Documenting happenstance with Peter Kool

For 35 years, steel worker Peter Kool spent long hours dwelling the work floor of a Belgian factory. Over those years, he retained an ardent interest in photography as a hobby. A day eventually came where Kool dropped his old occupation and instead decided devote his life full-time to the world outside of the factory, camera attached firmly to his side. Masterfully capturing opportune moments within his environment, Kool’s images range from humorous and peculiar to unsettling and extraordinary. In this interview, we had the opportunity to sit down with curious street photographer and ask him a few questions concerning his experiences as a late-blooming artist with an eye for the unusual.

Let’s start from the beginning. When did you first develop an interest in photography? What led to your decision to pursue photography full-time?

I became fascinated by the medium with the photos I took at the birth of my first son; that’s when I bought my first camera and it became worse since then. The reason why I can dedicate much of my time to photography now was my early pension at 55 and was due to the 35 years of shifts I did at the steel factory, including nights.

Was it at all difficult for you to step away from the life you had built for yourself prior?Were you met with scepticism?

I was very happy I could retire from the factory and because I didn’t have to make a living out of photography there was no scepticism of course. I would have been sceptical myself if I had to make money with photography.

I realize that you’re affiliated with the street photographer initiative in-Public. How has collaboration and communication with an international collective of like minded individuals impacted you professionally or personally?

I’m very proud of course to be part of a group with such talented photographers and it stimulates me to try and make more and better photos then before.  

What moments tend to catch your eye when you’re out with your camera?

It’s little deviations in human behaviour or other anomalies in the urban landscape that make my trigger finger itch. Also similarities, contradictions or maybe just a composition with colors.

If you had to break it down, what percentage of your time do you spend observing versus actually shooting?

My kilometres per photo are rather high.  I make very few photos; making twenty photos on a five hour walk would be a lot, but it also happens I can’t shoot a single one. 


All photos and text are courtesy of Peter Kool.

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