Sander Meisner (1979) is an Amsterdam based photographer specialized in medium format film photography using long exposures and found artificial light. He photographs the urban contemporary landscape. Sander Meisner is a night walker, venturing out into the city discovering colorful beauty in the desolate corners of the gray man made structures. He exposes the sleeping infrastructure of the urban environment.
Gifted with a feeling for composition and detail, Sander is turning these usually overlooked corners into objects of desire. The lack of light and extremely long exposure of the photographic film add a secondary effect; any interaction of human movement becomes totally invisible. Therefore, his pictures make us wonder what of this beauty will remain if human life would suddenly disappear. How long will infrastructure last when not regularly maintained and when will nature take over?
“…bought myself a 35mm film camera and read a lot about how to use it, I am in love with photography ever since.”
What got you into photography, and what makes you keep on doing it?
I was looking for a new creative challenge about three years ago so bought myself a 35mm film camera and read a lot about how to use it, I am in love with photography ever since.
I keep doing it for a couple of reasons, I like my pictures and feel like I keep getting better all the time, also when I am out taking photographs I can forget everything around me, time flies past, from the composing and shooting, to the scanning of my negatives to the editing of the scans and seeing the final print, I like everything as much. Also I think the sence of anticipation after shooting a roll of film and waiting for it to be developed adds to the excitement. I am currently seeing two lines in my work, one is more abstract and about geometry, shadow and light, the other about (night) urban contemporary landscapes, and the light.
I am very excited to see where both directions will take me. I am currently working on a series of pictures in which I try to combine both, I want to combine the landscape feel with the abstract feel and bring it together in such a way that it will turn into a bridge between the two directions my work is taking.
If we’d like to trade something for a photo you made, what should the CFYE delivery man bring to your door?
A year supply of Fujifilm 160s would be nice, I love the stuff!
“I like places that aren’t pretty or interesting at first glance.”
What’s your favorite item to take on the road with you?
My mamiya C33 with the 105mm lens and some rolls of Fujifilm 160s and Kodak 160nc, my lightmeter and ipod with Cinnamon Chasers or Aeroplane playing.
Something really fun about me:
Best shooting location we should check out?
Right now I really like the Bijlmer in Amsterdam. Lots of empty space, interesting light and buildings. I like places that aren’t pretty or interesting at first glance. Especially at night these places can make beautiful photographs, concrete can have many colors and places that have light and shadows present in such a way that they add to the geometry of a space intrigue me, I’ve found the bijlmer to be a good area for these kind of things.
“At first it was hard to get things right, exposure times, processing, my shots didn’t look like what I envisioned.”
Tell us about your work as a photographer, did you just pick up a camera and educate yourself?
I did, I bought myself a Nikon 35mm camera, a tripod and started shooting at night. At first it was hard to get things right, exposure times, processing, my shots didn’t look like what I envisioned. I read about photography on the internet and in a few books. And from there on I learned myself how to use a camera and how to expose a film correctly. Once I learned how to expose correctly I could focus on composition, concept and theme which I am still doing today.
What’s your camera setup?
I’ve got a Mamiya C33 medium format TLR camera with the 65mm, 80mm, 105mm and 135mm lenses which I use exclusively. I run Fujifilm 160s (or 400h if I need the extra speed through I) and almost always shoot on a tripod, I like the tripod for composing (and the extrabit of sharpness)I feel like it remembers my thoughts. Also I got some Ricoh and Nikon 35mm camera’s and lenses but I hardly use them anymore.
How does your environment react on you taking your camera everywhere and shooting all the time?
I only shoot when I am on a mission, I do keep a 35mm slr in my backpack at all times but hardly take it out. It is there so I can make snapshots of things that interest me, also a few shots in my tunnels series were shot with this. But I think that people mostly like my old film camera’s and what I am doing.
“Mostly my nights of photography are filled with silence and an occasional encounter with people wondering what the hell I am doing there”
What’s the strangest thing that ever happened to you when you were out shooting photos?
I mostly shoot at night in industrial areas, I once got a beer can thrown towards my head from a passing car, but that’s about it. Mostly my nights of photography are filled with silence and an occasional encounter with people wondering what the hell I am doing there in the middle of nowhere in the middle of the night with that funny looking camera. Had a lot of fun conversations in unexpected places.
Who is your favorite movie/gaming/cartoon character?
I really like the Tick, he’s a brilliant superhero with his moth sidekick.
Which artist would you like to work with?
Peter Bialobrzeski. He’s a university professor as well as amazing photographer. The classes he teaches are supposed to be a wonderful small community where everything is about photography. I don’t know if you can call this working with him, but I’d like to be in his class for a while. I would like to learn more about photography and try to teach myself, but I think it might be really inspiring to get taught by someone like him.
If you could fill a swimming pool with something, what would it be?
Favorite city, and coolest thing about it?
Amsterdam; home sweet home.
What can we expect from you in the future?
I have got an exhibition coming up in February. I have been asked to take pictures of Alkmaar, 15 of the pictures I will produce will be exhibited, the rest of the series will be available on my website (www.sandermeisner.nl) from February. I have recently shot a series of photographs for Heren 5 architects which will be published on the cover and the inside of the next issue of DAX architecture magazine. Other than that I have got a couple of ideas for new series I am going to produce and hopefully some more exhibibtions and publications in the coming year.