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image by Ria van Dijk,
Tilburg, 5 September 1936

photographs collected & edited by
Erik Kessels and Joep Eljkens
© KesselsKramer Publishing

The first impression glancing at the pictures of an aging woman always with a gun in her hand was that of fascination and aversion. Both feelings tell more about me than the person depicted.

Ria van Dijk is an old lady by now. 1936 she started to go to a fairground shooting gallery, with every one of her shots she triggered a camera. The day after she could pick up a portrait of herself.

I was a little short of time these days, but still was looking for new material for my blog. I have some books at home, but no time for making reproductions…

I am tired of the reality of photographs that only depict reality without transforming it to anything but a limited copy.

I am tired of photographs that rarely manage to find a form that matches the individuality of the photographer.
It is as simple as that: even in the endless realms of the Internet it is hard to find quality work.

I really wish to introduce work here that is not by the big ones in the history of photography.

Maybe I am just tired of photography, and it’s limitations, sometimes, it is like that, impatient with the progress of my own work, dissatisfied with the limitations of my work, but hey, it just one of my moods that will vanish as soon the sun turns up on the blue sky so rare these days.

Actually it’s not photography that is limited, it’s always the photographer.

Anyway, a journalist discovered the images of Ria van Dijk, got her permission to show them to KesselKramer, an agency, they made a book out of it, the images got famous, and the lady too, finally the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam bought her work.

The strength of this project, yes it is a project, is its concept. A woman shooting pictures for her family album. Ria van Dijk never has married. The passing of time, a person becoming bit by bit older, the fashion is changing, and always this strange setting, a lady holding a gun, closing one eye, shooting.

The images we get to see loose their strength after the photographing machine is filled with color film. Vernacular photography with all its charm of the unexpected, with the signs of times long gone by, depicting all the memories we could have had and have, vernacular photography is loosing its quality with the change to color film, the change to digital photography will be a disaster.

I copied the images at lens culture.
Before that I found them at the Süddeutsche Zeitung Magazin,
whose image editor understood nothing and cropped the images in a extremely stupid and brutal way. I think he should change his profession.
( Sometimes, in dark moments, I am thinking of changing my profession too.)

Photograph cropped by Süddeutsche Zeitung Magazin