Interview with Eva Veldhoen

When I play, I’m a happier person. Life unfolds before me and surprises me with possibilities I hadn’t imagined.

What did you enjoy the most about making this book?

The fact that I was creating something straight from the heart, something I felt passionate about. Because I self-funded and self-published the book, I was able to make it exactly how I wanted. From the start, I did not exactly know where this book idea was going to lead me, let alone how to make/fund/publish a book in a practical sense, but I was excited and not making this book was not an option. So I just went for it, followed my gut, went with the flow. I made the book in a state of play. I had become my own subject. As I say in the book: ‘When I play, I’m a happier person. Life unfolds before me and surprises me with possibilities I hadn’t imagined.’ That is exactly what happened.

Can you find 3 words that describe what your book is about?

Play | Beginnings | Letting go

What was the motivation behind this project?

It started with a fascination for the Lego structures my then-five-year-old son had started building. I thought they were beautiful and started taking them to my studio to photograph. Many Lego creations later I decided to collect them in a book about play, combined with essays and poetry.
To me, play is about following joy, curiosity, my intuition. It’s about the power of imagination and experiment, about learning and adjusting while doing. Play also involves being brave. It requires me to trust the process without knowing the results, approaching the world with an open mind. It turned out that I had to relearn this. The advice I got from my son: just begin. It always turns into something.

Why did you decide to give this project the form of a book?

I am a student at Fotoschool Statief (Utrecht). One of the last year’s assignments is to make a book in collaboration with a writer and a designer. I had already started photographing my son’s Lego works and thought of collecting the photos in a book just for him. Then I started thinking about the idea to actually work with one or more writers and a designer and make a professional book out of it. When the concept of ‘play, the idea of putting the photos in this broader context became clear, I got so excited that there was no doubt: I was going to make this book. The addition of essays and poetry to the photos offered a way of putting the photos in the context that I had in mind, add a poetic touch to the series. The right design would also add to the photos. In the end, I wanted to create a total concept around play and a book would be the perfect form for doing so.

As this is our first interview, can you introduce your work in general?

I am always searching for beauty. I want to capture, share and celebrate it. Because beauty comforts, gives hope, inspires. I find it in shapes, compositions and colours; these are my tools to capture the – in my eyes – essence of something. For me, beauty goes hand in hand with realness. Only when realness filters through, I am touched. This can be found in an underlying story or emotion, a composition that is just not right, a wandering gaze, humour. Something that itches, a little edge. Somewhere between documentary and staged photography is where my sweet spot is.

I get inspired by the external, physical world around me, but also – maybe even more – by my own imagination. This has to do with my own path, which has been (and still is) about reconnecting with my intuition, peeling off the layers that have come to cover it. Underneath the layers, the masks, the distraction, is where I feel our essence is, where there is pureness. This is where true beauty exists. In the essence, we are all the same and connected to each other and the world around us. I love to create work around these themes, in which my love for shape, composition and/or colour comes back so that everything comes together.

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