Amber Leijen, or stories with people inside

Ik zoek mensen met een verhaal. This means Amber was in search of people with a story for a photographic project. I though, that’s me. And I told her that. My enthusiastic words must have made an impression because she then invited me for a Skype session. I hate Skype.

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©Amber Leijen

The Skype thing started, and I was sweating. I saw Amber’s image on my laptop but couldn’t feel her. I know how to work with things I can feel. If I can’t sense the other person’s energy, disorientation takes over. When connecting with people live usually the whole thing just flows, there’s not much rational thinking involved. But in front of that screen I had to focus so hard, and as she asked for relevant stories I felt like I was going blank. C’mon Ana, c’mon, you’ve been in this position before, I reasoned, Skype can’t stand as the obstacle, for god’s sake. At some point I had the feeling I sort of dived into myself, searching, trying to connect to that inner fire that makes me. Words poured out, and I articulated entire sentences until I saw a smile forming itself on the screen, until she said it was enough, and that we would rather make an appointment, and get ourselves to work.

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©Amber Leijen

Two weeks later Amber came to my place, and we talked and talked. This time there was no disorientation: I loved her energy, her kindness, and it was just easy to bond, trust each other, improvise. I surrendered to her lens, and finally we had these pictures, and a few others she is using in the final project of her study at the Fotoacademie Amsterdam. Amber is busy with people, and the stories under their skins. The stories that play a decisive role in turning you into who you are: that’s what she aims at capturing. These often revolve around themes like anguish, sadness, loneliness.

Recently I got a message from her. She is entering the LensCulture Portrait Awards competition with the photo below. I am glad I let myself be vulnerable with her – that’s often the place where the most special creations pour from.

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©Amber Leijen

You can find more about Amber’s work over here. Or here.


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