“This will last forever in my memory…
A man asked me to capture him and his girlfriend in front of the Washington Square Arch in New York City. I remember walking back, framing the two of them and at the same time, the man bent on one knee and asked his partner to marry him”.
Dutchman Diederick Mulder has travelled far and wide, a camera always in tow. Along the way, he’s captured some fairly special stuff. Ever since leaving on a 10-month adventure to Australia in 2011, armed with €300 and his father’s hand-me-down Sony Cybershot, Diederik has adored recording “beautiful and surprising sceneries”.
Born and raised in The Hague on the West Coast of Holland, he’s always been a creator. Reminiscing on his childhood, he tells me: “I’ve always enjoyed creating new things…gaining insight on how we bring different projects to life. As a kid, I even started pressing my own pieces of clothing with my mother. I’d obsess over the different materials and how best to use them.” This thirst for understanding later bloomed into an obsession with taking pictures. “It’s what I most love doing!”
Soon after returning from his mammoth trip Down Under, Diederik’s old man stepped up to the plate once more, gifting his son an old Asahi Pentax k1000 film camera with quite a history. “In his 20’s, my father worked as a Second Helmsman on an oil tanker out at sea, capturing all his experiences”. Since then, the fellow has continued honing his craft with superb and striking results.
Moving to the nation’s capital to chase dreams in creative art direction, Diederik has called Amsterdam home for many years now. In the hustle of the Netherlands busiest city, photography is an aid to his mental health. A cathartic process. “I’ve found collecting images and strolling through Amsterdam has a therapeutic effect on me.”
Diederik actively searches for untold stories, at times, going to great lengths to tell them. This way, he feels more connected to the city and its people – like he belongs.
Having spent 18 months living in the canal city myself, I know the hardened spirit of Amsterdammers. In winter, a simple bike ride to your local supermarket can be an almighty task! Last February, Amsterdam was hit with one of the gnarliest snowstorms in recent memory. Where most would bunker down indoors, this shooter saw an opportunity.
“It was the perfect time to capture this aspect of daily life. Snow falling, empty streets, white-covered buildings all around, people plotting their way through the driving weather. It all became part of telling that story.”
Here, you can feel the sting of the snow and the strength of the wind. You can imagine those subjected to the elements pulling their garments closer to their bodies – forging through the beautiful yet hazardous conditions.
Another standout of Diederik’s catalogue is the pictures he takes after dark. Be it a brilliantly lit street corner, the flavours of a night market or the splash of light pollution against the pavement, the Dutchman has a knack for creating a cinematic mood. “I like to capture night scenes that look different to how they usually are during the day. Small fragments of life on certain occasions…You just need to be in the right place at the right time.” There’s a superb sharpness and clarity to his night photography. Shots that appear to have been laboured over are just fleeting moments that drew him in. A nod to the Dutchman’s talent.
But don’t go assuming that Diederik only thrives in chilly conditions. He recently copped a serious dose of vitamin D while shooting across Ibiza. Usually known for its raucous clubs and round-the-clock nightlife, the island’s been flexing a different kind of muscle lately – its stunning natural beauty. “This year all the clubs are closed and there are barely any tourists around. It was an ideal situation for me to capture serene beaches, little villages and hints of tourism.” Diederik’s frames tell a rare tale of tranquillity in a place usually muddied by partygoers.
When I ask about his editing process, the photographer makes clear he’s no fan of over-editing. “I like to keep each image as close to how I saw it with my naked eye. I have the opportunity to let the viewer experience what it feels like to be at that very location…to step into that moment.”
A lot of his shots appear meticulously prepared in post. As it turns out, the dude is just a composition wizard. From curious kid to gifted photographer, it’s transformations like these we welcome with open arms. Keep exploring Diederik, continue telling stories via the click of that shutter.