Jouk Oosterhof

“We were neighbours; one day he came up to my apartment to grumble about my music. While he was disturbed, his face did not convey this. This stoic exterior fascinated me and I began photographing him.”

Dear Jouk, first of all thank you for agreeing to this interview and welcome to Māgoa. It’s our great pleasure to present your talent to all our online readers.

What first sparked your interest in photography and are there any photographers who have particularly influenced your early (as well as later) work?

I have never had that clear moment of, “I want to be a photographer!” Or that romantic story of a young kid that was interested in images before being able to walk… I just think I have always been a more visual, intuitive and sensitive person. More focused on feeling, looking and doing. When I tried to get into art school (Photography course), is when I motivated myself to make something of it.

Tim den Besten for Volkskrant magazine

I do not look at photography as much as schools are trying to make their students look at photography. I believe you can find your inspiration in all kinds of things. William Morris, and paintings of the magic surrealistic artists and many more have been important for me in the past, whereas nowadays I like videoclips like Bad Girls from M.I.A. or Baby’s on Fire by Die Antwoord. Also designers, interiors, and painters or my muse for example always give me ideas.

Muse André

Muse André

You came to our attention with your beautiful series of photographs of your neighbour and muse André. What inspired you to start working with him?

It was André’s facial expression that first attracted me to him. He is friendly yet taciturn, and his emotions can be hard to read. We were neighbours; one day he came up to my apartment to grumble about my music. While he was disturbed, his face did not convey this. This stoic exterior fascinated me and I began photographing him.

Muse André

Muse André

Do you remember the first ever photograph of André you took and what was the reason behind it?

It started with a fashion story for a Dutch newspaper supplement called AD magazine. My first photos of André were polaroid, sketches for this shoot. We then photographed the story on film, showcasing his hobbies and wearing designer fashion pieces that suited his style and could be mistaken for other, simpler brands. The look of an outfit changes, when you change the person wearing it.

Toby Paul for Moam

How does your creative partnership look like? How has this series evolved during the past 15 years?

The beginning of a relationship grew slowly, but solidly. When I wanted to make a personal image for my 10th anniversary as a professional photographer, it was André who inspired me. Slowly I started realising his importance. The following year, when I was assigned to do whatever, I wanted to do it for Playboy magazine, because I knew adding him to this image of a naked woman would inspire me again.

Woman with vaginismus for Linda

The choice of women’s clothing was made with subtleness in mind, to feel natural and relate to André’s age and character. Without cross-dressing him with an excessive feminine characterisation. No wigs or make-up, understated, simple as he is a heterosexual man, who does not wear organza or blouses. Rather, I was thinking of him as porcelain-like. All these ideas came to my mind when I thought of him. I realised that is what a muse does. When I told him that I call him my muse, he did not agree. He would say he is not a muse; only pretty girls are muses. But I think he understands it now. And it makes him smile.

No CPR please!!! For Linda

What does this series mean to you?

This collection of photographs plots the evolution of a muse. Through the ageing of us both in these 15 years and the diversity of scenarios, it shows André’s loyalty and trust, it reflects me, and it reflects a fascination with one natural man. He became my friend as well and we have game-nights together, with his group of friends.

Muse André

You have been shooting fashion editorials, commercial projects and portraits for the past 15 years. What experience has affected you most during this period and how does that resonate in your work today?

After the transformation from analogue photography to digital photography, as well as the economic crisis and the fact that I had two kids, a lot has changed for me. I entered a stage of un-satisfaction in work and it made me reconsider what I was doing it for. This made me more aware of what I wanted to make and a new approach with much more personal work started.

Lernert&Sander for Shot

How did you develop your distinctive visual language, the “sublimated reality”, which we see in your work today? What influences you the most?

I try to stay close, true to myself as much as possible and I try to make images that I didn’t see before, that come from me and the team I work with. Also the locations and models we choose influence the process.

Lara Verheijden 

Lara Verheijden 

What is one project you are most proud or particularly excited about?

I am very proud of the Child Brides. Especially because of the importance of the subject. And how wonderful it got picked up. The series has a beautiful spot in the National Portrait Gallery of London until February 2020. My Muse was exhibited there before, 4 years ago.

Child brides for Linda

Child brides for Linda

Do you have anything particular you like to focus on when you’re taking a photo?

Not to be influenced too much by standards.

Child brides for Linda

Child brides for Linda

What’s the best thing someone has said about your work?

I keep forgetting all the words of good things people say, but I remember the feeling.

Lauren Raaijmakers for NicOtiNe

Lauren Raaijmakers for NicOtiNe

What would you like to see more of in the photography world?

Pfff, more budget, more freedom. Don’t we all want that in every job.

Timo Sassen for Fucking Young!

What’s next for you? Do you maybe have any upcoming projects you would like to share with us?

I am working on one visual for the KesselsKramer Outlet pop-up Gallery in the London Vans store.

Lara Verheijden

Jouk, thank you very much for your time and answers. The best of luck with your career and upcoming projects.

CREDITS:
All styling by Analik except for Child brides and Lernert&Sander
Hair&Make-up: Patricia van Heumen, Cynthia Schippers, Magdalena Loza and Marsha Calori

 

Visit Jouk’s website and Instagram.