Philosophy – View on life

Thanks to my grandfather Emile van Lennep my name is Emilie and thanks to him I am photographer.
He gave me his old camera, a Minolta with a beautiful 50mm 1.4 lens and a portrait lens.
During my studies in visual anthropology at Amsterdam University I started to photograph more and more.

I also learned an important lesson in life from my grandfather.
It happened during a discussion about the cult film “Kids” by Harmony Korine in 1995.
The film is about a group of footloose young people in New York.
It is a raw and realistically filmed portrait full of drink, drugs and sex.

At a certain point a boy infects a young girl with HIV/AIDS.
I told him how people were so shocked that they walked out of the cinema.
And I too, a 22 year old student, saw the rest of the film with distaste.

My 80 year old grandfather was not shocked. His analysis of the film was wise and powerful. He was more forgiving than I. He did not judge these young people, but engaged in their world, and placed their behaviour in a broader perspective.
His wisdom and the fact that all his life he had felt engaged with what was going on in the world, still inspires me.

I seek through my photography and projects to understand the world from a non-judgmental perspective of sincere interest and engagement, exploring and looking to the larger picture.

My studies in anthropology influence the way I work as an artist. As an anthropologist ‘going native’ my goal is to discover the reality of the world I examine. Virtually an impossible goal, because reality consists of many truths. But nevertheless I want to get close and capture the essence.

Which method best suits the story that I want to tell? What type of camera will I use? What is its effect on the story and on the people I will photograph?

And how do you use this material? These are the questions I ask myself.

“The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away.”
- Pablo Picasso