After Images, the photos that were never taken.

Initially conceived as a book in 2002 (published by De Balie, sold out), After Images since 2010 has taken the form of audio table, permanently installed in the Nederlands Fotomuseum in Rotterdam.
Visitors can listen to the stories, written and spoken by many photographers and artists; stories about images that the photographer let go by. They describe the scenes and explain why the photographer was either unable or unwilling to record that specific image.
What happens when an important moment cannot be recorded? To what degree does this missed opportunity influence our thinking, our imagination? How does the perceived image impact our memory? And can these fluid, never recorded after images inspire new thoughts and stories?
After Images is about the ambivalent relationship between the image and the photographer, but also about language, image culture, and the absence of images.
The project is about photography, but without photos.

Ideas should travel. That is why this installation was built in such a way that it can travel and grow. The aim is to take this compact table to other parts of the world that maybe have a different relationship with – especially photographic – images.

This was the invitation I sent them.

Januari 2001, Amsterdam

Dear friend,

We were in a car getting lost in one of Antwerp’s old neighborhoods, trying to find our way back to the ringway. We pulled over for a bit and there I saw them, slowly moving on the pavement: two young girls, identical twins, walking next to each other, their nanny right behind them. The girls each had one eye taped over, the left girl’s right eye and the right girl’s left eye. Together they saw with one pair of eyes, as if to complement each other’s eyesight, as if together they could see with full depth of field. How would they see, and what were they, simultaneously, looking at? Probably not at me, who kept on staring at the girls while the car started moving again, the camera sitting on the dashboard.
Many of us carry a photo in our memory: an event or a moment that we saw but failed to capture in a photograph. Perhaps the camera was out of film or the battery empty, or perhaps the moment was simply too important.
Sometimes such perceived moments haunt you like persistent after-images. These images are fluid, because never recorded. Perhaps these kinds of after-images will lead you to new thoughts and new stories.
With these considerations I invite you to write a story about your untaken photographs. The story might be better than the photograph could ever have been.

Warmest regards,

Rein Jelle Terpstra

(Also published in The Photographer's Playground, publisher Aperture.
Edited by Jason Fulford and Gregory Halpern, 2014).


With never taken photographs by:

Hans Aarsman, Tiong Ang, Maria Barnas, Jurriaan Benschop, Ad van Denderen, Leo Divendal, Douwe Draaisma, Nickel van Duijvenboden, Michel Francois, Hanne Hagenaars, Arnoud Holleman, Ine Lamers, Roos van Mierlo, Arjen Mulder, Paulien Oltheten, Frans Oosterhof, Willem Popelier, Joke Robaard, Jan Rothuizen, Julika Rudelius, QS Serafijn, Martine Stig, Marianne Theunissen, Ronald van Tienhoven, Hannes Wallrafen, Anneke Walvoort, Dirk van Weelden, Luuk Wilmering and Mattie van der Worm.

with thanks to:
Nederlands Fotomuseum
Mondrian Foundation
duyser.net
Atelier Duvekot
Fraai Metaal
Rijksakademie van Beeldende Kunsten
Gert Staal