Exclusive Interview with Demi Cauwenbergh

We had the honor to interview exclusively with the photographer Demi Cauwenbergh, winner of the Rotterdam Photo Best Exhibition Award. A collection of self-portraits that she have made over the course of 5 years, and it is still ongoing. she started making self-portraits in 2017 as a way to be really personal.

We had the honor to interview exclusively with the photographer Demi Cauwenbergh, winner of the Rotterdam Photo Best Exhibition Award.

A collection of self-portraits that she have made over the course of 5 years, and it is still ongoing. she started making self-portraits in 2017 as a way to be really personal.

Can you tell us a little more about yourself? How did you get interested in photography?

My name is Demi Cauwenbergh, I was born in Mechelen, Belgium on the 26th of June, making me 24 years old today. I currently am a full-time photographer, simultaneously taking professional commissions and working on my art. Next to this I’m also occupied with getting to know graphic design and I recently finished a yoga teacher training, I hope to be a part-time teacher soon.

As a child I was already very infatuated with everything creative: drawing, painting, theatre, music… and finally: photography. I got interested in photography when I was about 12 years old. My parents bought a new compact camera for themselves and gave me their old one. I took this compact camera with me everywhere I went. I started arranging little “photoshoots” with my friends from school. My mom had PhotoShop Elements on her computer at the time, which I already used to edit the photo’s I made. When my grandfather noticed how much I loved taking photos with this little compact camera, he gave me my first DSLR, which only boosted my interest in photography. So much that at 15 years old, I started studying photography in high school at ColomaPLUS in Mechelen, Belgium, near my hometown. I had great teachers who really helped me on my way of finding my own voice. After graduating from high school I had my first exhibition. I was (very proud to be) part of a project called “Night Watch”, a project for young artist in which the selected group of artists could take over the museum FOMU Antwerp for a night. In the weeks leading up to the actual exhibition we were coached and challenged. Being a part of this project really made me realize that my heart was at art photography and that this was what I wanted to do. At the same time I also started on a Bachelors degree at art school Sint-Lukas Brussels, but I decided to drop out after a mere 6 months, when an emerging depression stood between me and my studies. I never returned to college to finish my studies. Instead, after a break from photography mainly caused by my depression and how insecure this made me feel about my work, I started to follow my own path, experimenting with and further discovering photography on my own terms. I rediscovered my love for photography. I started making self-portraits in which I express myself.

Your project is purely introspective? What was the reason for taking the decision to start this project?

I never made a conscious decision to start this project and carry it on for a long time. It’s something that just sort of overcame me, it all happened in a very natural way. Nevertheless there are a few key moments and themes that influenced the direction of the project. I started making self-portraits in 2017, I discovered that self-portraits allowed me to be really personal. Carefully I started experimenting with how I could use self-portraits to channel my own thoughts and emotions. I now see this as the start of the project. In 2019 lies another key moment of the project. In 2018 I had a relapse of depression that I had overcome a year before that. I was so ashamed of my relapse, I decided to keep it a secret. I was doing so well before and I was afraid that I’d disappoint the people most important to me, so I didn’t tell anyone that I relapsed. I kept this up until August 2019, in this month I tried to overdose and ended up on the ER. The day after I tried overdosing, is when I started taking pictures again after a long time of barely making anything. A series I call “Hartenleed” came to existence, out of the realization that I should open up about what I was experiencing, but it was too painful to do it in words, so my first step was making photographs. Doing this ultimately helped me on my way of opening up and fully recovering as a result. Photography had a big part in my recovery, and my depression and the recovery was the main theme of my work for a long time. Naturally, my recovery also became a key moment for my photography. I felt like it was time to also shift the focus of my work, but one thing was certain: I did not want to stop making self-portraits and being personal. I started to work around several themes, but the most important one is femininity; the way I experience my femininity, as I believe that every person has a different interpretation of what femininity means, and next to that I also play with my feminine innocence while simultaneously portraying the discovery of my own sensuality. I look for the limits of sensuality; can I make sensual photographs without nudity and can I make photographs where I’m (partly) nude without them being sensual? At times I combine these themes with a sense of absurdity or surrealism, I look to raise slight confusion, for example: biting into an orange in an unconventional way while staring into the camera dead serious (Triptych “Eating an Orange”). I also sometimes still reach for the darker parts of my existence, as I still bear a certain fragility as a result of the things that I’ve been through and this still affects me at times. Other themes are fleeting thoughts that I want to delve into. When you put my self-portraits from over the years together, it becomes a story; you can see the changes in not only my appearance, but also in my mindset. I don’t plan to stop making self-portraits anytime soon, and I’m curious to see what I and my work will evolve to. I think it will be interesting to one day have a ton of self-portraits, all portraying different parts of my life.

