From VKPhotographyNL to Arlequin Photography
Arlequin Photography was originally created under the name “VKPhotographyNL”, and a two-people project. After my partner retired the name changed to Arlequin Photography officially in 2017, and a small joke turned into a fully fledged project.
I was first introduced to Japanese music in mid-2000 through a music video program about rock & metal music. I have always had an attraction to the hard & heavy section in the music store, so it was no surprise that I was interested in a program which centralized these genres. One day there was one single music video that changed everything: OBSCURE by Dir en grey.
I was immediately caught by the unique (and horrific, no less) visuals of this video and completely forgot to memorize the artist or the song’s title at that time. Since we’re speaking of the dark times of dial-up internet connection here my search options were limited, but I was so fascinated by what I had seen that I wanted to see it again. Even with the little information I had at that time. Searching and browsing introduced me to a lot of other artists, but it took a while before I retrieved the OBSCURE music video again.
All the other artists I had found fascinated me to no end with their music, but also with their visual appearance. A whole new world had opened for me, and with so many music that I actually liked I continued to search for more and more music, and since I am very much about supporting artists I like I started getting their CDs and DVDs at quite a regular basis. I used to take them to school to listen to in class when we could work on our projects (as I was studying to be a Multimedia Specialist at that time, I had a computer in front of me nearly all day) and one of my teachers quickly caught on to this habit. I was doing a creative studies, and a lot of CD covers are pretty creative right? But since he didn’t know any of the artist names he once decided to ask me about it and we started talking. From a creative standpoint my teacher was an amazing fan of the jrock and visual kei music industry, but sound wise he couldn’t be more horrified (I did pick out the “louder” artists by nature, remember?). During one of these conversations he jokingly suggested me to send a message to one of those artists to request permission to photograph at one of their shows.
Photography and school projects
At first I was very reluctant about this idea, because I’m a shy person and I always have been. Eventually it was this same teacher who ended up sending a message to the venue the artist was playing, explaining it was for a school project, and he gave me the assignment to indeed turn it into a school project. He also arranged my very first interview (which was with D=OUT), and I felt very stupid the entire time because I had questions that I had never seen before in the many, many interviews with artists that I had read online. As it turned out, they really enjoyed the interview questions because they were different than the standard questions about their current release that they were promoting.
Dutch versus English
This is something that is on my mind at all times when someone mentions Arlequin Photography. “Why do you only publish in English? Aren’t you Dutch?” Yes. I was born, raised and still live in The Netherlands. My partner however wasn’t. He was born in The Netherlands, but moved to South Africa while he was really young, and had only returned to The Netherlands a few years before I met him. His preference was English at all times, and since English is still one of the most used languages in the world and on the internet I decided against a fully Dutch project, but instead agreed to a fully English project.
That doesn’t mean I dislike the Dutch language or want nothing to do with it. You can happily speak Dutch to me if you want to, both online and in person. It’s just that I don’t think it’s fitting to have a full turnaround and publish only in Dutch from now on.
Since I had a classmate who I had more or less “infected” with the Japanese music virus he came with me to this interview and was also my partner for the school project. He was also the one who came up with the name VisualKeiPhotographyNetherLands, or VKPhotographyNL for short. It wasn’t a name I was completely behind, but at that time he had gone ahead and purchased a domain name to showcase our (or well, mostly mine actually) photos. That was about all of his input though. He was the one who wanted to produce content and turn it into a physical magazine, but he let me do all the effort for it while he just tagged along.
When we came to the end of our Multimedia Specialist studies he seemed to be “over” the whole Japanese music scene. It wasn’t a novelty for him anymore, so after some awkward chats between the two of us he just stopped responding to me entirely, broke off all ties to VKPhotographyNL and pretty much disappeared out of my life, leaving me with a project and expenses for a domain name and everything else.
AVO J-Rock Festival
After not doing anything for quite some time word about AVO J-Rock Festival -a festival with three artists organized by AVO Events & Promotion to celebrate 10 years of AVO Forum- reached me. I wasn’t sure what to think of this, as I had not done anything with Japanese music or artists for a while. Some encouragement from the people around me brought me in contact with the person behind AVO, and she approved my application as a photographer at her festival. It felt very awkward standing there alone with my camera in hand and people talking to me asking where my partner was while I could only answer “I don’t know” to that question.
In the end I felt a lot better after attending the festival, and I had three sets of photos that I could call “mine and mine alone” rather than a collaborative effort with my former partner.
I’m now completely used to the idea of being a one-woman project. I’m still trying to find my way and style for Arlequin Photography, which might be a bit confusing for readers because I originally limited myself to photography and interviews where possible. While I want to continue doing both of those, I also want to dive into the world of reviews and announcements of events in The Netherlands. Maybe there will be a Dutch version of Arlequin Photography in the future, but for now I have no idea if that idea will ever become reality or not. The original idea my partner had about a physical magazine is still in the back of my mind somewhere, but it’s not a priority in the slightest.
For now I like to focus on perfecting the English version of Arlequin Photography to the best of my ability, and welcome the future with open arms.
Guest writers and partnerships
While I am used to working alone, that doesn’t mean I am limited to doing so. I am not the only person with creative ideas in any shape or form, and I absolutely love the idea of giving others a chance to showcase their ideas and skills if they have no idea how to or don’t have the measures to do so themselves.
If you’d like to showcase your artwork (digital drawings, pencil drawings, fanart, etc.), review of an artist or release or anything else and partner up with me, then absolutely don’t hesitate to contact me!
Speaking of partnerships, I’m not limited to my activities here. I occasionally also help AVO Magazine with reviews about visual kei releases and translation of articles (English-Dutch and Dutch-English).