A GOLDEN COLLABORATION
14-year-old Dutch girl taking the modeling world by storm
Hello, would you love to tell us about the very first beginning of your career?
My career started at the high school I’m still working as a math teacher. A daughter of a colleague of mine did a make-up course for students at my school, but it didn’t go so well. I had just bought a flash set at the time and was already taking pictures during school parties. I asked my colleague’s daughter if she would like to work together during the course: she would do the makeup and I would do mini photo shoots. This worked very well and one girl, in particular, came to the course every time. In July 2012 we did the first official photo shoot with her, her parents, and the makeup artist. The location was their living room. You could say that Studio Tjeerd started then.
Tell us about your very first work.
My first work comes from that particular photo shoot. Most of the photos are portraits. I did a lot of photo shoots with this girl, which I still consider to be my early work, also because I had to find my own style and especially learned a lot in directing a model. This has already resulted in a number of publications and two winning photos in photo competitions. One of the winning prizes was an exhibition in Murcia, Spain (2014) and the other an exhibition at Musée du Louvre in Paris, France (2015).
How did your work evolve in time?
That’s a good question. I think I now have my own personal style, my own fingerprint so to speak. People say that they can immediately recognize my photos between all the photos they see on their feed at Instagram. I think that my studio work (note: almost always in the model’s living room!) has acquired more depth due to the lighting I use, but what remains is the (eye) contact that I make with the model through my camera. What I always do and always will do is to maintain intensive contact before and after a photo shoot.In this way, in my view, you build a collaboration with a deeper layer. I am genuinely interested in what moves and drives a model. It is something I have often heard from my (parents of) models: they find that contact special compared to other photographers where they feel more like a number.
In this specific editorial, what do you love the most? Do you have your favorite ones?
That’s a hard one. In consultation with Merlin’s mother (see also the answer to the question above), we’ve chosen these photos. Each of the photos is special to me. Not only the photo itself, but also where – the location – the photo was taken and the feeling that the photo evokes. I can most of the time exactly remember how each shoot went. With that comment in mind, I would definitely opt for the photos of Merlin in the white outfit. The photos were taken during the award ceremony of an international award I received in June of this year in New York: ArtTour International Top 60 Masters. Merlin, her mother and I, flew to New York especially to attend the ceremony and before the ceremony I saw this little corner and asked Merlin to take some pictures there. I think this shows how well we are already attuned to each other. The “photoshoot” took exactly one and a half minutes and in that short amount of time there were five photos that I thought were a “hit”.
Funny little detail: Merlins mother, who was of course also at the award ceremony, later wondered when we had taken these pictures, because she didn’t notice it. But I also think the photo where Merlin stands on the sand is a very cool photo, because it has much more of a fashion feeling.
Merlin is one of your muses, would you tell us her best point of charisma?
I would like to correct that: Merlin IS my muse! I guess that her beautiful blue eyes are her best point of charisma, but if I write it like that, I don’t do her justice. Merlin is an easygoing girl who has everything to become a top model. She listens carefully to directions, always tries her best and has the ability to radiate something in her attitude and expression that is difficult to touch. She is living proof of my slogan “Shine for me and I’ll shine for you” and therefore my muse.
Are there some other artists that you would love to work with?
One of my favorite photographers is definitely Lindsay Adler, whom I happened to meet in the Netherlands a couple of years ago and with whom I already worked with. I also would like to work with Jessica Kobeissi, Irene Rudnyk and Benjamin Von Wong.
Have you ever been to Milan?
Yes, I’ve been to Milan with two of my models (and their parents) in 2019. My work was exhibited in the MADS Gallery Milano and we would like to see it ourselves. It was a great experience that I would like to repeat with Merlin and her parents, also because at the moment three photos of Merlin are in exhibition in the same gallery in Milan. And it would also be really cool if, when we are in Milan, we could visit your office and meet you in person.
A personal question, what is the country you love the most?
I do love Italy for different reasons: the more modern part of North Italy, including Milan, of course, but also the nice landscapes in the South of Italy, not to forget the enormous amounts of culture Italy has to offer. And in that sense, I also like Turkey, for the same reasons.
Love or fame?
Fame is relative and often short-lived. I like to be appreciated/loved for who I am as a person rather than for what you are famous for. In the end we’re all human and modesty graces man. So when I’ve to choose, I choose for love because that is pure.
What is your relationship with fashion and what is your favorite style?
I’m not the kind of guy that wants the newest fashion myself. But I do like fashion as an artform, especially high fashion with haute couture designs Beside that my most favorite styles are the Parisian, Classic, Streetwear, Retro Vintage and Trendy style.
Tell us a secret that you’re ready to share with our readers.
Haha, when I tell you a secret to share with the readers, it isn’t a secret anymore, isn’t it? I once had a photoshoot (luckily not with Merlin) where my settings in camera were way off in terms of aspect ratio. Somehow or another the settings were 16:9 and the photos were intended for Instagram, which is, as you know, 4:5. I discovered it when I got home transferring the images from my SD card to the computer. I somewhat panicked because the compositions of the photos were now destroyed when converting to 4:5, especially the portrait and close-up shots. I honestly told the particular model what had happened and in the end, I could deliver, with the help of Photoshop, 13 different, high-res images from the shoot, while the original target was five photos.
I would like to add that you never make a photo alone: without a model I couldn’t take these images and vice versa: without a photographer, a model would never have photos. So having a great collaboration, as with Merlin, is key and I cherish it with every vain in my body.
At the end of this interview, I would also like to add some words from my muse and model Merlin which she wrote especially for this publication:
“I am Merlin Sen, 14 years old and have been working with Mr. Tjeerd for more than 2 years. Our cooperation had always been good and pleasant from the start. From the beginning we made a lot of portrait photos that I am still proud of and find beautiful. When I became older and discovered the modeling world more, we also started taking fashion photos. I still have to learn a lot to be able to pose better but Mr. Tjeerd guides me with everything and I’ve learned a lot from him. It is important that you enjoy the work you do together, because then you have better results and more beautiful photos. I really like modeling work and never regretted that I started. Of course I also chose a good photographer who taught me a lot and is always nice. I hope that I can work together with Mr. Tjeerd Doosje @ studiotjeerd for many years to come and that we can take beautiful pictures together.
I want to thank The Style Researcher Magazine for publishing photos of me. I’m very proud of that. Thank you very much on behalf of me and my photographer Mr. Tjeerd Doosje.
With lots of love model Merlin Sen “
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