The photo of Ed van Thijn and how it came together

Originally posted on 12/02/2013

Some time ago I had the pleasure meeting Ed van Thijn for a photo-shoot.(former mayor of Amsterdam, and a retired politician)

As usual I was present during the interview to get a better idea of what kind of photo would fit the interview. I don’t always manage to get a photo that matches with the interview. Sometimes interviews are about abstract stuff, hard to capture in a portrait. But this time the one thing that echoed trough my head was his comment during the interview that he “was now more Jewish than ever before”.

That was something to hold on to.

But how to visualise such thing?

Nervously I started to look around in the room we were in…looked just like any other living room. Outside the daylight was fading…

While the interview ended and Eva Jinek (interviewer) chatted a bit more with Mr Van Thijn I asked his wife Odette to show me around in the house to see if there was a room or a place that I thought good for a photo. Although it was quite a nice house I didn’t see any inspiring corner that could suit as a background for the photo. Outside, in the garden, there was at least space…

It was cold outside so I figured the man needed a jacket…But I wanted a stylish one, one that was good-looking enough for a photo. I asked his wife and she helpfully showed me what they called the funeral jacket… To me it looked perfect.

“Do you want him to wear a hat as well? She asked. A hat? I couldn’t be happier. Hats and portraits go very well together…I felt the photo was coming together.

With jacket and hat we went downstairs and I told Mr Van Thijn what I wanted. Just a short time in the garden. With hat and jacket.

And so we headed out in the garden.

Since it wasn’t very warm, and light was getting dim we quickly made various photos.

The rose I already noticed during the interview. Somehow I knew it had to be in the picture even before I knew how the picture was going to look like. So when we went outside I quickly took one rose (with permission) hoping I could fit it in.

As a portrait photographer you often feel like that to get a better picture you very humbly need to persuade people into doing something that they don’t really feel like doing. I was afraid that asking for the rose to be in the picture like it is now would be too much acting for him, or might feel too weird, or just overdone but to my joy it was no problem at all.

(a red rose is also the symbol of the political party he is a member of. The rose in the picture isn’t red, but hey…you can’t have everything, can you?)

 Ed van Thijn voor Eva Jinek neemt Stelling