I like to talk about personal projects. A story can be told in different ways; we can discuss those possibilities. The photographic process can often be very lonely — we all face the same challenges. Let’s dare to openly speak about your doubts and difficulties. Let’s discuss the many ways to fully engage with the people we work with and photograph. How do we pay attention to how we project our ideas on our 'subjects'? Let’s find ways to encourage the story to gradually unfold in front of us with respect to our protagonists. I like to do this in a conversation where we both share our experiences.
About your mentor
Bieke Depoorter (°1986, Belgium) received a master’s degree in photography at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Ghent in 2009. Three years later, when just 25 years old, she was made a nominee of Magnum Photos, of which she was named a full member in 2016. Depoorter has won several awards and honors, including the Magnum Expression Award, The Larry Sultan award and the Prix Levallois. She has published four books: Ou Menya, I am About to Call it a Day, As it May Be, and Sète#15. She worked together with Aperture, Editions Xavier Barral, Edition Patrick Frey, Lannoo, Hannibal and Le bec en l’air to publish these books.
The relationships Depoorter establishes with the subjects of her photographs lie at the foundation of her artistic practice. Accidental encounters are the starting point, and how these interactions naturally develop dictates the nature of Depoorter’s work. But several recent projects have been the result of Depoorter questioning the medium. In As it May Be, she gradually became more aware of her status as an outsider, both culturally and as a photographer. So, in 2017, she revisited Egypt with the first draft of the book, inviting people to write comments directly onto the photographs. In Sète#15, and also Dvalemodus, a short film she co-directed, she began to see her subjects as actors. Although she portrayed them in their true environments, she tried to project her own story onto the scenes, fictionalizing the realities of her subjects in a way that blurred the lines between their world and hers.
In the ongoing project Agata, a project about a young women Depoorter met at a striptease bar in Paris in October 2017, she explores her interest in collaborative portraiture. It’s an example of Depoorter’s interest in finding people that can work with her in telling a story. These stories are always partially hers, and partially theirs.