'Just coffee first?' my client asks. That's how we always start. We have known each other for a long time and every time we see each other we start by catching up. This time, his question soon arises: whether I can capture his working life as an urban designer and planner, a period of about 40 years, in a number of images. He explains his question in more detail and I get enthusiastic, because this is where my experience in spatial planning projects and my photography come together.
It will turn out to be one of my best photo assignments so far.
Many conversations follow. Conversations about his vision, his motives, his inspirations and, what later turns out to be most important, his dilemmas in spatial planning. Slowly the essence of his assignment becomes clearer to me. His dilemmas stick with me. How can I visualise them?
We look up on those first images. We talk about the contradictions in space, the diverging interests and the dilemmas that you encounter as an urban planner / planner in the broad playing field of spatial planning. He says that not everything is always based on quality. But that the chaos of the dilemmas can ensure that you still find the right way, so that we all improve a little. He calls this a 'constant challenge'.
Ultimately, those beautiful conversations are leading in my creative process of making images. Images that reflect the dilemmas in spatial planning, images that always evoke new viewpoints, images that always show something different: urbanity, the countryside, the dilemmas between the windmills and the protection of nature reserves. But above all images that feed and support the conversation about spatial planning. Because that becomes increasingly clear to me in the conversations with this client: how important it is to capture the dilemmas at all: 'The images are so necessary to tell that story and automatically evoke all kinds of questions and discussions', according to the client.
The presentation takes place in his office. I couldn't say it more beautiful than him: 'if you think you know what you see, it appears that it is something else again.'
What started with coffee, ended in a beautiful visual story about 40 years of spatial planning in the Netherlands - including the questions and discussions that go with it.