picture of the tree where I had withdrawn myself. That was a turning point for me. From that moment on I decided to take a different turn. I took pictures of the hotel rooms. While waiting, I took a walk around the block. Because the guys trusted me, I could follow my intuition and it paid off!
How was it to edit your first book?
Everything in the book is in chronological order. It was quite some work to edit it, because I didn’t keep every film in order. 66 rolls in total and I developed five at a time in random order. Victor criticized me a bit for that, haha. It was different to edit all the pictures in one book, where the importance of the story is cut out above the individual images. My style is also developing that way: less externals more content.
Did you have to kill many darlings?
Yes, sometimes a favorite had to be cut for one that told the story better. I’ve put the ‘killed darlings’ on my blog. Victor had made his selection and I had made mine. It was a great learning process for me to listen to his explanation and argumentation. I liked that we could be very open about it.
So, your style had changed to more story-based series in this period?
From 2003 on I was obsessed with one fixed style. I shot with only two camera’s – Yashica & Contax 92 – using the same 35mm lens and film rolls – Kodak Portra 400. I always shoot analogue. It's a style I love, not a nostalgia thing. I take pictures of things that happen NOW, how can that be nostalgic? So the subjects change as I’m getting older, but the whole oeuvre is cohesive. When I started out I was the only one, so I created my own stage where I can be the best. I don’t have any ambition to be innovative; my works have to be original and honest.
Read the full interview on No New Enemies.
by VANYA PIETERS