bieke depoorter – i am about to call it a day

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EPF 2012 Finalist


Bieke Depoorter

‘I Am About To Call It A Day’

play this essay


‘I am about to call it a day’ is a sequel on ‘Ou Menya’, a project where I entered the intimacy of families in Russia, while spending one night with them.
This time, I have travelled through the United States. It is a series of portraits of places and people where I spent the night while passing through. I meet my family-for-the night on the streets. The social contact, the short and intense encounters and the mutual trust for them to take me into their most intimate privacy is an important element in my work.



Bieke Depoorter (1986) received her master’s degree in photography from the Royal Academy of Fine Arts (KASK) in Ghent in 2009. She is mostly working on autonomous projects. In search of family intimacy, she spends the night at people’s houses. This year her first book ‘Ou Menya’ was published. Since 2011 Bieke is member of the Paris-based photo agency/collective Tendance Floue.


145 Responses to “bieke depoorter – i am about to call it a day”

  • You were still a blue collar news guy in the sun……. there is no blue collar for most as you know quite well it is a different game.

    Jim they just make choices good, bad, indifferent that you were not willing to make. Photographers aspiring to be photographers are a minority most people just work and do all sorts of stuff.

    Despite all that Jim for many it is not about “free” they do it and make money and pay bills in other ways. They just enjoy doing it and feel that they can make changes no matter how small. So what you lost a bit of a cash cow so did the farrier.

  • The problem with the “free” model is…”

    The free market. Photographs, obviously, have little or no value because people do not like to look at them. It’s clear that those who publish newspapers, magazines, and websites only plaster their publications with so many photos because they are romantics who hate to see the old ways die. Publishing all the photos they do, and publishing them so prominently, no doubt costs them two thirds or so of their potential customers. Fortunately for us, these publishers are just terrible business people who throw away tons of money just by publishing our photography. If they had to pay photographers like they pay everyone else, they’d be out of business yesterday and would have to deploy the golden parachute. But most people obviously would prefer looking at black text on a white background for their publications, with maybe the occasional ESPN-like motion graphic on a web site. And it’s not like writers get paid all that much either. The free market speaks and says that no one cares about content so it pays the salespeople, and glorified salespeople (executives) accordingly.

    Photographers aspiring to be photographers are a minority

    It doesn’t seem like that from where I sit. Just about every other person I meet is an aspiring photographer. Why just the other day I met a wanna be photographer who told me a story about how he was walking down the street and came up on a fashion shoot. He reportedly asked the art director if he could take a few photos for his portfolio. The art director reportedly encouraged him and promised to credit him in the publication if they used any of his photos. Such a nice art director. Helping the poor photographer guy out for nothing. And harming his magazine’s circulation by publishing photos in the first place.

  • Some will never be harmed by the prevalent “new free style” photography. Anyway it isn’t just particular to photography big chain stores in Europe selling all electronic household electronics so cheap the old style small shop is being slowly strangled as it can’t keep up with prices. It’s prevalent in every market many including me shop for cheap hoping for quality. “Pan para hoy hambre para mañana”.
    But anyway I’m sure some will survive whatever happens… Look at Sally Mann I’m sure she will still successfully sell all her latest work when it finally appears. In fact I’ve just read somewhere she will be soon pushing her memoirs “If memory serves” based on her Harvard Lectures and of course it will be a sellout.

  • Jeez mw most of the kids i have been associated with of late like the idea of sportsmen, lawyers executives, millionaires, doctors etc they know there is no money in the arts well ofk weddings if you are really good and bored

  • even my plumber knows better ….then again he smokes big fat cigars on the job

  • “Photographs, obviously, have little or no value because people do not like to look at them.”

    Hardly true.. people love to look at photographs, look at booming instagram, flickr, tumblr and what not.. everybody shooting and showing what they got… what most people do not like is to pay for looking at them, that’s quite different..

  • I think, Eva, that the reality with all of these free photo sharing sites is not that people like to look at photos, but just like to shoot photos. Which, I think, is the real problem. Photos have simply become just more noise for most people.

