For the Camera Japan Festival I photographed two days in Rotterdam and Amsterdam. My goal was to capture the mood of the event and focus on a couple of workshops that were held. 

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I’ve been loving Japanese culture for many, many years now. The food, politeness and architecture are so very different from how we live in Europe. In early 2023, I finally took the opportunity to visit this country, which is so far away from home. But it was everything I expected and more. It was definitely one of the countries in which I was inspired to take a ton of photos and came back home with excitement and a deep feeling of fulfillment. 

Working at the festival

Now that I came across the Camera Japan Festival, it instantly reminded me of my time in Japan and how much I enjoy experiencing the culture. As soon as I saw the opportunity, I applied to photograph during this multiday festival. 

The main part of the festival takes place in Rotterdam. While the focus is on Japanese film, they also explore the visual arts, music, dance, fashion, architecture, food, and much more. After this first weekend, a selection of films from the program is also shown in Amsterdam. I enjoyed being able to work on both locations since it was a different location, crowd and experience. 

In Rotterdam, the space was a lot bigger and there were more workshops and activities to photograph. During the workshops I took my time to focus on not only the details but also the overall experience of the participants in the room. I learned as well that photographing younger children can be a lot more challenging but their excitement and joy vibrated through the whole festival. 

What I learned

I learn a lot from working on festivals like this. Besides the sometimes challenging situations with lighting and movement. I felt like an important part of the festival. I could see that visitors felt at ease around me, enjoyed posing together for a photo and even came up to me for a small talk. The camera I hold doesn’t only capture people’s experiences in a single moment, but it also connects people. Sharing joy and opening conversations.