Interview : Raul Smith      Images : Johan Nieuwenburg

Johan Nieuwenburg is a photographer shooting his way to the main scene on film, right from the land where the end of the world is at. His photography evokes that raw, messy, rock and roll feeling that we often love to see on film, armed with only his punk rock attitude, a 35mm camera, and a pretty subject in front of the lens, with the willingness to make something happen.

Part of his approach to photography comes from the same instincts that a good cinematographer has, just let it be, and work your way around it to take the best. In this case it happens to be around that winning combo, cool kids, free spirit, Latin America, and talent.



How old are you?  Where you were born, and where are you currently located?

I’m 24, I’m from Den Haag, Holland and now I came to Buenos Aires to go to film school.

You say that you’re from the Netherlands but right now you’re live in Buenos Aires, what made you travel so far?

Before coming to Buenos Aires I lived some time in Barranquilla, Colombia, the birthplace of my mother. I came to Argentina because I wanted to go to a different and unfamiliar place.

What is your background? It has always been the photography or how do you started in this world? Do you remember your first camera?

I’ve always liked the punk -rock scene and attitude that desire to express our feelings of dissatisfaction thru any means possible, including non-traditional media witch always caught my attention.

I had several punk bands, but as a hobby, but I guess living off the music is not really my thing.

When I was about 18 years I got my first camera (Canon 600D) and around the same time it was when the LOMO fashion was on the rise, where all those fucking hipsters used cameras like Holga, Diana etc.. And, you could find all this kind of photos on Flickr and Tumblr and I remember just automatically felt in love with that analog texture, but hated the quality of those cameras. At that time I didn’t know they used analog cameras I thought they used Photoshop to achieve that effect.

Then I decided to do something similar but with better quality lens, but ignoring the existence of 35mm film at that time and just wasn’t able to achieve that kind of look. So I gave up and step aside of photography for a while.

It was not until Two years ago that I bought my first “professional” SLR camera here in Buenos Aires, where I shot my first portraits and that moment forward I think to myself “this is something that I want to live off”.

Why film over digital?

Not being able to see exactly what I’m doing helps me concentrate better on the adequate time and the attitude that I desire to capture. And logically the texture of the film is incomparable. In My opinion with digital everything is very crisp real, documentary.

Your work is very focused in that rock and roll attitude and free spirit vibe, is this your main goal or something you caught on over the years?

Yeah that’s something I always enjoy and wanted to do. With each set I shoot I feel a little bit closer to developing my signature, but that’s my style.

As you told us earlier you’re studying cinema, what would you say is that thing you transfer from film to photography?

I don’t know, you can ask one of my teachers that can make you fail a whole course just by not reading a freaking Saussure’s text book.

If you’ll have to choose photography or film, which one do you choose?

I’ll choose stills because I feel that a great set of photos can tell a story just as good as a feature film, is only using less frames per second, La Jetée by Chris Marker is a good example of this.

When you look for inspiration, what are you “go to” things or people to look for?

Stanley Kubrick’s composition, the Cohen brothers, Tarantino among others are the people who inspires me the more.

Do you search for references or what is your creative process to tackle a shoot?

I try to find the least possible references in the photography itself and more in the movies, but sometimes I got inspiration in the work of others and usually when this happens are photographers like me, people from Instagram.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years from now?

I don’t know, I usually try not to think about the future. I hope that in 5 years from now I’ll still be able to do this professionally.

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