Alexis Szyd. 9:21pm, 30 July 2017
Being eager to promote the sensitivity of the photographer and understand photographic universe, "Through the Eyes of" was created. 

Ding Ren, photographer based in Amsterdam (The Netherlands), explains us her vision of analogue photographic work.

Thank you Ding for the contribution to the group, much appreciated.

First of all, What incited you to take photographs (event, desire to express himself,in response to something,...)?

My grade school offered a black and white darkroom photography class when I was 13.  I didn't know anything about photography then, but my father had a Nikon SLR that I could use and I needed to take an extra art class, so I signed up.  My first ever photo that I processed and printed in the darkroom was a set of swing chains at a playground.  It was a rather minimal photo.  I remember being shocked that the teacher liked it enough to put it in the school's art show.  Now the photo still hangs in my parent's home.  From that first photography class onwards, I knew that I needed to have photography in my life at all times.  I was charmed first by the various processes: the action of holding the camera, framing the shot, deciding the subject matter, developing the film, printing in the darkroom.  Looking back, I realize now that I was drawn to photography and the process because it provided me with a place to escape to.  Whether that was the physical darkroom or a visual world distilled into simple forms, all these elements came together as a way to filter out confusing realities.

What brings film photography and 35mm film format to you ; in interpretation of your shots? Why to choose the film?

I began with analogue processes so in that sense, film photography has always been my "home."  The slowness, the certain mysteries, and the preciousness of working with film all gives me a familiar sense of calm.  I like to hold onto that fact.  It must be because I have physically moved around a lot as a child and now as an adult.  I was born in China, grew up in the United States, and am now living in the Netherlands.  I have also lived in various places in all 3 of these countries so it is difficult for me to pinpoint a specific space in my mind that I would call home. Therefore, I've turned to photography to fill this space.  Recently more "analogue" practices such as knitting and sewing have been welcomed into my life as well for similar reasons and I wonder why it took me so long to discover these crafts!

Your photographic work takes advantage of textures, light, reflection and subtle details encountered along the way. Can you explain what you want to emphasize through your photographic work?

I am naturally drawn to delicate urban details because I am constantly searching--trying to find the familiar within the foreign and foreign within the familiar.  I attribute this to my dual identity as Chinese American and cross-cultural experience of living abroad.  I want to emphasize these small, ephemeral moments and details because the human condition itself is such a delicate and fleeting entity.  I want my photographs to be a daily reminder of that.

My photographs are also about being present, being in the moment, being a part of a quotidian in a fluid way.  I have my camera with me at all times and I try to get outdoors for a walk or bike ride almost every day.  Being in the Netherlands, the cold and gray days are not always conducive to this, but I need to breathe fresh air and see trees everyday to feel whole.  The flipside to this is I also like city life, to be able to have access to little shops and see different characters cycling by each day is important to my creative process as well.  Finding quiet spots within a city is my ideal and my photographs of delicate details are a manifestation of this need.

What would be the value or the passing message that you would like to carry through all this?
Do you have something to share with us as an anecdote, advice, information, ...

There is a Chinese proverb that translates to, "There will be a way when you come to the foot of a mountain" and I have that written on a little scrap of paper that I keep with me at all times.

Among your pictures, what photograph you keep deep within you?

I like to approach my photography in an intuitive way, so place/space is very much a deciding factor in what direction the work takes. For example, my first years living in the Netherlands, I was very affected by the flatness of the entire country, I needed to see mountains, or even hills, so I found myself documenting shapes, lines, structures, and smaller details that could allude to the shape of mountains.  I title this project "Topographic Mindset”, and it is definitely a point when my photography shifted, so this series is something that I consider to be poignant.

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diffuse by Ding Ren

triangle shard by Ding Ren

For more photographs of Ding Ren and to dive into her photographic analogue world :
/// or /// Ding's Website /// or /// Instagram (knitter+photo prof.)

Ding is a member of The White Light Collective

Many thanks to you Ding for answering these questions, and thank to all of you for reading.
bior 1 year ago
Thank you for another great interview, and bringing to my attention another great photographer with a unique, refreshing perspective.
Ding Ren 1 year ago
Thank you for your support of my photography Alexis!
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