Interview with Annick Donkers

Annick Dodho Magazine
Annick Donkers / Cover Issue 02 / Photo: Carlos Blanco
Annick Donkers is a documentary photographer from Antwerp, Belgium who currently lives and works in Mexico City.After obtaining a Masters degree in Psychology, she decided to specialize in photography. She studied photography at different schools in Mexico and participated in an artistic residence program called “Residencia Corazón” in La Plata, Argentina.

She has received a grant from the Mexican Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 2008 and was selected to participate in the 2008 Seminar on Contemporary Photography at the Centro de la Imagen. She won Best Graphic Reportage at the Certamen Nacional de Periodismo Turístico from SECTUR and CPTM (2010) , an award for her work “Primavera Mexicana” at the 132 Competition sponsored by INJUVE (2012), a first place in the “Cultural Promotion” category in the Banamex photo contest “El México de los Mexicanos” (2014), she was one of the winners of the Survival International Competition (2015), won an award at the Sony Awards 2016 in UK, at the San José Foto Festival in Uruguay  (2016), at the MIFA awards in Russia 2016 and has been selected at the Latin American Photography vol.5 contest. [Official Website] [Print Version] [Digital Version]

Can you tell a little about yourself?

I am a photographer from Antwerp, Belgium. I currently live in Mexico City where I work as a freelance photographer and work on personal photo documentary stories.

How did you get interested in photography?

I never had the idea to become a photographer. It just kind of happened. It started as a hobby after I took a photography course after finishing university, but it became what I really wanted to do. I get to meet interesting people, travel to new places, and learn something new every day. Maybe I’ve also been inspired by my dad who was an amateur photographer in the village where I grew up.

What inspired you to take your Lucha Libre Extrema Series?

The Lucha Libre Extrema series emerged from a growing interest I had in Mexican professional wrestling. I was soon drawn towards sub-genres of the sport such as Lucha Libre Exótica, involving androgynous and openly-gay wrestlers, and Lucha Extrema, an ultra-violent “hardcore” style. In 2012 I began photographing Cassandro, a luchador exótico from El Paso, Texas, and became fascinated by the daily struggles he endured beneath the glamor and glitter of his stage persona. We became friends and through him I was able to make further contacts in the industry that helped me with the reportage on Lucha Libre Extrema. I was asked to cover the genre by a Mexican magazine called Tercera Via. Basically, I became fascinated by this type of wrestling and wanted to continue the series.

Three words that describe your works?

Emotion – Color – People

How would you define your general style of photography?

I consider myself a documentary photographer. I focus on people and the stories behind them fascinate me. I am very spontaneous in the way I work, adapting to the circumstances I encounter. For me the most important is finding the light, color, the moment and showing a personal view in your pictures.

In your opinion, what makes a good cover photograph?

If it draws your attention, makes you reflect, stays in your head and inspires you. If you want to know more about the photograph and the photographer.

What do you think makes a memorable project?

When it provokes an emotion, when the photographer is true to himself and showing a personal perspective.

How do you know you got the shot you wanted?

When I am working I go in this kind of concentration and I can feel the moments I want to capture. Also when there is a connection with a subject, you just feel you can take “that” picture. When the light is good and creates a kind of magic.

Your idea of the perfect composition?

Composition is very important but it is not something I rationally reflect about. For me it works more intuitive, it is the way I see things at a certain point when light, color, moment, subject all come together to create the picture you want.

What would I find in your camera bag?

When I take pictures outside, I try to take as little as possible. I am not like this photoreporter carrying around different bodies and lenses. I really want to concentrate on the subject and don´t want to be distracted by other things. I currently work with a Canon 5DIII and for the Lucha Libre Extrema series I only used 1 lens 24-70mm with a 2.8 opening which I really needed because it was a really dark ambience.

What future plans do you have?

I am currently working on several ideas for new series, here in Mexico but also in the USA. I want to continue working on some personal series while working freelance for magazines.

Finally, one last question. What opinion do you have of our print edition?

In a time where everything is becoming digital I think it is very nice to have a print copy with a selection of different styles of photography. A magazine you can collect and that gives you inspiration for your own work.

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