Monthly Archives: February 2013

photographer: Anna Ådén

Anna Aden 1

I’m taking a break from everything Amsterdam and moving related to share the photography of Anna Ådén. She is a Swedish art and portrait photographer with an amazing ability to capture scenes of nostalgia and nature. When I first discovered her work, I thought they could be images from a film set for a British period piece – especially the first and last images in this post.

Her photography caught my attention not just for the strong sense of composition, but also for the soft lighting and muted tones she creates. So I wasn’t surprised to learn in this interview that she is also a painter. Check out more of her work on her website or blog.

Lily of the valley

Anna Aden 3

Anna Aden 2


Autumn fields

All images by Anna Ådén.

Universiteit van Amsterdam

Before I leave Amsterdam, I had to visit the university area one last time. The whole reason I came to the Netherlands in the first place was because I received a full scholarship for a two-year M.A. program at the University of Amsterdam. The university is spread throughout the entire city, but I spent most of my time in the center where the Media and Culture faculty is housed. Even with grey skies, it’s a beautiful area, with classrooms next to residential buildings and where students, locals, and tourists alike wander among the canals.

While packing, I found the scholarship certificate that I received from the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science. At the end of the certificate, it read:

Wij hopen dat u naast uw studie in staat zult zijn nader kennis te maken met ons land, zijn mensen en zijn cultuur en dat u na terugkeer het contact met Nederland in stand zult houden.

Which translates to something like, “We hope that, in addition to your study, you will get to know our country, its people, and the culture, and that after you return, you will keep in contact with the Netherlands.” It still amazes me that this scholarship was the starting point for a whole host of events that unraveled over the last seven years. As I prepare to return, there is no doubt that the country, the people, and the culture will occupy a permanent place in my memory.



Amsterdam countdown

Amsterdam by Joan Costa

It’s almost unreal, but today we booked our one-way tickets to Portland! On 5 March, we’ll say farewell to Amsterdam and head westward. That gives us just over two weeks to see, do, and experience all of our favorite things about this city. I love lists, so here are the must-do things that come to mind:

1. Spend an evening lingering over a bottle of wine at Restaurant De Struisvogel
2. Relax at Spa Zuiver
3. Eat Indonesian food at Restaurant Blauw
4. Drink beers at Brouwerij ‘t IJ
5. Walk around the gardens at Huize Frankendael (where we got married!)
6. Listen to one last concert at Paradiso
7. Walk on the beach at Bloemendaael
8. Drink Blonde Roos beer at Bekeerde Zuster
9. Watch a film at Tuschinski Theater
10. Slide on the marble bench at Droog
11. Cocktails at Vesper Bar, Tales & Spirits, and Bo Cinq
12. Eat stroopwafel ice cream
13. Gaze across the city from the top floor of the library on Ooosterdokseiland
14. Sample beers at Gollem
15. Enjoy the Korean flavors at Yogiyo
16. Take a ferry ride to Noord
17. Consume platefuls of poffertjes at Pancakes!
18. Wander around Noordermarkt

Photo by Joan Costa

2013 World Press Photo Contest

2013 World Press Photo

For the past three weeks, my life has been all about visual journalism: photography, multimedia productions, and producing content around the judging of the two World Press Photo contests. This was the fourth contest I experienced, and it was the last I will see up close as the move to Portland and the time to say goodbye to an amazing organization draws near.

After working intensely with an amazing team to create the context around the images and judging, the winners were announced yesterday morning. Paul Hansen, a photojournalist from Sweden, was awarded the main prize. In all, the jury awarded 367 images from 54 photographers of 32 nationalities. Some of the single images that most impressed me were from Micah Albert (USA), Wei Seng Cheng (Malaysia), Yongzhi Chu (China), Daniel Rodrigues (Portugal), and Nemanja Pancic (Serbia).

And below, some of the photo stories:

MournfulMournful by Ebrahim Noroozi (Iran)

The Cage
The Cage by Xiaoqun Zheng (China)

Japan After the Wave
Japan After the Wave by Daniel Berehulak (Australia)

Mirella by Fausto Podavini (Italy)

The Pink Choice
The Pink Choice from Maika Elan (Vietnam)

Emperor Penguins
Emperor Penguins by Paul Nicklen (Canada)

All winners can be seen in the 2013 Photo Contest gallery.

leaving Amsterdam

Amsterdam to Portland

It’s official. After nearly seven years in Amsterdam, I am heading home. The move has been in the works for a while now, but the tangible reality of it is really emotional. It hasn’t always been easy, but this little country has been good to me.

In July 2006, I arrived in the Netherlands with two suitcases in hand. It was my first time stepping foot in the country, enticed by a full scholarship for a two-year Master’s of Arts program. The first year was a rollercoaster as I adjusted to living in Europe, a mix of awe at the beauty of the city and confusion as I wondered where my place was in the world. I had lived in Seoul the year before and, although I loved my family, I didn’t want to live in America. A year into my studies, I wondered if Amsterdam was the place for me. At the height of wanderlust, I imagined moving next to Berlin or Paris. And then…

In September 2007, I met Marcus. A sweet German who had lived in Amsterdam for two years, played music, worked with technology, and is the epitome of stability and love. When I received my diploma in June 2008, I couldn’t imagine leaving him and decided to stay. I entered the Dutch workforce in August 2008, building my career and an amazing network.

Moving to a new apartment. German lessons. A job offer from World Press Photo. Traveling the world. An engagement. A wedding. And then it was 2013.

The two suitcases I arrived with in 2006 have evolved into five cubic meters to be packed in a transatlantic shipping container. I now have my MA degree, a solid professional career, friends from all parts of the world, and an amazing husband. And somehow, despite the distance, I am closer to my family than ever. I don’t mean to make it sound easy. There were moments of tears and frustration, times of loneliness and wondering if I would make it along the way. But I did.

A new life awaits in Portland and there are so many details to arrange before the end of February. But for now, I am going to enjoy these last days with the city that has brought so much to my life.

weekend links

stacking wood olive us

Enjoy the weekend and these links!

1. How to properly stack wood (pictured above)
2. A sleek, simple alarm clock app
3. Ten recipes that use lentils, one of my favorite sources of protein
4. A blind person’s instagram
5. Dreams of a high-speed train network across the States
6. A sobering view of the gun deaths in the US since the Newtown shooting
7. Photographs for Geolocation, a project by Nate Larson and Marni Shindelman that ‘situates virtual communication in the physical realm’ through the images taken at the location of a Tweet (pictured below)

geolocations1  geolocations3geolocations2

a week of multimedia

in the judging room

Over the past week, I had the opportunity to watch some amazing examples of visual storytelling today and listen to conversations from its leading practitioners, thanks to the World Press Photo multimedia judging. Now in its third year, I have seen the contest grow from the inaugural year to a refined look at what’s going on in the world of multimedia. In the last days, I watched about 50 of the 287 submitted productions, observing the process as the jury narrowed it down to the final selection and interviewing judges about the winners.

Here is the list of the winners, with two of my favorites embedded below. I can also highly recommend ‘Dreams on Freewheels’ coming out of China. And all the interactive productions are worth the time to explore.

Online Shorts
1st Into the Shadows
2nd Living with a Secret
3rd Aleppo Battleground

Online Features
1st Too Young to Wed
2nd Dying for Relief: Bitter Pills
3rd Dreams on Freewheels

Interactive Documentary
1st Alma: A Tale of Violence
2nd Bear 71
3rd Lost and Found
Honorable Mention UnknownSpring

And below, interviewing Samuel Bollendorff with my favorite cameraman.

interview with Samuel Bollendorff