This is the third extract from an interview with Teun van
der Heijden, the designer of Stanley Greene's book, Black
Why did you and Stanley Greene decide to do a book
"One day Kadir called. "He wants you, baby. You really have to
work with Stanley because it's a unique opportunity." So in autumn
2005 I went to Paris. I admired Stanley. I found him fascinating in
his long leather coat. By that time I had become curious about
those people who photographed war. They always did their best to
stand out from the photographers who dressed up smart when they
were awarded a prize. I've always wondered to what extent that rock
'n roll behaviour is related to the goal of making the world a
better place. Somehow I felt this was something to explore.
I went to see Stanley initially, of course, to find the hook for
a special book. On the first day I discovered in a glossy Russian
magazine an almost erotic picture of a girl biting a strawberry. I
found it strange to find this image in between his pictures from
Iraq. Stanley photographed fruits and erotica. It was amazing. All
those folks I'd met, Kadir van Lohuizen, Ad van Denderen, they would never photograph a
girl with a strawberry.
I mentioned it to him and Stanley said, "You know, I've been a
fashion photographer". Then he opened all of his boxes. He showed
me the first book he had made. I saw photos that were artistic and
stylish and really different from what I had seen until then.
Before then, to me Stanley was a war photographer, but now I saw
there was another layer. In the evening we went to eat. Stanley was
talking and I was pretty quiet. At one point he interrupted
his monologue and asked why I was so quiet. I told him I was
thinking how interesting it could be to mix war with all those
I made a small dummy. Stanley still has it, a thin notebook that
unfortunately I did not get back. We found that it worked well.
Then a half year later I made an extensive dummy. It had to be a
visual biography of which I was the director. Not to put myself
into the picture but because I was more neutral than Stanley
Did you study books that could help you with the visual
"No, but from then on I started to learn more. I read DelCorso's Gallery, a fictional story about a
war photographer, by Philip Caputo. It very much influenced the way
I've used text. The conversations Stanley and I had about movies
was also inspiring. Stanley is a huge film fan. We often talked
about our mutual love for Tarantino movies. For me it is always the
soundtrack which makes a Tarantino movie, but Stanley is into the
dialogues. I downloaded the script for Pulp Fiction, those dry exchanges contain so
many images and emotions. I wanted the text in the book to be that
way, short monologues, easy to read."
The final part of this interview
will follow tomorrow.