Photography, like literature, is often most effective when the viewer is able to resonate with the subject, however distant or alien at first sight. Photographer Marijke Groeneveld, who was born on the Dutch side of the beautiful Caribbean island St.Marteen, sought subjects for her series Wanted(L) via free online modeling agencies; what she didn’t anticipate was that their conversations would reveal that the models shared her own deep-seated desires.
It all began back in 2014 when Marijke was browsing through the models on these free model agency websites and noticed the variety of photographs and goals as laid out on their individual, public profiles. On Christmas day of the same year, she had her first “date” with a model she had met through the internet, and was curious about what kind of person would be drawn to sign up for these websites.
This curiosity quickly escalated into a fascination which motivated the series Wanted(L). Marijke contacted several models and captured intimate, clean portraits of them in their own environment: “My preference is always to go for a clean image. I’d rather there not be too much around so that the focus is on the person”. These photo sessions, which took place in the models’ homes, were accompanied by conversations about their motivations for modeling, from uncertainty and sexual desires to loneliness and depression. The models would share with Marijke their deepest, sometimes secret, desires.
Removing the superfluous from the background, during post-processing Marijke always focuses on the eyes as windows to the soul. The portraits show individuals, often at their most vulnerable: “In the series Wanted(L), I photographed someone naked. That was my first time doing a naked shoot. I thought it would be awkward, but through the lens, nothing seems crazy, everything is allowed. I felt more a sense of appreciation, for the subject had trusted me enough to take these photographs”.
“For me, these pictures are more than flat images” emphasizes the photographer, who found strong personalities and very personal career or life goals behind the models’ faces. “We all have desires” affirms the photographer, “but what I initially observed in the subjects now stands against me. I realize that I need to allow myself to let go of control and allow myself to be surprised by the unknown.” Inspired by the photographer Eadweard Muybridge who studied the movement of animal and human bodies, the successful creation of Wanted(L) has encouraged Marijke to continue to study human behavior through pictures. This project is complete but still poses questions regarding the relationship between Marijke as a photographer and the models she portrays. During the process of shooting the series, Marijke inadvertently stumbled upon her own subconscious desire for recognition, a desire that probably many of us share.
All images © Marijke Groeneveld