For how all of this came to be, we have to rewind to 2018 when two wonderful things happened in one day. One: I met Oli for coffee and an impromptu photowalk in Melbourne and two: him introducing me to the wonderful world of Cinestill film. A staple for me ever since. Oli is an amazing photographer and that is an understatement. Over the years I have been following and admiring all that he does from afar, until one day… he posted an Instagram story asking who would be interested in joining a photography workshop in Belgium. Obviously a hell yes moment for me. In the meanwhile my love Noah Noël and I started photographing and combining our crafts more and more and so it happened that we drove to the lovely city of Ghent to join Ghent Bent together. A workshop by Oli, with special guest star: the fabulous Jackson Grant. Camera’s, notebooks AND fancy outfits packed, as we would also be modelling for them and the attendees. Very exciting, very new for us.
A very grant Ghent Bent — reflections
“We don’t get paid to use a camera, we get paid to pay attention”
He truly practices what he preaches without you even noticing it. The way he captured us both in our element in such a short time and under those circumstances, in the middle of Ghent with 15 other photographers around, how?! With attention to detail of just the right little things that are actually meaningful to us. We are forever thankful for this. This is such a precious and special time of our lives and our relationship and to have that documented by such a genius means so much to us both. We also want to thank the other photographers who send us their photos of us. Champs.
The workshop moved me in more ways than I had anticipated. Inspired by both Oli and Jackson, we bought a Super8 camera. They also like to kick it old school and I’m excited to expand my love for film even further.
But also… and on a more serious note: it made me rethink if I want to continue photography or change gears & careers to something entirely different. Being surrounded by such mad talent sparked some intense imposter syndrome. I don’t mind this checkpoint and taking a hard look at myself and my work. Questioning and exploring: what do I bring to the table? Am I choosing with purpose or doing things out of routine? Do I feel called towards another direction? It’s important to me to be consciously committed and aligned, or to realign with whatever is needed to shift.
Creating together with Noah has helped tremendously with that. It provides a sense of wonder & playfulness that I enjoy so much. Seeing them get excited over photography excites me too, it’s infectious. When mostly working on your own, it’s a nice change of scenery to be able to share both the joys and carry the workload together whenever it suits us. Our recent joined forces on wildly various projects, and when I say wildly, I mean WILDLY (but more on that later), reminded me of the heartfelt love I feel for this profession. A renewed perspective and refocus on our own road ahead instead of looking at those of admirable others.
And what an absolute treat it was to meet Jackson and his work. Colorful, expressive, bold, playful, stylish, just like him. “It is so nice to meet other queer photographers in the industry”, he said when we sat down for drinks after the workshop. That sense of community & recognition is probably the most important takeaway for me. We hit it off and quickly discovered overlapping summer plans: a trip to Berlin and a visit to Milkshake festival in Amsterdam. Which turned into more hanging out, more dancing and hopefully more of all of that to come in the future, wherever that may be.
Last but certainly not least, I want to end this writing with Simon. Thinking of our talk then brings a smile to my face, especially knowing how things came full circle now. We skipped the small talk and dove right in, heart on our sleeves, open and connected. Coincidentally, it so happened a lot of the workshop attendees from Ghent in July were in Berlin in October. Just like us. They were here for conference Way Up North, we were back here to find more answers to the questions our trip in July left us with. Simon was among them, and I was hoping he would feel the same kind of comfort, ease & affirmation in the city as we do. In the way we feel that in our core. I am so happy we found ourselves on the same dance floor, for the same reasons. It felt like the exact time and place we all needed to be.