'Black and white, lots of contrast, with a story or a wink'

| Sanne Leenders

A new year, a new city photographer. After the success of the first city photographer Evi de Werd, it is now time for Chris Oomes to show Tilburg what he sees. Photography has become something philosophical for Chris. 'If I now take a picture during the interview, this moment is captured. When I take that photo home with me, this moment never leaves. If I don't take that picture, this moment is only in my memory. I think that's a very nice fact: to capture an interview of an hour in one image.' Chris will show himself this year by photographing the (0)13 Geluksplekken (Happiness Sites) of Tilburg. In addition, he will highlight 1 favorite city scene every month.  
Photo: Camiel Donders

It was the early 80's when Chris went to Tilburg to nest. Chris started his studies at Tilburg University, language and literature. Because of the sociability and the many friends in the city he was soon sold. But, when the student days really came to an end, a job at RTL4 came around the corner. 'Then they said to me: Chris, if you don't move to Hilversum, you won't stick with it. In the end, that was right. I kept that up for a year, a season. After that I looked for work closer again.' Tilburg eventually took a place in his heart. That he can now be a city photographer is therefore a great honour for him.

'I am an art lover, a human lover, I am a lover of a lot'
We meet Chris as a true all-round enthusiast. 'I try to do what I do well. I notice that I can combine a lot in recent years. That I get a kind of extra crank from various things in which I am active in what I do. And that's fun to notice, I think.'

Chris' hobby is of course, how could it be otherwise, photography. He passes on his passion to his children. 'We always have photos throughout the house. Both my children are somehow also involved in art or design and both study at Sint Lucas. My son designs media, so film posters, leaflets, websites and games. My daughter studies Design and Craft. She also made this fantastic hat.' (See photo).

Besides city photographer Chris is also a teacher at the Fontys University Communication in Eindhoven, he also works at Fontys University Journalism in Tilburg and gives a photography course together with a friend with whom he also founded his own photo club. As Chris himself points out, there is a beautiful red thread in what he does. 'I have been teaching for 20 years at Fontys Hogeschool Communicatie in Eindhoven, where I now teach research methods. At the Fontys University Journalism in Tilburg I do research myself. The link with photography is that I am always busy with research. You have different ways of taking photos: you come out onto the street and you see a beautiful thing and you take a picture of it, so spontaneity. But sometimes you have to examine the place first for a photo or visit it several times. That's also how it went with the winning photo.'

'Ticket to Tilburg'
That is the final title of the winning photo. The photo shows the story of a couple meeting at Tilburg Central Station. It shows exactly what typifies the style of our new city photographer: 'Black and white, lots of contrast, with a story or a wink'. Film noir plays an important role in this. 'I do have something with melancholy, nostalgia and old. Leo Bormans recently asked, from the project Geluksplekken 013, where did it come from? I didn't know then, but now I know: I find it very difficult to say goodbye, that's it.'

Happiness spots, on the other hand, Chris has enough. Stations are definitely the big favourite. 'A station is a place where people meet, but also where people say goodbye. I find that difficult. There is a French proverb and that says: 'Le retour fait oublier l'adieu. Seeing it again makes me forget saying goodbye. I like that. Yes, I do put on a collection of photos about stations.'

All modern buildings in an old style 
Chris once consciously chose Tilburg and he is still very happy with that. 'Especially the last 5 years I see that Tilburg gets such a huge boost. The terraces grow like mushrooms and they are full too. It's just fun in Tilburg! It is becoming beautiful, the Spoorzone, the Piushaven. We have fantastic museums, people from all over the Netherlands come for De Pont. It's just a fantastic city.'

Chris loves the photogenic places of Tilburg like the streets in the city centre and the small alleys. 'I actually like the old buildings in Tilburg the most, but I also like how it has been created in the meantime that the new can stand next to the old. I had to get used to that very much, I think every Tilburger does.' Chris prefers to take all the old stones from the demolition and build them around the new buildings. The same building, but just in the old jacket.

Het dorp
'The song that touches me most is by Wim Sonneveld, Het Dorp. That expresses most how I am structured.' The contrast of yesteryear, a Heuvelstraat where cars are still unknown and where people still walk on the street with wheelbarrows, is what Chris loves so much. With pain in his heart Chris talks about what has been removed from the Noordstraat, for example. 'There were so many beautiful buildings there as Mathieu Kessels' Music Factory. That has all changed.' By that Chris doesn't mean that we have to go back to that time. He is happy with 2019. That time changes, with social media, computers and just as nice with the elevator instead of the stairs. Chris is absolutely not a complainant, but he wouldn't need the new buildings. 'But I think it's fine that we're enjoying working with computers.'