Interview with: Margaret Lansink

Margaret Lansink is a fine-art photographer based in Amsterdam whose imagery is an exploration of self and an honest expression of raw emotion laid bare on film. To accompany our interview with Margaret, we are really fortunate to be able to feature images from Margaret’s recent series ‘Hesitation’. Enjoy…

What was it that first sparked your interest in photography?
Before WWII, my father was the first man in our town with a camera and, by making pictures of my mother and her sister, she fell in love with him. There were always cameras in our house so, at a young age, I had already ‘stolen’ a camera to capture my moments of joy and solitude.

Who or what are your main sources of inspiration for your work?
I get my inspiration from all kinds of different art. Gerhard Richter and Lucian Freud are my favourite painters; I never ever get enough of looking at their work. Entering a museum for me is like entering my own cocoon again; it brings peace and so much inspiration to me. Sometimes I just want to sit there and feel. My greatest inspirations in photography are very far apart and ever-changing: Guido Guidi, Bernard Plossu, Francesca Woodman, and Nan Goldin are the most important for me but also artists like Saul Leiter, Yusuf Sevincli, Morten Andersen, Stephen Shore, Alec Soth, William Eggleston, Michael Botman, Todd Hido and many others. When a photo or painting is truly good, I can’t get enough of it! And although my inspirations are different in style, they all have such a honest way of photographing, which I think strikes me the most.

I read an article which mentioned that the majority of your work is shot on film; is there a reason why you choose an analogue method over digital? Is the choice of medium important for your process?
Analogue film gives me the richness of creating deeper layers of image. It is how I am able to connect via my camera directly to my intuition in creating the images I want to. So instead of just clicking away digitally until you have the good shot, film makes me create my own inner flow with the camera. I use different camera’s and different kind of films e.g. I use mostly the medium format Mamiya 7ii for landscapes but also the Leica M6 with TMax 400. For more diary shots, I use the Contax T2, often with flash, to give it that raw feeling. In the Contax, I use TMax 400 or Kodak Portra 400 colour film.
It is such an awesome moment, when I’ve developed my films, to see them on the lightbox and then scan them onto my computer. I makes me feel like a child in a candy store; I can’t wait to taste it.

Tell us about the series, Hesitation, that we are featuring here; what do you want us to take away when viewing this series?
Hesitation is all about my inner feelings; my hesitation to give myself emotionally to another person. Although it is personal, I want the spectator to experience it in his or her own way. To invite her or him to go with my images as inspiration on a journey through their own memories, emotions, expectations, fears and desires.

What is next for you? Are you working on any projects that you can tell us about?
There are many projects I’m devoting my time to. Just to name the most important ones for the moment:

I’m working on the final version of my new photobook ‘Fear no more’. 15 copies have been digitally printed just to give a feel for the touch and look of the book. Now I’m working with a designer to ‘cross all the t’s’ before I produce the final version. 75 signed copies will go out into the world so any orders beforehand are welcome!

Together with a close friend with whom I graduated from the Photo Academy of Amsterdam, I’m curating a spectacular exhibition of autonomous work from 10 photographers who graduated with us five years ago. It will be held in Amsterdam in November 2017.

‘Meraviglia’ is a series about women in their fifties, who generally feel as if they are no longer important to society. Therefore I want to photograph them in a pure, beautiful way – and yet my way. To show the world that aged women are not only wise women but also very beautiful. For these women, the English have a beautiful saying: a ‘wise crone’. I want to combine these images with feminine landscapes. My intuition will, as always, lead me to which film I will use and if this will be colour or B&W.

‘The Art of Empathy’ is a project I started last year with the love of my life. It’s all about the empathy we humans have lost in our society. We try to rekindle this via the inspirational story of Mr. Philips Radio, the Dutch Consul who, together with his Japanese counterpart, helped thousands of Jews escape the tyranny of Nazi Germany and almost certain death. Despite great personal risk, he found inside himself the empathy and strength to help these total strangers. With the journey of the Jews in our mind, we work with people in small communities to rethink what empathy is and what it can do for us in difficult times thereby embracing diversity and bridging the big divide we currently see. We started in Lithuania in November 2016 with an artist-in-residency program and this year we have been invited to Japan where we will go on recording empathy on a small scale in the hope of starting a much bigger appreciation of this lost human talent via our images and poetry.

But actually my overall goal as photographer in this life is to have a retrospective exhibition of my work when I am in my 80s at the famous Huis Marseille Museum in Amsterdam – so I’ve still another 35 years of image making to go!

You can see more of Margaret’s work at:

Website / Instagram / Tumblr

All images copyright Margaret Lansink.