  • I like the photos, very much DAH. The concept of the book is very creative, of course. I still don’t like the concept, though. I much more like the set in stone nature of the traditional photo book. It is just more “complete” in my mind. But, I’m a pretty linear thinking person, and don’t really like randomness.

    My wife, though, loved the mix and match openness of the book and spent some time on numerous occasions rearranging and recombining the photos.

  • Well, Eva, I answered a question that appears to have been edited. Well, you know what you posted the first time. :)

  • But it’s all our own fault. There’s nothing to stop us from organizing our own little real print club where once a month we each exchange with each other by snail post our most significant photo of the month. Slow compared to instagram, but wouldn’t it be lovely! Something great to look forward to. These days everything is so recent and hurried, always looking for the next kick.


    well you are in good company…Koudelka felt the same…ripped the sheets out and just looked at the pictures…neither of you want to “read” it as a novela, which is of course my intent…but that’s cool…we knew of course many would be inclined to do what both Koudelka and you have done…however, we sure were not “random” though in the way this was created…Eva and Bryan and i locked ourselves down for a month to very carefully look at the “muses” and the sequences and the interplay…totally linear is what i am not but fair enough that you are…by the way, Div Soul surely is not linear either…

    totally my fault that Eva deleted her comment which she did when i said to her ” i wish you had asked my opinion”…didn’t mean for her to delete…i might not agree, as i often do not with you, but heaven forbid if i would ever delete anyone’s comment…Eva was mostly asking not only for your opinion, but really mostly to find out if you had even gotten the book…we had no way of knowing… i would not have “begged the question” so to speak…i would have waited…to see if you would even ever acknowledge receipt of the book…so that is that…

    now my question is this…if i set up a paywall for buck99 again and do something like “Harvey goes to Bangkok” will you come along for the ride? Or have you had enough? hey i am just trying to get a paying job!!

    thanks for taking a look Jim…and tell your wife she is doing the right thing…never hurts to say that anyway, right??

    cheers, david

  • You can delete your comments? Man, if I would have known you could delete comments I could have avoided a lot of grief. How is that done?

  • MW

    oh we would give you the secret code, but we like to watch you suffer…in new york next week..maybe we meet?

  • Well as far as I am concerned you can even make it 4Bucks99, I will follow you digitally to Bangkok

  • Photos have simply become just more noise for most people………………… at least if you are on a S&M site and an associate the photos are more than just photography, there is a real sense of purpose just like the corvette club

  • lightstalkers and a a heap of other sites allow deletion and editing of comments. The results are quite interesting to the level of hilarious beats the train of thought responses. If people delete and resubmit it all becomes a bit more interactive………..

  • David, at only a buck99 I’ll follow you anywhere! Heck, I paid Mediastorm $1.99 for their 20 minute films, riding along with you is a lot more fun. Hope you do it. I’m definitely down with that.


    i do get behind in emails, but Anton discovered the other day that my email system was, as he put it, “totally fucked up”…somehow i had two address slots..which meant i missed a whole lot of emails…basically i had a 50/50 chance of seeing any given email…i have had no problems with text however, so i am not sure what is happening to you on that one…


    i think creatives are giving away a lot and at the same time selling certain things at premium prices…similar to the music industry problems and solutions….yet i did take care of my family and put my kids through college with assignments from newspapers and magazines…that would be more difficult today, but it was never easy…there were never assignments for everyone…just some…and there are magazine assignments now…just fewer days…..what are gone for the most part in the U.S., as Jim correctly points out, are the plethora of newspaper jobs that used to be around…those were great jobs for many, and most are gone now….

    the days of “one stop shopping” are over…now every photographer must set up his/her own business..all of my peer group are earning a living in photography…shooting, selling prints, book publishing etc…and i am not talking about the well established, i am talking about the young ones as well…

    what has value has changed…photogs used to be paid a “day rate” for services rendered….now the payment comes more from the created work itself…the work as an object in and of itself….for other artists this has always been the case….

    i would absolutely not worry for one second that the talented will only be hobbyists i.e. not earning a living…..although the fact that photography is my hobby is something i treasure the most…i take pictures for fun, or to remember something…anything that comes out of it beyond that is just icing on the cake…

    cheers, david

  • David none of my friends /peers are photographers or artists most work in a variety of professions from full time gamblers to tree sitting protesters. Sure I know people in the arts but rarely associate with them on a daily basis.