I interpret that for you photography is something else. Let me ask you what photography is for you?

Photography for me is rooted deeply in communication. I find photography is particularly useful when you aren’t able to bring certain feelings into words. I often feel that I struggle to explain things that I’m feeling, and that is when I like to use photography. I try to create an atmosphere that when I look at the final picture, the feeling I get from looking at it mirrors the emotion that I’m trying to capture.

How would you define your general style photography? How do you get such a personal style?

I don’t really know how I would call my style, and it also fluctuates. Melancholic vintage surrealism, maybe? My style came to be out of the experiences I’ve told you about earlier, so out of a lot of misery at a young age. That may sound a little tragic, but I’m not sad about it. I see it as a positive thing now, because I’m happy with my style. Might as well turn that tragedy into something good! As for the absurdism in some of my photo’s, I like to confuse and make you think about the image a bit longer.

Describe your ideal photographic situation. Why and when do you decide to do a self-portrait?

Ideas mostly come to me in the moment. I seldom have a plan that I came up with days or weeks beforehand. Sometimes something just comes to me and when that happens I also have to work it out immediately, so the initial spark of the idea doesn’t fade away. There are a lot of things that can inspire me. Sometimes it’s an emotion that I’m feeling at that moment, other times it could be something (a flower, a song, a quote, a person…) that reminds me of past experiences. Other times a picture just comes to mind and I have to try it out, sometimes the result is something really close to what I had in mind and sometimes I end up with something completely different. But also the way the light looks on particular days may inspire me. I like soft, dreamy lighting, so when I notice that the light is the way that I prefer, I do make a special effort to get inspiration flowing by walking, reading, thinking about my current life situation, looking at art of all sorts…

Your portraits are deeply personal. When and how did you first begin using photography to process your life experiences?

In 2017 I first started making self-portraits. At the time, I was just experimenting with how I could use self-portraits. I already had a history of depression then, so I did already implement my bad mental health experiences in my photography, making melancholic, dark black-and-white photographs. But it was in 2019, after the suicide attempt that I’ve mentioned earlier, that I made the conscious decision to start documenting my emotions through photography for a longer time. I thought I would stop after I’d recovered, but I enjoyed making self-portraits so much that I kept making self-portraits about my own experiences and thoughts, just with other themes.

What, in your opinion, is the most important to consider while shooting self-portrait pictures?

For me it is important that the final images invoke a certain feeling. That it tells some sort of story, even though the story may not be directly visible on the image. So I’m considerate about the atmosphere when I’m shooting. Color and lighting contribute to the atmosphere a lot so I pay extra attention to these factors.

Would you please tell us anything about your technique and creating process?

I like dreamy images. To achieve this look, I pick out times of day where the daylight is really soft but still relatively sunny and warm. I try to avoid harsh daylight, but I also try to avoid grey skies. The sunrise or sunset on a sunny day is my ideal lighting situation. Sometimes I want to take the soft look to a higher level. To do this, I use all kinds of stuff to make the image the way that I like. I use see-through fabrics, transparent stockings and plastic bags and drape those over my lens. This creates the soft focus that you can see in some of my images. I also like to use wide apertures, anywhere between f/1.8 and f/5, to achieve more blur.

Would you please tell us anything about your technique and creating process? Talking about postproduction process. How do you get to the final result?

