Interview Ton Hendriks

For the second time in a row, Pf magazine is a media partner of the International Photo Festival Leiden. Editor-in-chief Ton Hendriks talks about the magazine and takes a preview at the participating photographers of the five-year-anniversary edition of the Photo Festival.

Pf Magazine (Professionele Fotografie) was founded in 1983 and has been in existence for 37 years. Ton Hendriks, who is a photographer himself, initially worked as a freelance author for Pf. In the past, he taught at several photo academies and in the 1980s he wrote articles for various (photo) magazines. When his predecessor, editor-in-chief Carolien Tesselhof, handed over the baton to him in 2017, Hendriks considered this a great opportunity. In his new position he shifted the focus of the magazine from applied photography to autonomous arts. Hendriks: “Just like many other photography magazines, Pf focused in part on testing cameras and giving technical information. When I became editor-in-chief, I emphasized photography as an autonomous art. Pf focuses on the individuality of the photographer and the particularity of photography and the projects themselves. We are looking for the higher segment of photography.”

Young talent

The readers of Pf are mainly ‘professional photographers’: people who take photography as a creative expression seriously. In addition, the magazine also provides a space for young talent. The ‘Debut’ section, for example, gives the floor to early-career photographers who explain how they put themselves on the market. In this way, the interview can also be a source of inspiration for others. Furthermore, there are eight portfolios in every issue of Pf that regularly highlight the works of beginning photographers. What does a photographer have to do in order to get presented in those sections themselves? Hendriks: “It is important that I get the feeling that something special is happening in the photos. They have to convey a strong distinctiveness, and the photographer must distinguish himself through great individuality.” A key aspect the editor-in-chief takes into account is the visual quality. “It does not always have to be extremely beautiful images, but they must contain a certain form of aesthetics of a minimum quality.” The quality of the content is also important: “Does it actually have a well-conceived, good, deep content? Is it not superficial? Is it genuinely a lived experience that someone is showing, or a good inquiry into societal aspects? Those two aspects, visual and content-related, are the two major pillars that we are looking for.”

The IPFL 2020

What strikes Hendriks when looking at the photographers of IPFL 2020 is the great variety of projects, ranging from autonomous to documentary. Another particularity is the international outlook. Not only Dutch photographers are among the nominated, but also participants from Stockholm, Belgium and Cologne, among others. A certain thread can be discovered among the selected photographers that is not only characteristic of the IPFL, but is often visible in contemporary photography as such. Hendriks: “You notice a very strong trend towards autonomous photography. And most young photographers nowadays are women. You can see that, for example, when looking at the prizes awarded at the Zilveren Camera.”

Authenticity and Originality

Ton Hendriks shares some tips for beginning photographers who want to apply for the International Photo Festival Leiden in the future, or who dream of a place in Pf. “Create a very strong authenticity. Do not try to imitate someone else or get into a mainstream trend.” Because almost everything has been photographed nowadays, Hendriks advises photographers to do their preliminary research carefully. This way you can prevent yourself from working within a cliché. As an example, he mentions photo series on sexuality and gender themes. “That is an important topic because it plays a relevant role in society. But I receive three, four submissions of that kind of series almost every month.” To stand out, it is therefore important to also discuss new topics. Hendriks: “Take a very close look at what has already been done in your own environment. Then look deeper for something original, so that you do not receive a rejection just because there are already ten others with the same idea.”
Ton Hendriks is editor-in-chief of Pf, Photography Magazine. On Saturday, May 9, he will attend the portfolio reviews during the International Photo Festival Leiden. Are you a photographer and do you want to receive feedback on your portfolio? Then make sure to check our website in the following weeks for more information.