Artist Rineke Dijkstra, 56, On Looking With Fresh Eyes
Popular Photography: What is your aim when taking pictures?
Rineke: I want to show things you might not see in normal life. I make normal things appear special. I want people to look at life in a new and different way, but it always has to be based on reality. It's important that you don't pass judgement, and leave space for interpretation. For example, in the Almerisa series, the young Bosnian refugee, whose portrait I took for the first time in the early 1990s, it was important for me not to show any specific details of her surroundings such as the décor of the apartment. If you show too much of a subject's personal life, the viewer will immediately make assumptions. If you leave out the details, the viewer has to look for much subtler hints such as how her shoelaces are tied, or her lipstick or the state of her The same goes for the picture of the boy in Odessa.You could show he is poor by including a trashcan or a stray cat in the picture. But for me it's all about subtlety and the fact that you really have to read the image to get clues about the boy.That makes it equal for everybody.
I like it when photographs are democratic. I usually find that portraits work best if you don't have a specific idea of what you are looking for. You have to be open for anything to happen. If you try and force something, there is always the danger of a picture becoming too one dimensional.
Interview via Popular Photography