It is a dusky morning on the Banda Islands, Indonesia. I wake up to a swishing sound. When I look outside, I see Karis. He sweeps up the leaves, mangoes and branches that have fallen to the ground last night. Discrete and focused.
By wind and weather
I like to photograph people who are involved with their everyday things. People who do their best under all circumstances. The silent forces, the diligent workers. Like Karis. Or like fruit grower Piet, who puts the pears he picks in a crate, tenderly, as if they could break. Or farmer Adjan, and how he puts his hand on the back of a young sheep to calm it.
One of them
Every person longs to be seen, every person seeks connection. I give the people I photograph all the space they need to be themselves, to feel comfortable and to trust me. Sometimes people forget I'm there, still in the room when they take a nap. Sometimes I become – almost – one of them.
Across the field
Small, everyday things move me. How a schoolgirl on the edge of the schoolyard ties the laces of her sneakers. A farmer making trenches in the earth for pumpkin seeds, his hair fluttering in the wind that blows over the farmland. A little boy on a white plastic chair, caringly petting the rabbit on his lap.
Close to the other
I look for closeness in everything I do and with all the people I work with. When I'm close to the other, I feel I get somewhere, touch something, as a person and as a photographer. Then you see the resilience of people, you see their zest for life and ingenuity; then you see who they really are.
Others about my work
Ulfa: 'Isabelle captured me in a unique way and as it was. It's an unforced, honest look at my life.'
Roanne van Voorst (anthropologist and writer): 'Isabelle really gets to know the people in her photos, and they get to know her: one hundred percent, as she is, sincerely and with a lot to give, so that they also like to give her something back: herself, and their most authentic look.'
Nyellow: 'What I find most special about Isabelle's book is that she also recorded my parents. That means a lot to me, because my parents are my everything.'