For postproduction I rely fully on PhotoShop. I edit the global image (lighting, color, contrast…) in PhotoShop Camera RAW first, and after I go into the details in PhotoShop itself. What I do in PhotoShop depends on the image I’ve shot. If it’s a portrait of just the face, I’ll start out with a frequency separation PHP method to retouch blemishes on the face. This I don’t do, or don’t do as much, when I take a full body shot, or a portrait where the face can’t even be seen. What I always do is to go deeper into the details of the colors. Matching skin tones, making some colors (like background or clothing) more vivid, playing with the overall colors of the photo. I also dodge and burn to make certain areas pop a little more. Sometimes I add a little more blur when I’m not happy with the already present blur. When I’m content with my edits, I end with adding (extra) noise to the picture. I like to add noise to my picture because I have a condition called ‘visual snow’. Because of this, I always have noise in my vision. Visual snow is often described as the ‘tinnitus for eyes’. So, seeing noise is a normal occurrence for me, and I’ve chosen to implement this in my photographs. Taking ‘seeing things through my eyes’ to the next level. I choose to add noise in postproduction instead of in camera because I feel it gives me more control over the amount of noise, I can change my mind about how much noise I think an image needs.

What future plans do you have? What projects would you like to accomplish?

I’m certainly going to continue doing self-portraits. I hope that in a few years, I can make a big book, or exhibition even, full of self-portraits over the years, showing how me and my vision, emotional state, the way I think, everything… have changed. I think it will be interesting to see that evolution. For the rest, I’ll just take it as it comes.

More Stories

Interview with Ann Prochilo; published in our print edition #20

Interview with Ann Prochilo; published in our print edition #20

Ann Prochilo brings extraordinary dreams of mixed elements, and thoughtful reflections to her images, being in the intersection of different worlds but still connected to her roots. Her surprising works are the result of a striking and complex process of work and way of thinking while trying to have her feet on the ground with everyday questioning about which is her place in the universe.
Interview with Sara Camporesi; published in our print edition #20

Interview with Sara Camporesi; published in our print edition #20

A photographer passionate about art, for a long time she has combined this interest with the spontaneity of visual storytelling, conceived not only as a classic account of experiences but as a combination of personal and creative shots conveys the secret appeal of urban places and museums, revealed through images and words like a “photographer narrator”.
As I See It by Lori Pond

As I See It by Lori Pond

"As I See It” is a series that examines and reproduces the fact (according to neurological studies I've read) that our brains, as a survival mechanism, can only process a few things at a time.

Color Awards

We invite you to participate in the first edition
of the Color Awards. We are looking
for the best color picture for this year, 2022.

The competition is open to any interpretation of color photography
in all its dimensions, from everyday reality
to pure abstraction

DEADLINE | FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 30, 2022

PHOTO BY © DANIIL KONTOROVICH
Exclusive Interview with Demi Cauwenbergh

Exclusive Interview with Demi Cauwenbergh

We had the honor to interview exclusively with the photographer Demi Cauwenbergh, winner of the Rotterdam Photo Best Exhibition Award. A collection of self-portraits that she have made over the course of 5 years, and it is still ongoing. she started making self-portraits in 2017 as a way to be really personal.
Paddy drying processes in manual mode by Shaibal Nandi

Paddy drying processes in manual mode by Shaibal Nandi

The drying of paddy is the most important part of making rice from raw paddy. In rural India, poor people still follow the manual process of drying raw paddy before taking those dried paddy into husking mill for milling.
Indigenous communities; Jaguar by Camila Berrio

Indigenous communities; Jaguar by Camila Berrio

Getting into the jungle takes several days; understanding the rhythm of life of the indigenous communities that live there requires much more. During the months that I spent with them, I had the opportunity to contemplate how life is being woven by the skillful hands of indigenous women who, in each backpack and in each seam, express their sadness, joy, hope and frustration.

Featured Stories

Living with albinism; Nude by Justine Tjallinks

Living with albinism; Nude by Justine Tjallinks

Living with albinism not only means an absence of pigmentation in the skin and hair, but also impairment in vision.
Splits of moments by Moin Uddin Ahmed

Splits of moments by Moin Uddin Ahmed

Almost every good shot captures a unique moment in time. Sometimes the moment happens right away, and sometimes you have to wait a while. It can be as simple as a woman glancing up or as complex as having many disparate elements align within a perfect composed frame.
Matrimonial Ties by John Paul Evans

Matrimonial Ties by John Paul Evans

Matrimonial ties is a project that encompasses varied responses and challenges to the historical and cultural significance of the wedding portrait in western culture.
Sacred destinations : Borobudur by Aga Szydlik

