The Darkrooms of... Tom Meerman
The Dark Rooms of... is an interview series in which a photographer talks about his or her darkrooms, the digital and the mental, or technical and inspirational. What makes you click?
In this edition of The Dark Rooms of… we focus on Dutch photographer Tom Meerman. Tom is a well-known and very active person in the Dutch photographic scene. You’ll get to know him in this interview.
By the way, if you haven’t read the previous five interviews, you can find them in the archive.
Here we go.
Who are you?
I am Tom Meerman, born in Amsterdam in 1959. I have been photographing since I was seventeen. After graduating from the Art Academy in Arnhem (1988), I started working as a visual artist and photographer. In addition, I have always been active organisationally and administratively. For instance, I was head of a photography department at a course institute in Arnhem, gave courses myself at Canon Image Centre in Amsterdam, worked as national advisor for amateur photography and managed the Photography schools in Amsterdam and Apeldoorn. I was president of the professional association for photographers GKf for seven years and of the copyright organisation PhotoAnonymous (FotoAnoniem) for as many as 17 years.
Now I mainly work as an independent designer for exhibitions and photo books and write about photography in a weekly column in De Gelderlander (Dutch regional newspaper) and on request with the work of others. As a coach, I help photographers set clear lines in their work. I wrote the book Analysing and Discussing Photographs based on my experiences and the insights I gained while talking about photos with colleagues and audiences. Of course, I photograph. A lot.
Do you think technique is important?
I shoot with the camera I have at hand. Sometimes that is my full-frame Canon, sometimes my compact and often my iPhone. A photo never leaves the studio without post-processing. Reality is the starting point rather than the goal.
What equipment do you use?
All kinds of cameras and lenses. A slingshot for travelling. Very occasionally my flash and even more occasionally a lightbox. I especially like to use wide-angle.
And what software?
Lightroom, Nik and Snapseed. For the project My Amsterdam (2010-present), I work with Camera+.
How do you edit your photos?
Always with the light turned on extra, preferably with some drama. Deep blacks are allowed. Artefacts are not shunned!
Where lies your heart?
Reality can be deepened, enriched, explained, diffused, differentiated, connected through my attention, interventions and communication.
My heart is currently mainly with the human-made environment, especially in a historical perspective.
Do you have your own style?
I mainly work in longer series, with a visual language fitting each series. For example, nostalgic Black and White for My Amsterdam; dramatic skies for Reaching for heaven (churches in Riverslands, specific area in middle of the Netherlands); romantic colours for Eye on Culemborg; restored perspective for Typical Istanbul and Edinburgh, Athens of the North; oldschool sepia for Decouvertes d'Egypte; Bleach Bypass and crossdevelopment for Glass all over; glamour for Crowns on the Head and Views from...; image and series rhyme for The Culemborgers and With the Americans.
Where do you get your inspiration from?
Light is everything. And stories about meanings of life in dead things.
Does your project start with an idea or with a loose image?
Light, form, narrative, context and impulse form starting points that, over time, force themselves into manifestation.
When is your project finished?
Never. Thankfully. In the meantime, a photograph has an exhibitable form, as a print, book or digital medium. With a title, signature, frame, medium, context. It is about filling public space.
During your project, do you already know how it ends?
The end? I am going to die. Someday. Then it stops.
What is your favorite photo and why?
In this picture, every story about the meaning of life is captured. The mystery of here and there, then and now, always and everywhere is captured and passed on here.
What do you want to achieve
I would like everyone to get to know the joy of the open mind. Through my photos and my way of looking, for example. And that I may work as an inspiration for everyone who wants to develop.
What do you want to know from others? You may ask one photographer one question. What would that be?
All my questions to photographers are always about the why. And then I am curious whether the answer involves the subject, the photo, the approach or the objective. And then we enter each other's minds very quickly.
Where can we see more
Through my website: www.tommeerman.nl
In my book Analysing and Discussing Photographs (in Dutch), I incorporated many photographs from my own hand. Photos from 1977 to 2021.
In my book The Light Quadrant (in Dutch), I made photos black and white to make light insightful. The photos are all from my own hand.
After 40 years of photography, I made an overview of my work and projects. It can be viewed at Blurb.
That’s it for this newsletter
Do you like this interview? Do you want to see more? Send my some suggestions for photographers you like to see interviewed at Darkrooms. Of course you can suggest yourself if you have an interesting story to tell.
Till next time,
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Like these interviews? Lucky you, there’s five more of them in the archive.
Dat ziet er leuk uit zo. Ook teruglezend bevalt het me.