FOTODOK’s talent program Lighthouse offers ten emerging photographers the opportunity to develop special ideas into a convincing projectplan. All ten have a good portion of motivation and an affinity for socially urgent themes. For six months, they are supported in terms of content, practicality and entrepreneurship by a large group of experts from the field, the FOTODOK team and each other. We are currently in the middle of our fourth Lighthouse program, a good time to get to know the talents a little better. Intern Robin Schaap, a student at the Reinwardt Academy, focuses her research on the further development of FOTODOK’s talent program. For her research she interviews all participants in this edition of Lighthouse. For the first interview we meet Kevita Junior, documentary and portrait photographer.
When and how did you discover that you loved photography?
I have always photographed as a hobby. I took pictures with my mobile phone, especially of my friends. Later I bought a simple camera and continued to take portraits of my friends. Because of my work as a volunteer at events, I also increasingly made atmospheric images. The more I picked up my camera, the more I knew that this was actually what I wanted to keep on doing.
Beeld: Zelfportret Kevita Junior, uit de serie When We Grow Up.
What prompted you to study photography?
I first went to secondary vocational education, where I completed the training of social and cultural worker. After that I worked with children for a while. I already knew during my studies that I actually wanted to do something different. The art world was quite unknown to me. I did not grow up in an environment with people around me who were involved in art and/or photography. My knowledge was zero and because I knew nothing about this world, I chose to eventually go to art school. I was an opportunity to further develop myself as a photographer within the art world. I was then 22 years old.
How do you like developing yourself in the field so far?
We are now a little over 6 years later. I am now 28 years old and I just graduated. Looking back, a lot has happened in a very short time. I have been able to learn a lot from great people, I am very grateful for that. It is very nice to develop myself in the field and I look forward to continuing to do so.
How did you end up with the Lighthouse program and what were your reasons for signing up?
I did an internship at FOTODOK and during my internship I got to know the Lighthouse program. I signed up after graduation because the Lighthouse program guides you through the somewhat business-like part of your artistic venture. Many things I learn during the Lighthouse program are things I didn’t get during my studies.
What would you have liked to learn during your training as a photographer that they didn’t teach you? / What lessons would you have liked to have learned during your education?
I would have liked a little more business oriented entrepreneurship lessons. I am mainly talking about drawing up invoices, what you need to know for your tax return and further accounting, rates you can ask for, funds that can be applied for, budget planning for research, how much you can pay yourself, how you can arrange your pension, etc. insurance and rights that you need to arrange / know, etc. Actually, the very practical things that you need to know to set up your own business.
Have there been times for you when you wanted to quit? If so, can you describe such a moment and explain what ultimately prompted you to continue.
I couldn’t find my way in the education system. I didn’t feel at home there. Especially in my last two years I was looking forward to the end of the study more and more, I wanted to stop more and more. I eventually did continue. I started working as a freelancer during my studies. Working was doing me well and it motivated me to finish the study asap.
Image left : from – When We Grow up Image right: Shivani Raghoenath from – When We Grow Up.
What project are you currently working on?
I am now working on Motherland, a new documentary project about female immigrants who traveled to the Netherlands around Suriname’s independence.
How did you come up with this idea?
The idea originated from my graduation project, this project was about a generation that grew up in the Netherlands with multiple traditions and cultures. Mainly with a focus on the Hindustani community. The Motherland project focuses on people from Suriname, who partly share the same history.
What is the biggest challenge in the project you are currently working on?
Writing for a funding proposals so that I can finance the project.
How would you describe your technique and style?
In my audiovisual and documentary photographic work I emphasize the representation of our multicultural society, marginalized groups and the personal individual identities in the Netherlands. I want to work with people of these stories .The colourful, strong and resilient portraits and objects tell stories about cultures, traditions and lives that are not always seen or understood, but which contain a lot of knowledge and wealth.
What fascinates you in life? This can be anything and does not have to be related to your work as a photographer.
People, behaviour and life fascinates me. I believe each person is layered with a mix of all possible things and I have a keen interest in how identities are formed through genes and social constructs.
Who do you prefer to turn to for advice?
My partner, some colleagues and friends.
Which photographer or photographers appeal to you?
JR, Susan Meiselas, Dawoudbey, William Klein.
What does your dream job look like?
Right now I’m living my dream. I am now doing what I used to dream of doing. I especially want to continue to develop myself in this way. I wonder what will come next!
What are your future goals?
I hope to further professionalize myself as a maker and to develop myself within the artistic field. I want to realize projects in which new collaborations and new dialogues arise. My first future goal is to be able to realize a new documentary project that can possibly be supported by a fund.
Complete the sentence, photography is…….
….access to another life.
Image left Gofhran: for Textielmuseum, project Bindweefsel. Image right: een levensboom, project Bindweefsel