Sacred destinations : Borobudur by Aga Szydlik

As the first rays of light break through the thick mist covering the ground, slowly and gracefully, Borobudur temple comes into the view. I close my eyes, deeply breathing in scent of jungle and lyrical call of Adhan, calling faithful to a Morning Prayer.
Ethiopia; The art of disappearing by Harry Fisch

Ethiopia; The art of disappearing by Harry Fisch

The trucks continually roll past the roads that lead to their villages, spitting out so much dust that people living in the villages can no longer breathe. 
Erotic photographs; Inappropriate Images by Alva Bernadine

Erotic photographs; Inappropriate Images by Alva Bernadine

When I first started taking erotic photographs they were for myself and nobody saw them apart from a few friends. They languished in my photo albums for some years until my first book, Bernadinism: How to Dominate Men and Subjugate Women, was published in 2001 by a Swiss publisher.
https://www.dodho.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/07/color-banner.jpg

We invite you to participate in the first edition of the Color Awards. We are eager to see photograhs with new focus points and innovative approaches

https://www.dodho.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/BAnImage.jpg

ImageRights provides intelligent image search and copyright enforcement services to photo agencies and professional photographers worldwide.

https://www.dodho.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/05/banner.jpg

The book where words and images meet to never leave each other, The book contains 20 evocative paintings; each of them is a double page. 56 printed pages | 235x165mm

https://www.dodho.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/banner22.jpg

Call For Entries #21 | After 20 editions and more than 100 published photographers, our print edition has proven to be a simply effective promotional channel.

Off-Season Santas by Mary Beth Koeth

Off-Season Santas by Mary Beth Koeth

An ongoing portrait series of off-season Santas. Santa Roy is a retired police officer who, in 1984, was named one of the Top Ten Law Enforcement Officers in the State of Florida.
Gotham Visions; Second City by Emmanuelle Becker

Gotham Visions; Second City by Emmanuelle Becker

Gotham Visions / Second City is a portfolio of stylish, unsettling urban landscapes, a collection of dark, brooding night scenes shot in seemingly lifeless cities. Emmanuelle Becker’s imagery is cinematic and particularly influenced by American film noir and German expressionist cinema.
Swimmers; Spirit above waves by Jan Caga

Swimmers; Spirit above waves by Jan Caga

Spirit above Waves The project shows disabled swimmers in a pool. Almost all people enjoy competing, because it belongs to our human nature, to our animalistic status.
The exposed city by Sevil Alkan

The exposed city by Sevil Alkan

Taking photography by mobile phones created a new trend by changing the border and direction of the photography
Life and culture in Ethiopia by Trevor Cole

Life and culture in Ethiopia by Trevor Cole

These images are a cross section of the diversity of life and culture in Ethiopia. The tribes of the Omo valley, the Afar of the Danakil desert and the Orthodox christians of the highlands.
Ramnami Community by Sanghamitra Sarkar

Ramnami Community by Sanghamitra Sarkar

Low-caste Hindus in the eastern state of Chhattisgarh first began tattooing their bodies and faces more than 100 years ago as an act of devotion and defiance after being denied entry to temples and forced to use separate wells.

Trending Stories

Korean Dream by Filippo Venturi

Korean Dream by Filippo Venturi

Between 1905 and 1945 Korea was dominated by the Japanese, thus becoming a colony of the Empire. In 1945, after Japan's defeat, Korea was involved in the Cold War and became an object of interest for the USA, the URSS and lately for China as well.
Protests after George Floyd’s murder by Manuela Thames

Protests after George Floyd’s murder by Manuela Thames

When George Floyd was murdered by a policeman here in Minneapolis, my initial thoughts were: “Not again. Why does this keep happening?” What followed after were days and nights of protest, unrest and destruction.
Travelling; The unfolding of perception by Guadalupe Acevedo

Travelling; The unfolding of perception by Guadalupe Acevedo

Travelling is for me one of the most beautiful things in the world and I’ve always been deeply fascinated by how emotions and feelings can sometimes play a huge role in how we perceive and experience those trips we make.
Interview with Dejan Mijovic ; Finalist in our Black & White 2019

