This week we welcome Peter Kool. Born in The Netherlands, based in Belgium, Kool is a member of iN-PUBLiC. He is well known for his witty and surreal style and his uncanny ability to observe and capture the little anomalies of street life. We discuss the issue of déjà-vu’s in street photography, the motives behind his work, and Peter’s take on some of his favourite images.
Hi Peter, thanks for your time. First question, what does street photography mean to you?
I sometimes imagine myself without a camera; I think I would be bored to death. Does that mean that I’m only interested in the world with a camera in my hands; well yes. How did that happen you might think; well it’s photography’s fault. I need it to make me feel good, so photography is a drug actually. On top of that, when I make a good street shot it almost gives me an overdose of satisfaction.
Do you ever not take the camera with you?
I live in a small country village, so when I go out it’s mostly by car and my camera is always with me then. But I don’t take it out to go grocery shopping, when I go to the gym or at the occasional funeral. I also take it with me on the two or three hour biking trips in summer, but seldom come off to take a picture.
And when is a photo a ‘good street shot’ to you?
A good shot has to evoke some kind of emotion; whether it’s wonderment, sadness, happiness, surprise, anger or a combination of these. Of course there are differences in taste; how a certain photo has effect on different people, has to do with how life has moulded your brain I think.
True that. I can imagine that you are aware of the amount of similarities and repetitions in street photography. How do you see your own work in this perspective?
Everything has been photographed, every tune played and every word said; still a small variation in how words or notes are arranged can make a huge difference. So when I would go to Paris one of these days, I will try to have a shot at the Eiffel Tower.
Do you then specifically look for subjects that have been photographed many times, to make your own version of it?
Oh no, I take photos of whatever comes my way, but when I meet a cliché I will not ignore it. I once said I’m avoiding shots with pigeons, but made a few since; so you never know.
You were featured a few times on StreetRepeat, for example in the ‘Headless’ theme or ‘The Yellow Line’. What do you think when you see your work next to similar images?
It’s always a pleasure when one of my photos is featured and in this case also interesting to see how other photographers made their version of the déjà-vu’s.
So how does this déjà-vu work for you, for example in the ‘Shared Head’ theme? Do you see a scene like this because you’ve seen it before in photographs, or do you just see it?
Couldn’t look passed it, but this photo isn’t that important to me; it’s a just a gimmick. It’s the age of gimmicks actually; not that I’m against it, sometimes I see a very good one, but often am bored with it too. But I will also keep making them, probably… I think.
Like the pigeon photos ;)?
And what is your personal favourite image?
This photo with the doll is one of my favourites. I took it Torremolinos, a touristic place in Spain. The doll was probably a left behind of partying people. The two ladies in the picture were French and one of them said in a very dry way: “quelqu’un a oublié sa femme” (someone has forgotten his wife).
And what is your most shared / liked photo?
On Instagram it’s the same one; On Facebook it’s this one:
Last question, in what way would you like to evolve in (street) photography?
I just want to keep taking pictures, but I wish myself a lot of interesting encounters; because that’s my thing really, making a good photo out of these little street anomalies.
You can find the work of Peter Kool here:
© All the pictures in this post are copyrighted. Their reproduction, even in part, is forbidden without the explicit approval of the rightful owners.