LET’S MEET UP WITH…MARTIJN GIJSBERTSEN

Martijn Gijsbertsen received a Special Mention for his black & white photo series ‘Daddy Cool’, portraying gay fathers with on of their children. Martijn is a Dutch photographer from Utrecht, who has a track record with Pride Photo Award. In 2011 he was awarded the Second Prize in the thematic category Straight Back At You . Currently, Martijn is working on his first photo book that will be and in stores in November 2013.

 
Who are the cool daddies in your photos? Tell us about the people behind this series.
 
The fathers in my series are all men living in or around Utrecht, my hometown. Some of them I already knew prior to making the series. I found the others though friends, acquaintances and a call in the social media. The idea behind the series is to show the diversity of gay parenthood. Some of these fathers are coparents with a lesbian couple, one of which is the biological mother. One father adopted his daughter together with his husband and one father is portrayed with his daughter from an earlier marriage with a woman.
 
Why did you choose to shoot the series in black & white?
 
By shooting this series in black and white I wanted to approach the nostalgic look and feeling that reminds me of my own childhood albums. High contrast black and white pictures, showing a father and child outdoors. These pictures show nothing out of the ordinary except the fact that the child is facing the camera and therefore confronts the viewer – especially those people who think that children should not be raised by same sex parents. As if by that cool and intense look into the camera they tell us that they are quite capable of deciding for themselves whether they are happy or not.
 
You seem to favour portraits as a photographic genre. Is this your way to tell peoples’ stories?
 
I have a preference towards portrait series bound together by a certain theme or topic. A series enables you to highlight your story from different angles. It also helps to channel your message with a higher intensity. I am currently punning the finishing touches on my first photo book. It is a book packed with personal stories of 65 women aged 65. It is my way to remember my mother, she died young and would have been 65 this year.
 
What is it that attracted you back to Pride Photo Award?
 
In The Netherlands, the LGBT community won many battles. Beginning in the 60s, the sexual revolution, more and more gay people came out of the closet. Albert Mol made history by becoming the first public person to do this on TV. Since then, it looks like the acceptance has grown steadily, culminating with the civil marriage for gay and lesbians. I believe that Netherlands should be very proud of that. However, we still need to keep an eye on the acceptance of the LGBT community. In addition to stories about acceptance we often hear stories in the news about intolerance and violence. Globally, there are still a lot of problems. The most recent example is the anti-gay law in Russia. I don’t understand where the hatred comes from. To put it in a nutshell, we really need an initiative such as Pride Photo Award.
 
 
Interview by Claudia Vendrik
 

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Pride Photo Award is an annual international contest for photos about sexual and gender diversity.

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