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The Magnum Expression Award helps launch a young photographer’s career

 
 

“When I
take pictures,
I don’t have a plan.
I just follow what
I feel.”

— Bieke Depoorter
Winner
2009 Magnum
Expression Award

Bieke Depoorter’s photographs capture the intimacy of family. The bond between friends. The stillness and silence right before someone falls asleep.

In one image, a family prepares dinner in a tiny kitchen. In another, a woman in a thin white nightgown gazes at her reflection in the mirror.

Quick Facts

  • Bieke Depoorter won the 2009 Magnum Expression Award for compelling documentary photography.
  • The award included a $10,000 prize and an HP Designjet Z3200 Photo Printer.
  • She uses the HP Designjet Z3200 and HP Professional Satin Photo Paper to print large-format photos for exhibition and for sale.


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Bieke Depooorter
“I like this one, because it’s like a summary of my work,” Depoorter says. “She’s going to sleep, but she knows I’m there. You can see the intimacy between us.”

Depoorter graduated from the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Ghent, Belgium, in 2009. Just a few weeks later, she won the Magnum Expression Award, which recognizes compelling documentary photography. The award, sponsored by HP, came with a $10,000 grant and an HP Designjet Z3200 Photo Printer.

“You can be a good photographer, but it’s not always easy for people to see your work when you’re first starting out,” she says. “The exposure from this award has been fantastic for me.”

A backpack and a camera

Depoorter describes her work as documentary style, but not journalistic. Her point of view as a photographer and her relationship with her subjects are important elements of every photo.

She takes her photographs while traveling alone, out of her comfort zone. Whether she’s in Russia or the United States, she seeks out people she believes she can trust and asks to enter their everyday lives.

She created her award-winning photo series, Oe Menia—with Me, in Russia, where she spent three months traveling during her final year in school. She didn’t know anyone, and she didn’t speak the language.

Bieke Depoorter

“When I travel, I prefer not to
do a lot of research. I don’t want
to have too many expectations. I
want to see things for myself.”



With nothing but a backpack, her camera and a note written in Russian asking for a place to stay for the night, Depoorter made her way from Moscow to Vladivostok, taking pictures along the way.

“I’m interested in capturing the intimacy in people’s families, and between me and the families,” she says. “You create a very special atmosphere when you live with someone but don’t speak the same language.”

Exhibition quality from home

Since winning the Magnum Expression Award, Depoorter has received press coverage and requests to purchase her prints. She’s showing her work in exhibitions, and she’s working on a book of her photos, to be published later this year.

Depoorter says, along with the exposure, the HP Designjet Z3200 she received has made an enormous difference to her career. She uses the printer and HP Professional Satin Photo Paper to create large-format prints for exhibitions and for sale. She finds the print quality matches what she used to get from a print shop.

“It’s the best way to print my photos,” she says. “The HP Designjet Z3200 is very easy to use.”

Depoorter says her favorite thing about the HP Designjet Z3200 is that it gives her the freedom to experiment with different sizes, media, lighting and other variables, without having to pay print-shop prices.

“When you go to a shop, it’s difficult to get the best picture by trying different things,” she says. “It’s expensive to experiment.”

With the HP Designjet Z3200, Depoorter can hang prints on the wall to get a feel for how they’ll look in an exhibition and create her own proofs at home. She says this freedom to experiment affordably has helped her grow as an artist.


“The HP Designjet Z3200 is the best gift
I could have received for my career.”


The 2010 Magnum Expression Award is currently under way. This year’s winner will also receive a $10,000 grant along with an HP Designjet Z3200 Photo Printer.