A dedication to Peter van der Veer – my mentor

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self portrait - Peter van der Veer

self portrait - Peter van der Veer

I commenced working with Peter in the early 80's at Michael Warshall Picturemaker, an upscale photography studio. He was kind, inspiring and to put it directly, I'd never met anyone similar to him before. A bit eccentric, wacky at times, there was never a dull moment when Peter was around. His infectious energy would make you laugh, think and challenge, all simualtaneously.

Peter was simply, a true artist. He was a talented photographer, painter, drawer, designer and given the chance, would have been a brilliant actor. He was a learned gentlemen whose major interest was in people. He was always discussing concepts relating to psychology and was intrigued as to what makes us who we are. A lover of architecture and Bauhaus fan, we often would discuss ways of adopting this school of thought to my photography and even lifestyle. An advocate of Gestalt psychology he would point out elements in imagery I'd never previoulsy considered.

Peter and I lost track after I had left the studio in 1988. In March 1995 I opened my own photography studio and  recindled relationships within the industry.  I reconnected with Peter when at the time he was living in Geelong. From these years onwards Peter became family. He would often stay over and was adored by my wife Limor and two daughters Leor and Aviya.

During this period Peter helped me understand why I was photographying in a certain way and how to develop my message further. He taught lighting techniques that have always remained relevant. His influence and guidance was both conscious and sub conscious. We would discuss all areas of the business including photography, design and technique. We worked on many projects together and he mentored me to the road of success. Thank you Peter.

Prior to emigrating to Israel in May 2008 I asked Peter if you would write a testimonial. This is what he wrote:

portrait by Arnold Szmerling INTL Photographer

portrait by Arnold Szmerling

"Creativity seems to be the result of a simple equation. The factor between internal self, genetics and cognition, and external conditions, the world at large.

Socially, individuals seem to identify where they believe they fit into all of this, then proceed accordingly. This results with an extraordinary variety of acceptable interpretations, most surprisingly, virtually all of them are welcomed and categorized as the one, very same thing - normal.

Creativity however, is not permitted the same relatively easy passage. This human value is the one that was chosen to suffer and to suffer the most. So much so that it is all too often totally destroyed before it can even start.

"Well meaning" parties intervene insisting we must create "something" (that they readily understand then label conveniently). This kind of "help" is totally disasterous; those unable to help themselves teach just that. Culture's co- dependancy of artist and audience fails to develop. In memoriam, denial becomes a rhetorical headstone for the creativity that could have been, but was never spared.

Ideally, individuals need to somehow be born fearless allowing their ideas to arise at will into spontaneous display, even if unresolved and incomplete.

A risch life can be this, one in which we are granted, in confidence, private deliberation between tangibles and intangibles to capture and materialise our fleeting ideas that are otherwise so quick they completely elude us.

Arnold has been spared an unfulfilling pedestrian reality. Like other driven people, he has been realizing a personal quest by simply allowing innate parallel thoughts guide a logical course enriched with surprise lateral discoveries.

Arnold has systematically navigated his own course at his own pace while remaining realistically grounded in today's tangible world of survival.

He has made it his business to extend his personal findings to be his genre".

Peter van der Veer

April 2008

Here are some of Peter's images, I selected from his Flicker page.

Peter's Bio

Peter attended Prahan College of Advanced Education 1973 - 1976.

During the 70s and 80s Peter ran Melbourne's most renowned portrait studios afterwards becoming a lecturer in design and photography.

Peter's concern has always been the developement of others. The aim: diverse cultural and marketing growth while insisting on a complete absence of boundaries in the Art and Design fields. To photographers he constantly advocates

"Photography is about everything else" (so everything else is what must be known).

As an artist his photography has received considerable acclaim:

1975 - photographs selected to represent the young Australian Avant Garde at Biblioteque Nationale, Paris

1984 - Finalist in National Heritage Prize winner for 3 years

- Highly Commended, Commonealth Week International Prize, London

1986 - Winner of the McGregor Prize, (then the most prestigious art photography prize)

Peter Van der Veer has work in a number of collections, including the National Portrait Gallery, Canberra

Peter's Weblinks

Flicker Page, Personal Facebook Page, Facebook Photography Page, Peter's Blog

A lover of cinema; French films, Jacques Tati, Hitchcock 

Peter your legacy and friendship will always be honoured.


2 responses to “A dedication to Peter van der Veer – my mentor

  1. Arnold, a wonderful post.

    Peter worked in 4 of our 6 studios in Melbourne and Geelong from 1988 right through to a couple weeks before his sudden passing in 2015.

    In his final months, he was also working with Michael Warshsll’s ‘Picturemaker’ studio.

    Here’s a link to our short memorial from 2015, including a portrait I made of him about a year before his passing.

    https://www.artistphotographer.com/ap-team-saddened-by-loss-of-peter-van-der-veer/

    He was so articulate and used his hands like a composer whilst he explained concepts that could dumbfound the average person.

    He is surely missed and I think about him often.

    • Hello Mark

      Thank you for your comments. I visited your link and you have captured the true spirit of our dear friend Peter.

      His legacy lives on within us. I often ask myself “What would be Peter do or how how would he interpret this?”

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