An Amsterdam-based photographer who produces intimate and highly polished images of drag queens, black men, their alter-egos and kinky scenes, Remon van den Kommer has undergone several important transformations.
First there was his decision to leave the mainstream drag world for Antigua in 2013 where he was producing his final photo assignment for school. Remon photographed dope-smoking children but found himself unexpectedly shocked by the Rastafarian’s homophobia. He then found himself with an unknown illness and he returned home to Holland where he was diagnosed HIV+. This lead to a new approach of always following his intuition and ignoring self-doubt – although it took Remon six months to return to photography.
In 2014, Remon finally entered the parallel universe of Amsterdam’s Club Church, which has been his natural home ever since.
Citing influences ranging from erotic cartoonist Patrick Fillion to photographers Robert Mapplethorpe, Jan Van Breda and Erwin Olaf, Remon inhabits the same space within Club Church as his subjects, as a photographer as well as a performer.
“You’re part of the same group so there’s nothing between me and my subjects,” he says.
Remon has long been fascinated by black men, in particular. He describes the initial eye-and-body contact between them: if it shows up again later when they know each other better, with the same chemistry, the shoot is ready to happen.
“Getting that first look back is hard,” Remon admits. “So when I see a guy that I like, taking his photo is not the first thing on my mind. It has all to do with being comfortable around each other first.”
Remon uses just one light to achieve a natural effect and uses music and laughter to create a relaxed atmosphere in the studio. He prefers posed and staged photos and will usually edit away a model’s imperfections to get the perfect image, but not always.
Remon’s work is permanently on display at Gallery Amsterdam.