Interview with Dejan Mijovic ; Finalist in our Black & White 2019

A lot of quality photos I already made of my relatives. That means I did the opposite of how usually projects are made. After years of photographing my relatives and family and a lot of good photos of elders I decided that I have to do something with them.
Amazon Rainforest; Like Unicorns? by Miguel Pinheiro

Amazon Rainforest; Like Unicorns? by Miguel Pinheiro

It is hard to imagine a spot of greater human diversity than the Amazon Rainforest, it’s a tropical Babel. In these woods one finds old mythological sagas of the First Peoples: the Xipaya, the Kuruaya, the Kayapó, the Xikrin, the Parakanã, the Asuriní, the Arara, the Juruna.
Pets photography; Wet Dog by Sophie Gamand

Pets photography; Wet Dog by Sophie Gamand

Sophie Gamand is a French photographer living and working in New York. Since 2011, with both a documentary and artistic approaches,
Solitude(s) by Antoine Buttafoghi

Solitude(s) by Antoine Buttafoghi

My work revolves around loneliness, even solitude, so many and varied. Loneliness is also the realm of photographers. For if love belongs to the poet, the novelist's fear, loneliness belongs entirely to the photographer.
10 Great fashion Photographers

10 Great fashion Photographers

The Best fashion Photographers published in Dodho Magazine. The great stories by Mike Ruiz, Dasha Matrosova, Irvin Rivera, Victoria Art, Gennadiy Chernomashintsev, Ryan Cooper, Benjo Arwas, Ludek Ciganek, Sean Archer and Rainer Ressmann
A lonely soul by Sebastian Gruia

A lonely soul by Sebastian Gruia

This is my grandmother, a divided soul between two worlds, between her two sons gone to find a purpose in their lives. My uncle was the first to leave the family nest, back then he had a rebel nature and couldn’t bare the communist regime

Other Stories

stay in touch
Join our mailing list and we'll keep you up to date with all the latest stories, opportunities, calls and more.
We use Sendinblue as our marketing platform. By Clicking below to submit this form, you acknowledge that the information you provided will be transferred to Sendinblue for processing in accordance with their terms of use
We’d love to
Thank you for subscribing!
Submission
Dodho Magazine accepts submissions from emerging and professional photographers from around the world.
Their projects can be published among the best photographers and be viewed by the best professionals in the industry and thousands of photography enthusiasts. Dodho magazine reserves the right to accept or reject any submitted project. Due to the large number of presentations received daily and the need to treat them with the greatest respect and the time necessary for a correct interpretation our average response time is around 5/10 business days in the case of being accepted.
- Between 10/30 images of your best images, in case your project contains a greater number of images which are part of the same indivisible body of work will also be accepted. You must send the images in jpg format to 1200px and 72dpi and quality 9. (No borders or watermarks)
- A short biography along with your photograph. (It must be written in the third person)
- Title and full text of the project with a minimum length of 300 words. (Texts with lesser number of words will not be accepted)
This is the information you need to start preparing your project for its presentation
To send it, you must compress the folder in .ZIP format and use our Wetransfer channel specially dedicated to the reception of works. Links or projects in PDF format will not be accepted. All presentations are carefully reviewed based on their content and final quality of the project or portfolio. If your work is selected for publication in the online version, it will be communicated to you via email and subsequently it will be published.
Contact
How can we help? Got an idea or something you'd like share? Please use the adjacent form, or contact contact@dodho.com
Thank You. We will contact you as soon as possible.
Submission
Dodho Magazine accepts submissions from emerging and professional photographers from around the world.
Their projects can be published among the best photographers and be viewed by the best professionals in the industry and thousands of photography enthusiasts. Dodho magazine reserves the right to accept or reject any submitted project. Due to the large number of presentations received daily and the need to treat them with the greatest respect and the time necessary for a correct interpretation our average response time is around 5/10 business days in the case of being accepted. This is the information you need to start preparing your project for its presentation.
To send it, you must compress the folder in .ZIP format and use our Wetransfer channel specially dedicated to the reception of works. Links or projects in PDF format will not be accepted. All presentations are carefully reviewed based on their content and final quality of the project or portfolio. If your work is selected for publication in the online version, it will be communicated to you via email and subsequently it will be published.
Get in Touch
How can we help? Got an idea or something you'd like share? Please use the adjacent form, or contact hello@dodho.com
Thank You. We will contact you as soon as possible.