“Play Me!” at Amsterdam Centraal
January 5, 2016 - single portrait
“Play Me!” says on a side of a grand piano, standing in one of the halls of Amsterdam Centraal or a central railway station. The piano is out there for everybody to play. I always thought it was a great idea to give passengers and passers-by something more than just kiosks with fast food and shops.
So, one day I took my camera and spent a few hours next to the piano, photographing players and audience, listening to music and talking to strangers. I cannot tell you how much I enjoyed the day, how many interesting individuals I have met. Like Yaël, for instance. A young man, plugged into some gadget, chatting and playing at the same time. Made me smile, so typical seemed that multi-communication nowadays. I heard Yaël playing, and then had a little chat about himself, music and photography. A 20-year old student, a wanna-be-a-photo-model (yeah, I took a mental note of that), his life packed with all kind of activities, most important among them being his girl friend. Naturally. The pictures were shown, the laughs were shared, and I felt I had known that young man for ages. By the way, when I asked Yaël if the group of young people hanging around him while and after he was playing were his friends, he said: “We are now.” Oh I liked that a lot, how total strangers meet at the piano, play it, or listen to, and they get to know each other… Yaël told me that there was a group on FB where all the players of that piano – total strangers, obviously – could get together, united by their experience: playing piano “in the street”. That needs some guts, I suppose. Well, I would need to have some, to be honest. I used to play piano for years, but then again – never played for a decade at least. Yaël and others, who played that day, were so … enthusiastic and had so much fun, no matter how their pianist skills varied, that I couldn’t resist but touched the keys when for a moment there was nobody around.
I’ve made a video “Play Me!”, with my photo impressions of that day, and it was one of my most feel-good projects of 2015. Also, meeting Yaël had a follow-up: me shooting a series of his portraits and getting into the mood for a new big project “Young Holland” (portraiture, both street and studio) with youngsters like Yaël in focus. So, thanks to a total stranger, I have now a video, a project to continue building on (the grand piano is still out there, being played every day), a photo-model and a friend.
I thought that was an appropriate story for “100 Strangers”, with its idea of “de-strange-ing” people we meet in the street, wandering with our cameras. This written on the first day of a new year, I wish all of you, who’s reading my post, to have a wonderful year full of great people and great stories. With a great follow-up, too.