    “now the payment comes more from the created work itself…the work as an object in and of itself….for other artists this has always been the case….” welcome to the world of highs and low esteem for those that haven’t been here. It is a wonderful ride

  • welcome to the world of highs and low esteem for those that haven’t been here. It is a wonderful ride….
    Amen to that.


    it’s 6am here and i am just on my first cup of coffee…Sunday morn…should be sleeping i guess, like everybody else…yet alas, this is when i think…that does not mean i am really “sharp” at all…anyway boys the line you have both employed here: “welcome to the world of highs and low esteem for those that haven’t been here. It is a wonderful ride….”…. i guess i am too fogged to get it…can either one of you articulate just a bit more on what you mean? not for, or against, just don’t understand your meaning…

  • On one level David
    ……..spend two intense years putting an exhibition together a lonely ride at times and it bombs.

    ……..spend years putting a exhibition together find that you have moved on as an artist end up with nothing

    ………have a great show sells well but figure that it is a lie conceptually

    …produce a great artwork love it… nobody there but yourself ….doesn’t matter

    ….run out of money work as a laborer

    ….prefer laboring to art

  • spend time in a mental desert stare at stone

  • take up photography integrate it into other work grow bored with it very quickly despite enjoying it

  • pick up a double edged sword and lick it

  • end up with a huge body of work

  • yep it ha some lows but when it clicks it clicks then a shudder, a crack, a smile and back to one eye open one eye dreaming


    thank you it…that is why i just spent the last hour in the garden…getting out a few weeds..of course i have found, by leaving some of the weeds alone, that beautiful blooms come off of some of these “weeds”…and the roses will cut the hell out of you….

  • David, I think the ultimate solution depends on the creation of a “new economy” for micro payments to creatives directly from those who actually want their stuff, like Mediastorm is trying to do with their $1.99 films. The problem is that most of us don’t have access to the technology that Mediastorm has put together to manage those payments. There is a business model for someone, perhaps Paypal, to more seamlessly make such a subscription system widely available on the web. The obstacle to this is the cost per transaction demanded by the processor. When you are talking about a couple of bucks per purchase, it doesn’t take much of a processing fee to make the concept unprofitable.

    I really believe, though, that future success for creatives will involve selling directly to the consumer, in whatever form that takes.

  • that accounts for the good seven years as an artist

  • ………have a great show sells well but figure that it is a lie conceptually …………………..that was probably the worst part

  • JIM ..

    i agree totally….that IS the new model…or some variation are correct, not everyone on their own will be up to it, nor be able to make that work…the nature of coops/agencies will have to change from distribution centers to production centers in every sense…

    paypal does make many things possible…micropayments are fine if you have lots of them…the overhead to produce something of value for 10 people is exactly the same as it is to produce something for 1 million people…this is the beauty of the “new way”…wise use of social networking allows these numbers to become realities….if you build the field, they will come…

    it will take the next generation to think about the “big picture” not just the “picture”…they will do it …they always do…

  • In some ways related to the above topic, makes for an interesting read:

    (Jim, thanks for your answer.. I indeed was curious to know your thoughts about the book.. and if you got it.. )

  • Ah, the secret code. What mischief one could make. What laughs could be had. In an alternate universe anyway. Regarding NY, sure, I’d love to meet. Let’s chat details on Skype when convenient.

