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October 28, 2015

Sisters’ portraits at Werkplaats


Being a talented amateur photographer from an early age, Melvin Herbschleb took his camera wherever he went. Thanks to his career in export and design furniture he and his camera travelled the world together, capturing different cultures. Now it’s time to share his talents in his hometown, Amsterdam. The exhibition ‘Us’ explores the intimacy between sisters. Time for a chat about sisterhood, analog cameras on the streets and wrinkles.

You’re presenting a series of portraits of sisters. Can you share your inspiration with us?
“It started about one and a half years ago when I photographed a singer that had a sister. I thought it was an interesting idea to capture the intimacy between them. Initially they wore traditional costumes, but that was to distracting so I decided to change course. I ended up taking clean pictures of 27 couples of sisters, from Japan to Suriname and Spain. They all share a feeling of intimacy, tenderness, even though some of them don’t see each other that often.”

foto Melvin zw_wit

Is there a common thread that ties your work together?
“There’s a certain signature I guess: women are the main subject in my photos. On a crowded street or in the small studio; I am intrigued by a certain absent look in their eyes. Powerful pictures or fashion shoots aren’t that interesting to me, I’m more into a dreamy vibe.”

You’ve been taking pictures for more than thirty years. Do you remember when your passion for photography started?
“Yes, it was the year of 1974. My granddad handed me an analogue Rolleiflex. Being a fellow of fourteen years old I sometimes used to get up around five in the morning and walk the streets. Cleaners, drunk folks in front of a bar; I loved it. Back home I would develop the pictures in my dark room and hang them with clothes pins. It never became my profession, but it is still my biggest inspiration.”

foto 5

What makes this newest project special to you?
“My last photo shoot was with an 86 year old woman and her sister, who was 15 years younger. These sisters and their enhanced life experience showed me how two people that lived life to the fullest could let go of their shyness and just be who they are. I admire them because of their beautiful and strong personalities that shine through when you look at the picture.”

‘Us’ opens at Werkplaats on 30th of October, 18:00-21.00. Entrance is free. The exhibition will be on show until the end of November, so feel free to drop by. For more information, check out

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