“It feels great when people stop by, take a look and start laughing!” Marga van den Meydenberg
“Here for instance, I realized that something interesting could happen.” Marga van den Meydenberg
If you walk down the Maybachufer art market on Saturdays, it is hard to miss out on Marga van den Meydenberg. With her 70 year old bicycle, the Dutch woman stands out from all the other booths on the market. Marga is a street photographer. The small suitcases and crates attached to the bike are filled with self-taken pictures. If you go through her photos don’t be embarrassed to laugh – it’s the biggest compliment you can give her: “It feels great when people stop by, take a look and start laughing!”
The 37 year old photographer came to Berlin about a year-and-a-half ago. She had been in Berlin before, visiting friends and experimenting with street photography. Marga explains: ”During the summer of 2010 I decided to come to Berlin with just my camera – I wanted to see what it would do to me. I just started taking pictures on the streets. I liked the result and began doing it more and more.” After working in the photography world for some years in the Netherlands, Marga decided to move to Berlin permanently in 2012: “I noticed I could do so much more with photography here. Every day something is going on, I just need to step on my bike and bring my camera.”
Make it fun
Being a street photographer means Marga needs to be quick and adequate. She can’t plan her pictures: “I try to bring my camera to as many places as possible. A nice scenery for a picture can happen in a split second – nothing is posed and nothing is directed, I really need to be there at that moment.” Sometimes she’s too late. “Other times I might think I succeeded, but then find out at home that the picture isn’t as successful as I had hoped. It’s always a challenge.” Over the months Marga has become better and better at it. She laughs: “Nowadays I don’t come home with over a hundred pictures anymore. Now I just return with three or four good pictures.”
Humor is a returning element in Marga’s work. “To me that is the most fun – to wait until something silly or weird happens and then take the picture, right at that moment.” This means Marga needs to have a bit of luck too. “Sometimes I see a good setting where something funny could happen. In such a case I wait until something occurs.” She shows a picture of a man in a suit in front of a billboard. “Here for instance, I realized that something interesting could happen.” The billboard shows a man and a woman dancing. She continues: “I sat down and waited for about thirty minutes – but I never expected that a man in a suit would actually walk by.” In the picture the real-life man blends in perfectly with the man on the billboard.
Bicycles and markets
Almost every weekend Marga brings her old transport bike to one of Berlin’s flea markets. For many years the bicycle stood in her parents’ garage: “The bicycle used to belong to my grandfather. It’s over 70 years old. My mother used to sit at the front end, as she was a little girl. Together they would bike to the potato fields.” After Marga’s grandfather passed away the bike got neglected. Marga’s father decided to repair it and Marga brought it to Berlin: “I wanted something different to sell my photos’ with. Not just a table or a box. Something personal that makes it look a bit more fun.”
The suitcases attached to the bicycle contain about 30 to 40 pictures, which she sells for 10 euros per piece. She notices that some pictures are more popular than others: “Tourists like the more typical Berlin sceneries, with graffiti for example.” She laughs, “my own favorites actually don’t sell that well, but I put them in the collection anyway.”
Marga forces herself to add a new picture to the collection every week. This means she needs to keep roaming the streets of Berlin looking for the perfect shot. As she has a part-time job too, she wakes up early or returns home late to make detours around the city. It doesn’t bother her: “When I’m on the streets with my camera it’s almost like meditation. My head really needs to be free of thoughts – otherwise I can’t take pictures.”
Even though her photography is her true passion, making a living out of it is still not easy. She will soon start selling her pictures online and aspires to do more portrait pictures and other photo assignments. But humor will always be the central theme in her work. “Also in portraits I try to show a humoristic side,” she says while showing a portrait picture of a man biting on a hoodie that covers almost his entire face.