    It’s great when artists can make money off their work, greater still when they can do it without compromise. Historically, that’s pretty rare, isn’t it? Certainly not the norm. The problem with having a position is too often having to maintain, if not defend it. Seems like the greatest are often a bit out of step with the times, their work unpopular because it’s different, so other ways of generating income are necessary. Just thinking of a few of my art heroes; Gauguin, Van Gogh, Henry Miller, William Faulkner, Mozart — they had patrons, took academic jobs, did film work, took on students and/or were constantly in debt. Of course there are always contemporaries to the greats making tons of money off their work alone. Some remembered, most largely forgotten. Salieri, for example, was financially far more successful than Mozart. Every era has its Danielle Steeles, Thomas Kinkades and the like raking it in while an unknown number of better artists do well to just get by. That’s not to say, of course, that every era is the same. Each has, no doubt, its own challenges. The biggest one I see for young people here in the U.S. these days is the student loan travesty. Student loans have effectively morphed into a system of indentured servitude. Forty thousand dollars is fairly typical debt for four years of college. No more taking a few years off and kicking around Europe after graduation and trying to find yourself as an artist, not unless daddy is a hedge fund manager. The pressure to compromise, to be popular, to get a serious job and make money is presumably more intense for those with mountains of debt with onerous interest charges.

  • I’m back in the hospital, waiting to go into emergency surgery number two, overall surgery number three. Have fun out there.

  • Explanation can be found on my blog.

  • I think it all comes down to how driven one is and of course being slightly unhinged throughout it all, just enough not to realize that most sane people would never try the creative arts as a career. Apart from the fact that it has to be such an utter acute compulsion driving you on never bailing out because we all know deep down that jump across the abyss when it’s successful is so utterly bewitching.


    oh my…why “emergency”? will check your blog…all of us sending positive vibes of every kind in your direction….


    you both got it right

  • Here in oz other than the 30,000 debt one of the major problems faced by the young is studio space with all the technologies that were available at art schools. This may be as simple as a nude model or as complex as a 3D printer depending on what one does. Sure technology hs opened new avenues that never existed but lage scale work is still costly to create. Hence we end up with lots of work in progress

  • Repost from over the in the “Burn Diary” thread, where I’m not sure anyone but CIVI saw it….

    Not sure where the general party room is atm, seems like everyone’s over hangin’ talking about bieke’s essay…


    TOM HYDE; sent an email for you, did you get it?

    So what is everyone doing? CIVI, you haven’t been singing! Panos is posting videos (of course), Akaky waxed poetic on something (I have to go back and read it, although I did notice the a positive spin on health news and a new camera (and I got a GF1, are we related?).

    BILL, glad you’re making it through – have been following your news, but not commenting much. Hopefully the positives build up a little more each day.

    DAH – burn university? Also have a question for you, email or skype next week sometime?

    and now the rainstorm has passed and the sun is going down, and I believe I’ll go play flaneur in my own city….after a glass of wine.

    good light, all

    Bill, read the blog, glad to hear it wasn’t as urgent as first thought, sending good thoughts, prayers, and karma your eway in hopes that everything is better soonest.



    this is very strange when i get in a comment here from you under Bieke essay if i got an email from Tom Hyde or not!! pretty funny…well, the answer is no…but how in the world did Young Tom Hyde go to you to get to me? hmmmmmmm..anyway, have Tom send again please…i had some very weird problems with my email until two days ago..

    BurnDiary and BurnUniversity coming up….

    no more kegs!!!

    cheers, david

  • Ah, david, that was my question to Tom – I posted over in the other forum, which seems to have had no activity, and reposted here since it seems everyone was conversing in here (even thoguh it should be for biekes essay). That was me speaking to Tom, for the email. Sorry to confuse.

    Indeed, no more kegs! Do want to talk with you about burn university – email or skype? Just a few questions and perhaps some ideas.

  • Bieke is 25, almost 26 (on 29 August), not 23.

  • I am back home on a clear liquid diet. Haven’t had a bite of solid food since Saturday morning and won’t get another for two days yet. I am taking a load of antibiotics in the hope it will clear up the abscesses and the third, emergency surgery, that I almost got subjected to Sunday will never be necessary. I am optimistic, but no guarantee and won’t know until after I get another CAT Scan Monday morning.

  • Dellicson,

    you manage to read that but did not bother to read the rest?


    david alan harvey
    July 18, 2012 at 7:57 am

    yes, i felt very very good about this year’s nominees…well balanced…correction on the age of Bieke…she is 26 not 23….

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