In our local life posts we ask locals from all kinds of cities about their city favourites. Today we asked photographer Iskandar Kley about his favourite spots in Amsterdam and his second favourite city: Paris. Iskandar Kley is a passionate photographer with a love for black and white and a unique vision on the world around him. It is his unique vision that caught our interest. Time to sit down and ask him about his passion, Amsterdam and Paris.
ISKANDAR AND HIS PASSION FOR PHOTOGRAPHY
FH: When did you started to get interested in photography?
IK: “I was about seven years old, my dad had his own photography club with their own DOKA darkroom. I was impressed with the black and white pictures he took home with him.
It was around that time that the photography book ‘The family of man’ caught my eye as well. This book, coming from an exposition in the Museum of Modern Art in 1955, contains 500 black and white pictures showing different kinds of perspectives on the world. The big and known photographers of that time are represented in this book. And to me, those photographers are still a part of the best photographers in the world.”
FH: What’s in a perfect picture?
IK: “There is no exact answer to this question, in my opinion. I visited a lecture of Magnum photographer Carl de Keyzer a few years ago. At the end of his reading there was some time left for questions. A student of the Photography Academy asked the question: “When is someone a good photographer?”. Carl took a moment to let that question sink in and eventually answered: “If the picture shows what the person behind the camera sees.” The answer to the question seems simple yet it carries a lot of truth for me.”
FH: What photo or photo series are you most proud of taking?
IK: “I am always developing my skills as a photographer, getting closer one click at the time to the photo I want to create. Of course there are a few pictures that are very valuable to me. Amongst them are the pictures I made in the eighties of The Rolling Stones and Chet Baker. As is the street photography I did in Tokyo and the black and white photos of my twin daughters.”
WATCHING PEOPLE GO BY IN AMSTERDAM
FH: How would you describe life in Amsterdam?
IK: “I am born in Amsterdam and I’m not planning to leave my city in the future. During 1965, when I was seven, I wandered around with my friends discovering every corner of Amsterdam. It is because of this kind of exploring that Amsterdam is tied to my soul. A lot has changed in Amsterdam during the past decades. Some changes aren’t my favourite, but I guess this is what happens when you get older and time catches up with you. I try to accept the changes in this city by seeing it as an evolution in time. Amsterdam became like a child to me, sometimes the wrong kind of stuff happens but eventually you will love the city even more because you spend your life together. Luckily, I still know where to find my most favourite places.”
FH: What are your favourite lunch spots in Amsterdam?
IK: “My favourite lunch spot is Café Marcella. The café is located near my house on the Amstelveld. All kinds of people are spending their time here. I love to sit down with my newspaper over there, get myself a cup of coffee and watch the people go by.
I am also the lucky owner of a garden subscription at the Hortus Botanicus. Sometimes I’m joking to my girlfriend: “Shall we go to our backyard?” After spending time in the Hortus, it is also very nice to have lunch over here as well.”
FH: What is your favourite restaurant to have dinner in Amsterdam?
IK: “For years I am a big fan of having dinner at restaurant Bordewijk at the Noordermarkt. Another favourite is Trattoria That’s Amore at the Vijzelgracht. They serve simple yet delicious Italian food.”
FIFTY TIMES IN PARIS
FH: What is it that makes Paris so special?
IK: “I was fifteen when I visited Paris for the first time with my best friend. While arriving at Gare du Nord the first fragrances of Paris started to enter our noses. We arrived in a completely different world, especially during that time. We took the first metro we found, coincidentally hopping off at Cartier Latin and searched for the cheapest hotel to stay at. The hotel we found was located at the Rue de Buci, a messy street during the early seventies. Nowadays it is one of the fanciest streets of Paris. What can I say, it was love at first sight. The evenings and nights were filled with café visits, the mornings with waking up in a hotel room with four different types of flower wallpaper. During the day we would wander around the city where everything was new to us. We’d walk along the Seine where we started to see what a true romantic setting was. Three years ago I visited Paris with my girlfriend. In the evening we stood on a bridge at Ile de la Cite and there it was again: that magic feeling.
I think I visited Paris fifty times since that first time with my best friend. Nowadays I still enjoy the same parts of the city as I used to when I was fifteen. But I also enjoy the beautiful museums that Paris has to offer. One on the top of my to-visit list is the Henri Bresson Foundation. Unfortunately, the museum was closed the last times I visited Paris. But I have to see this photographers work. Because seeing photoprints in real life are a whole different experience than seeing pictures in a photobook.”
FH: On which terrace in Paris do you like to spend the whole day?
IK: “When I visit Paris with my girlfriend we go to Jardin du Luxembourg. But before we do so, we buy the finest French cheeses and a bottle of Sancerre. Then we sit down in one of the famous green metal chairs in the garden and watch the children for hours while they’re playing with their miniature sailboats sailing the pond. The jardin is as it was 45 years ago.
I also like to spend my time on a terrace at Place Dauphine after a busy day in Paris. The local Parisians are still spending their time here as well. The place is still a bit undiscovered, at least it seems like this in my head.”
FH: What is your favourite restaurant to have dinner in Paris?
IK: “I can’t name one specific restaurant in Paris that is my favourite. There is a restaurant that we visited more than once because it’s a nice place with kind waiters and good food. But it isn’t really that special to mention its name. If you want to discover a nice restaurant in Paris, you just have to see if there is a line outside. If you’re somewhat more on a budget it is also really nice to have a royal lunch in Paris. The menu during the day is a bit more affordable than during the night. If you want to find a good lunch place, you have to look where the office people go. They know where to find good food.
It may sound as a cliché, but I just like tables with white cloths, a waiter at age in a white shirt and a black apron. This is an image that, in my opinion, may last forever.”
Thank you to Iskandar Kley for your time to answer our questions and sharing your beautiful work with us. All images are under the copyright of Iskandar Kley and can’t be used, reproduced op copied without written permission of the photographer.