In this, the first vlog of our Live Tall series, American Tall’s own Jake Rajsky went Dutch, travelling to Rotterdam to talk with Tim Waldekker of Giantific, who tells us about his photography, his inspiration and the beautiful madness of the city’s architecture.
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Giantific’s Tim Waldekker tells American Tall about living tall, his photography, travel bucket list and the weirdest buildings in Rotterdam.
American Tall: Your followers identify with your unique perspective as a photographer, as a citizen of Rotterdam and as a tall person. But we should start with the most pressing question—how tall are you?
Tim Waldekker: I’m 6’9”.
AT: You’re a photographer. Does your height affect your visual perspective?
TW: I’ve never really thought about that much. But it’s an interesting question and I’ve talked about it a few times with people. I do not always realize that I’m so tall, but then there are those moments...
AT: Please don’t tell us that those moments involve head bumping…
TW: No. I always tell people who tell me to watch my head that I’ve been doing this for 30 years. I’m pretty good at it! I don’t consciously think about [my height and point of view] when I take pictures. That said there is obviously a difference in my perspective when I take pictures.
AT: What inspires your photography? Do you look for something in particular or wait for inspiration to hit?
TW: It’s a feeling driven thing. What I have realized recently is that there are almost no people in my pictures except for the selfies that I have to do because, you know, it is Instagram. Sometimes I just wait for people to get out of the picture. It’s mostly buildings and scenes that I’m attracted to. A lot of crazy buildings. That’s why I love living in Rotterdam; it got bombed during the War and for fifty years thereafter, everything built was grey. But ten years ago, people realized that all of the buildings in this city are ugly and decided, ‘Let’s put some random, interesting pieces of art everywhere.’
AT: Quite the dichotomy!
TW: Definitely. The last five years the look of the city has become amazing. I’ve been surprised by the guts that Rotterdam has to put some of these buildings up.
AT: What’s the gutsiest building?
TW: The brand new Centraal Station. It’s ridiculous. It took me a long time to get a shot that I thought was Instagram-worthy because it reflects light like aluminum foil. And then there’s the Markthal, where the market is. It opened two years ago. There are rules in Europe that say that more markets need to move indoors, but I think it was an excuse for them to put an insane building right in the centre of the city. There are black squares in the interior, which are windows that lead into the living rooms of all the people who live inside of the arch of the building.
AT: When did you start taking pictures?
TW: It’s something I’ve always done, but it’s only in the last three years that I’ve developed more skill and look at what I’m photographing, why and how. And also I’ve refined my editing skills. My pictures are always really over edited, but that’s what I like about them.
AT: Do you have any plans to travel soon?
TW: Yes. We’re thinking Scotland because it’s really close and so beautiful. We’re still trying to figure out where to go for the summer holidays.
AT: Do you have somewhere that you’d like to go where you haven’t been yet? A bucket list destination?
TW: My list is really long. I definitely want to go to Australia, New Zealand, Japan and that side of the world. But I would want to go for a month. That said: Being based in Rotterdam, if I travel for an hour, I’m in a different country. If you travel for an hour [in North America], you’re at the mall or that’s your commute! In Europe there are so many different cultures and countries and I haven’t seen all of them yet and I’m going to try and see as many as I can. My users can travel through me. I hope to add some cities to their list as well.
Unrelated, but I love this story: We have these contests every year in Rotterdam where the government says, “Hey, we have 2 million Euros: Who has a good idea for what we should do with the money?” People submit plans and then people vote. And all the time all these crazy things get in. As a result, the city now has to figure out how to build a giant lake or swimming pool that has the ability to make waves for surfing in the centre of the city.
LA: All the more incentive for people to come to Rotterdam.
TW: I thought it was a great idea. If you’re a tourist you want to see it. I thought so, but some of the people who live really close were not so enthusiastic… Like so much in Rotterdam, what’s here is not what you would expect. You can discuss whether it’s pretty or not, but at least it’s interesting.