Discover more from Process by Wesley Verhoeve
114 ☼ Documenting Gratitude On Film
Documenting an Ancient Rural Tradition on Half-Frame
This week's letter is about a trip I took to document an age-old celebration in a small rural town in the south of the Netherlands, shot on film with a half-frame camera.
I also wanted to say thank you for spreading the word on last week’s issue about all the reasons why I love street photography. It feels really great when I see you share issues knowing it brings new like-minded folks for us to connect with here at Process.
Big shout out to my friends at Squarespace for helping make this issue possible.
Process Photo Walk Announcement + Film Screening!
The first ever Process Photo Walk will take place in Amsterdam on Sunday November 5th. Thanks to my friends at Glass, there will be a free exclusive screening of the new street photography documentary series Wrong Side of the Lens at indie movie theater Lab111. Plus a Q&A with director Josh Ethan Johnson.
The theater can accommodate only 56 people — make sure to RSVP for free HERE, only for Process subscribers. Subscribe below if you haven’t already.
Glass is a paid global photography community. No ads or algorithms, just kind photographers learning together. Anyone who RSVP's will be given their first year of Glass for free.
This will be the first screening of Wrong Side of the Lens outside of NYC. Check out the trailer below.
A Journey to Berg Aan De Maas
Documenting culture and community is about delving into the heart and soul of a moment, and this is exactly what I did when I went on a trip to the southernmost region of the Netherlands: the province of Limburg. Here, nestled in the warm embrace of August, I documented a harvest celebration that transcends borders and time, the Oogstdankfeest in Berg Aan De Maas.
Harvest festivals have been a beloved tradition worldwide for thousands of years. They are a testament to our shared human history, a tapestry woven with threads of gratitude, reverence, and community. Across the globe, people get together to indulge in delicious food, but more importantly, to give thanks for the bountiful harvest.
Travel back to ancient Greece, where they worshipped a pantheon of gods and goddesses. Among them, Demeter, the goddess of agriculture, held a special place in their hearts. The Greeks celebrated her with a harvest festival.
Not far away, the ancient Romans shared a similar sentiment. They honored Cerelia, their goddess of the grain, with a festival that echoed with laughter, games, and offerings of food. They prayed that their offerings would please the goddess and give us another fruitful year.
Fast forward to modern times, and these age-old traditions still endure in various corners of the world. The Oogstdankfeest in Berg Aan De Maas is a testament to this enduring connection to the land and its bounty. In the absence of gods and goddesses, a local woman is crowned as the queen of the harvest, a symbol of the community's gratitude and unity.
What truly sets this celebration apart is the parade, a spectacle that blends pop culture references with the timeless traditions of harvest. Floats crafted with love and humor glide through the streets, a vibrant tapestry of dance, music, and joy. The Queen herself graces the final float, an embodiment of the day's spirit.
As I wandered through this lively gathering, I couldn't help but be drawn to the feeling that even for just one day all the worries in the world were set aside and the aroma of local food elevated us all. Tents offered up a delicious spread of roasted potatoes, savory sausages, and the pride of the region – local beers. The marching band's melodies echoed through the air, weaving together the past and present.
The local mayor steps forward to address the crowd. Children dash about, in costumes of princesses and elves. Dancers add a touch of magic to the festivities. It's a celebration rooted in love and gratitude, a reminder to cherish what we have in a world that often seems to emphasize what we lack.
The enduring nature of these traditions fills me with awe. It's as if we are reaching back in time to connect with our ancestors who celebrated the same abundance. The communal nostalgia is real, a shared bond that transcends generations.
For me, as a photographer, this is more than just capturing images; it's about immersing myself in the spirit of these communities. My camera becomes a passport, granting me permission to be inquisitive and to connect with the people and places I encounter. Through the lens, I offer them the gift of feeling seen, their stories etched into a timeless frame.
Documenting history as it happens doesn't end with the click of a shutter. I keep meticulous notes, because these images are not just for us but for those who come after too. Together with the images they are a time-travel document, a portal to our shared history. In documenting these moments, I am a witness, a storyteller, and a guardian of traditions that span the ages.
In Berg Aan De Maas, as I stood there surrounded by the laughter, the music, and the feast, I was reminded that gratitude is a universal language that transcends time and place. It's a celebration of the land's abundance, a testament to the enduring power of community, and a reminder that, as a photographer, I am not just capturing moments; I am preserving the stories we get to tell each other.
Want to see more photos from this series? I will add some more to the web version that wouldn’t fit in the email, shortly after this email goes out.
That’s it for this week! If you enjoyed this issue I’d love for you to share it with friends.
Next Week: You know what, I haven’t decided yet! It’ll be good! And also the return of the Process x Moment $150 Giveaway!
Side Note: I will be in Oslo from October 10-13, and have one mentorship session slot open. Grab it here.
Keep shooting and take good care of yourselves and others. <3
If you're interested in checking out my favorite collection of still-life work and supporting Process, please consider buying my photo book NOTICE.
Gear & Tools Used
Camera: All analog images included in this issue of Process were shot on the Olympus Pen-F with a 55mm 2.8 lens, borrowed from my friend Guy.
Film: Kodak Portra 400, Kodak Portra 160 NC, and bulk-rolled Double X.
Lab: All my analog work is developed and scanned by my friends at Carmencita Film Lab. They’re my favorite lab in the world. Use code “PROCESS” to get a free upgrade.
Portfolio Site: Big shout out to Squarespace for helping make this issue of Process possible. If you need a website, I can’t recommend using Squarespace more. I have been a paying customer for more than 10 years (!!?) and it’s been so easy to build and maintain a beautiful and professional portfolio. I even added a shop to it recently.
Check out Squarespace and use the code PROCESS10 for 10% off your first order.