Streets of Amsterdam

Whenever I visit Amsterdam, the ongoing street scenes, always capture my attention. The feeling of relaxation, the eccentric people walking around, the hobos on the corner hanging out next to the street kids, the busy people who are always in a compulsive rush to get nowhere. But, in saying that, it does make for interesting street photography!

All kinds of people

People running around like crazy, trying to hurdle themselves into stopping trains and subway carts, piling themselves on top of the persons before them. It always makes me laugh inside. Just standing there on that certain street or subway station, watching all those sheep getting herded into big metal carts, ready to leave for their next destination… wherever that may be. But… these are not the only inhabitants on the streets of Amsterdam.

Street Bums

Besides the hurried career makers, you also have the categorical street bums. All they do is walk or sit around, looking filthy, mostly stoned, high or drunk (sometimes all of the aforementioned).

But, boy, do they make for interesting photographic sketches. Fighting amongst each other about some shitty bottle of wine, a dooby or whatever. The precise reason doesn’t matter that much to me, as long as they make a nice big scene!

Now I understand that it sounds like I am preying on the misfortunate members of society, but hey, if you want privacy, don’t go arguing and fighting in the middle of de Dam (!).. and as I see it, if I don’t ‘shoot’ them, someone else will.

But I’m wandering off, what was I talking about again? Oh yeah, Amsterdam scenes and the people that make them interesting!


Of course I can’t leave out the tourists! Wandering about central Amsterdam, looking lost, wasted and gazing around in complete astonishment.

I can remember a scene I stumbled upon in the red light district — there was an American dude, who was with his wife and two kids, shouting at a prostitute that she would go to hell, and what the hell she was thinking, selling her body like that! That dude didn’t get anything of the freedom that Amsterdam represents… the freedom to be yourself. If that means you are that guy that visits hookers, (or the girl that decides to be a prostitute), smoke weed, are gay or are just that person who is just plain weird then there is a place for you in Amsterdam. Some people, sadly enough, just “don’t get” that.

Of course I wanted to take a shoot of this scene, but before I could even point my camera some creepy looking dude (probably the pimp of the hooker) came running up to me, yelling:” If you take one picture of these women you’ll be in a heap of trouble!” So taking this in and making a split second decision, I decided to leave the scene with only a mental image, cause let’s be honest, I’m no hero.

Real Amsterdammers

The last group I want to describe, are the real “Amsterdammers”. This group are the folk that have lived their whole lives in Amsterdam. They know their city the best; they are the ones that visit the small “Bruincafés”, talk with the thick Amsterdam dialect and have a kind of relaxed air about them — like they own the city, but don’t like to brag about it, although they do wear the pride of their hometown on their sleeves.

The beauty of Amsterdam consists of the fact, that it’s all part of it. All the above I described, is the heart of Amsterdam. Loads of different cultures, a relaxing feel to the still “ridiculously” busy streets, weird looking folk, hobos, yuppies, street kids, tourists, all (some temporary) inhabitants of Amsterdam!

.. and this is what I love most about (street photography in) Amsterdam, all those different individuals fitting together in one big melting pot!
.. and all of them make for ’brilliant’ extras in my visual scenarios!

Arend Wiersma
Arend was born in Leeuwarden (Friesland). He moved to North-Holland when he was 21 and is now living in Alkmaar. Arend likes to go on trips through Europe to taste different cultures and to do urban exploring photography. His other passions are: model and street photography, traveling and writing. He also enjoys good company with some nice food and drinks, or a glass of wine with a good book.

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