Behind The Canvas: Saatchi Online Interview With Rogier Maaskant

Kiss by Rogier Maaskant

Who are you and what do you do?
I am Rogier Maaskant, I look around me and take pictures along the way.

What’s your background?
I was born and raised on the countryside and grew up in a middle-class family. There are some artistic activities in my family but not on what is called a professional level. I took a course in photography at the Royal Academy of Art in The Hague, after I’d given up my ambition to become an architect. I do get impatient with time-consuming projects, and photography makes for an interesting change: it is such a fast medium. After I was sacked during my internship at a construction site (which was absolutely not my fault btw), the decision to become a photographer was quick and easily made.

When and why did you begin to shoot?
I must have been around 7 or 8 when my dad gave me a kind of Instamatic camera, to play around with. Guess I still like to do that.


Coney Island

What equipment do you shoot with and why?
Last few years I shoot mainly digital. I used two bulky Fuji 6×9 cameras a lot that still are my favorites because they are completely mechanical. I like that. They are very fast to operate. Except when you have to change a role of film of course. Today the 220 rolls became a bit too expensive for me to shoot with at the rate I use to do. A pity, but in the end it is not about what you take pictures with, but what you take pictures of.

What role does the photographer have in society or do you perceive it this way?
My idea is that the ‘role’ I play is to point out things that surprise me, that seem important enough to look at it longer than an instant. It could be triggered by a particular sensitivity for a certain kind of beauty or by an intriguing moment or person. If I am touched, or mildly mesmerized by him, her or something, why wouldn’t others be?

Please name one of your most admired photographers…
At this point in time I don’t really have one photographer that I admire so much that I would mention him or her in particular here. In my early days there’s been a whole range: from Sophie Calle and Breitner to De Keyzer, Van der Elsken, Salgado, Reims, Cartier-Bresson, Sternfield, Gursky, Winogrand, Friedlander and Parr (especially his book Bad Weather, which in my opinion still is the best book he has done).

Describe an inspiring moment or incident in your life.
What a difficult question this is. There’s lots. What about this I’view.

What is the most dominant memory of your childhood?
My almost drowning when I was 2 ½ years of age. At the same time this is my first memory of life. Funny; I almost died and still I can remember every detail as vivid as it was only yesterday. Without any picture of the event.


Aaron Hall, R&B Singer

What do you enjoy about the process?
Of photographing you mean? The playfulness definitely! And the surprise of the magic of photography to show things almost more detailed than you can see in reality. It is a bit like a play on a stage: the ‘story of life’ becomes condensed and magnified, so there’s a chance for all to relate to it.

What themes do you pursue?
Hmm… I’ve been wondering about that for a long time. Maybe the same answer I’ve mentioned before: to play. Maybe in some way the wish to connect also. Furthermore I’ve always been drawn to images of people that are alone. That is a representation of me myself, I suppose.

How has your practice changed over time?
Maybe I’ve been too much influenced by the idea that you have to be ‘original’ to really make a contribution of any importance to the world of (art)photography as we know it. That made me insecure about lots of things – not only photography – which would be really devastating for the creative process if it plays too big a role in your practice. But then again: some insecurity keeps you alert to other possibilities than the ones you are familiar with. In recent years I found out that there is more out there than photography, that I could be good at. I like writing, drawing, poetry and movie-making. Ideas keep popping up in my head that are worth investigating.

Downtown Manhattan


What makes a great image?
I. An interested, intrigued, pleased, and sometimes annoyed or shocked viewer. II. A great story to tell along with a not that grand image. III. An image never seen before.

Your images are very intimate. How do you get close to your subjects?
I doubt if my images are intimate at all. Most of the photographs are ‘stolen’ moments. Or, I try to get close to people, just by making very direct contact. Saying ‘hello’. Or, with a smile. Sometimes only by looking someone in the eye after I’ve made the picture. To make sure they are fine with it. It is not always as easy as it sounds, but I’ve only been threatened twice, and got away with it unhurt.

Have you ever offended anyone?
I might have offended one or two persons, yes.

What research do you do? Do you find that the research is done in the process of a photographer’s work?
Not in my work, there’s no real research involved in what I do. All research is part of the act of photography. Maybe my most thorough research is through means of introspection. Which will stay with me a lifetime.

What is your dream project?

My aim right now is to be honest as possible. What happens next I don’t know now, and that perhaps makes it the most exiting project. Even though I do have a few plans, they usually are transformed by impulsive actions and unexpected moments.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
Always look at both sides before you cross a street.

What lies ahead for Rogier Maaskant?
IMHO I have no clue. Make some movies maybe? And selling pictures via this terrific website of course. I’ve been waiting for over 10 years to not only show my work to a bigger audience, but also to make it available for anyone who might get touched by it in some way.

What wouldn’t you do without?
My son’s smiles and jokes.

What is your favorite color?
That must be a palette!

More work by Rogier Maaskant here …




  1. Ploppi says:

    Where is the canvas ?

  2. Ruben says:

    Great work!

  3. Project M says:

    Great interview, very inspiring.

  4. I love the interview – I’m so inspired now.

  5. Nice of you guys to say these things!
    Thanks a lot.
    And @Ploppi: you can order most of them on canvas.
    I am not that good a painter..

  6. BJ Tuininga says:

    Love your work and the interview!

  7. Anna says:

    Great interview :) love the pics of course x

  8. Louis says:

    These pictures are incredible. Visceral, tactile, intelligent and immediate.


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