Photography Projects by Karin van Mierlo
This month’s interview is especially beautiful for me since the person being interviewed is not only an amazing, unique photographer, she is also my number one example in life. The person sharing her story today with you is Karin van Mierlo, an artist, a teacher but above all, my mom.
In life, sometimes things come to you, arrive on your path, without you even realizing you were looking for that specific thing. For Karin, this happened with photography. She always had the feeling that she didn’t choose photography, photography chose her.
Back in the day at the art academy in The Netherlands, Karin was a student to become a filmmaker. Little did she know that this wasn’t the right path for her.
“The moment I walked into a darkroom for the first time is ingrained in my mind. It felt magical. And even though it’s more than 30 years ago the feeling of being mesmerized by photography has stayed with me to this day.”
My mom was always a searcher. Looking for that one thing that would fulfill her creatively and spiritually. She was never really interested in an education that would give her security in the job market. Instead, she was searching for that one thing she was born to do!
That day she walked into the darkroom for the first time, Karin knew she found it, or more accurately, it found her.
“It grabbed me and never let go. I could feel a shift inside me and I knew I had come home. Yes, it sounds a little dramatic but it’s what happened. It was a moment. And isn’t that what photography is all about?”
“I didn’t choose photography. Photography chose me.“
My mom has been a photographer for over 30 years. I was born and grew up seeing her and her camera as an extension of her arm. Multiple times I woke up with a lens in my face, her taking pictures of me while sleeping. Throughout all these years she always had little obsessions, little projects.
“Actually, I´m a little worried when I don’t have an obsession! The word obsession doesn’t always have a positive connotation but in my book and many other artists it has. It means you’re swept away by something you want to express.”
Usually, Karin has a few different photography projects going on at the same time. Some are restricted in time, like taking photos from the view from her cabin while crossing the Atlantic Ocean.
Another beautiful and emotional project she did was the series she made during the last 2 months of her sister’s life, my aunts’ life. We took care of her together with all her loved ones. My mom took a photo every day during this period. They could be really small moments but also big moments.
“I needed to do that in order to keep a connection with a vital part of who I am.”
Other projects she works on over time, there is no specific beginning or end in time. The passenger on planes and trains is an example of that. These moments just come to her. She doesn´t sit and think of a new project to start. No, she sits in the train and sees this image in front of her and gets inspired. This inspiration starts a theme, a thread and Karin gets very focused on this one thing.
“One common theme or obsession I seem to have is the passing of time. “
Years ago, when Karin still had her own studio, she would buy a bunch of flowers and photograph them every day until they completely perished.
And not so long ago she totally fell in love with a half-eaten pear that emerged in the kitchen of the house she shared. To make sure no one would throw it in the garbage she took it to her room and hid it under some papers.
Every day she would take the pear out to the kitchen because the light was more beautiful there and take some shots of the perishing of the pear. She kept that pear in her room till it was completely shriveled.
“I also photographed my daughter in circumstances most parents wouldn’t. Like when she was crying or feeling sad. Would be interesting to get her perspective on this ;-)”
Well, I want to thank you for this Mom! Actually, I´m very grateful for this.
When I turned 18 my mom gave me two Photo Albums, one from when I was from 0 to 9 years old and the other from 10 to 18 years old. My mom documented my life so beautifully and truthfully and in such a unique way that I will treasure these books forever.
“The spine of that vision was already there.”
And it´s not only the level of photography that’s spot on. The emotion with which Karin photographs gives a certain depth to her photo’s. It’s her signature, her vision. And it has been her vision for the last 30 years. Karin’s craft has deepened over the years and her vision got sharpened. Her voice has become clearer. But the seed of what she wants to express was there from the beginning.
“So we grew and evolved together but funny enough the other day I was looking at a photo I took while I was still a photography student and realized I could make that exact same picture today. I guess it has to do with my voice and vision as a photographer. The spine of that vision was already there. As the core of who you are is there the minute you take your first breath.”