Profiles: Hester Baks –  “It feels impossible not to be photographing right now.”

Profiles: Hester Baks – “It feels impossible not to be photographing right now.”

Written by Chayah Monteban
Every few weeks we interview an inspiring entrepreneur or artist chosen from our online network, Profiles. This week: Hester Baks.

Amsterdam in times of corona. For photographer Hester Baks it’s not a time for staying home. “Of course this is a unique time. Especially when you love street photography.” She created her series: ‘A different spring in Amsterdam’ while taking walks with her dog. It portrays a piercing view of a different Amsterdam. She gives a surprising answer to the question what her life was like before corona: “I was working as a facial acupuncturist and it ran like a charm! Only doing photography seemed boring to me. But because acupuncture is a profession that involves physical contact I had to quit that. That’s why I pulled out my camera again.”

Profiles: Hester Baks –  “It feels impossible not to be photographing right now.”

What motivates you to do a series like you did?

I try to capture the world we now live in. I see so many special things every time I take a walk outside. The city is full of notes and messages that people leave for each other for instance. People on a bench talking to each other with 1.5 meter distance between them. It feels impossible for me to stay inside and not be photographing right now. It’s a time with so many touching and impressive images that it needs to be photographed.”

No tourists in Amsterdam, what was it like to capture that?

It’s amazing without tourists! This is how I can get shots of the Amsterdam people. Before, I wasn’t into street photography very much, because I don’t care for photographing the crowds and the tourists. In terms of image you see really beautiful things, a feast for the eyes, as bad as that may sound.

How do people respond to you and your camera?

I used to get some cranky responses, but now there are a lot people that enjoy getting their picture taken. They tell personal stories and it creates a connection. I also get really great responses to the series. I get messages from people I don’t know because they want to buy my photos to hang on their walls. That’s a first for me!

How would you describe your style of photography?

I want to convey what I see and feel. To me, photography is not just pushing a button. You don’t photograph with your eyes but with your heart. I mind sound too spiritual but that’s how I do it. I just let it run its course. When I’m doing someone’s portrait I also make sure there’s contact, a connection, to get that special thing from that person.

Profiles: Hester Baks –  “It feels impossible not to be photographing right now.”

You do a lot of black and white photography. Also in this last series. Why is that?

I think black and white is very beautiful. Because when all colours are removed you see the true essence. Colours are distracting. Black and white is more raw and it gets you to the core. I love colour as well, though. But black and white photography really gets me excited.

Are there similarities between your work as a photographer and your work as a facial acupuncturist?

Yes! Because when I do acupuncture, I look at a person very closely, I’m really involved with that other person. And it’s the same for portrait photography. I really like people very much. I love going out for a cup of coffee by myself and ending up in a conversation with someone. All these different stories people have are so interesting. I also always have a lot of questions for everyone I meet. And you can learn so much from each other, there is not just one type of human.

What would you like to accomplish as a photographer?

I would like to do more commissioned documentary work. It lets me tell the story of the people. Storytelling photography, that’s what I love.

Profiles: Hester Baks –  “It feels impossible not to be photographing right now.”

All photos in the series ‘A different spring in Amsterdam’ can be found here.

Instagram: hesterbaks

Written by: Chayah Monteban
Translation by: Renée ter Berg


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