There’s a new and special meeting place in Antwerp for anyone interested in photography: Doka. Tunify had a pleasant conversation with Jeroen van Bergen, the initiator of this original project.
“I’ve always been involved in photography,” explains Jeroen. “I have been a photographer myself for almost 30 year. I started at the very young age of 13 and in 2008 I stopped. I still liked photography, but it was changing more and more towards digital and I didn’t like the feel of it anymore. After selling my own archive, I have been doing quite a few interesting things that I really liked, but soon my blood began to cry for photography again. But the thing is: I didn’t want to start taking pictures again.” He came up with the idea for his own business by combining three concepts.
When Jeroen started out as a photographer, it was quite difficult to sell your images or to become known for your work. It turns out to be even worse now: everyone is taking pictures and everyone puts something on Instagram, so it's hard to stand out. Jeroen wanted to help with this: "How can I help those young photographers - and young people not in terms of age, but in the sense of upcoming talent or someone who makes a career switch for photography - to move forward? This can be done, for example, through a photo gallery."
“But it’s nothing like me to just hang some pictures on the wall, sit back, look around and hope that one day somebody would walk in and buy one,” laughs Jeroen. “So why wouldn’t I combine this photo gallery with a place to drink or eat something. I have often had the experience myself that in a big city I walk in and straight out of a photo gallery because I’m hungry or thirsty. That’s how the whole café area came into play.”
While he was at this, he also caught up with something else, says Jeroen. “Just like the revival of vinyl in music, the old-fashioned way of developing and printing pictures in the dark room is also making a return. Because I have a lot of experience with it, I also offer that analogue material for sale, nicely presented in glass display cabinets.”
And this combination of concepts seems to work. “You notice people coming in for the exhibition - we now have a special exhibition around a play by Jan Fabre - and then they order a drink. It’s a reinforcing thing: they are drawn in by the exposition or the looks of this place and then there is a kind of dynamism that happens between the people at the bar and tables, making them stay longer. Last Sunday, two couples who did not know each other ended up chatting for an hour about photography. Well, that’s exactly the thing I’m after! The shop also attracts its own audience, like academy students looking for roll film on a Sunday afternoon. Because of these three different things, you attract all kinds of different people.”
Although Jeroen refers to the return of the record player, he still chooses a modern music solution. “Of course, the convenience of Tunify is that you don’t have to select and start the right music yourself all the time. I do this all alone, so I don’t have time for that. I was told by friends and colleagues that Tunify is the most reliable music service. I have thoroughly tested all categories and music channels during the free trial and there’s more than enough to choose from. I also get a lot of compliments from visitors saying ‘Oh, this really is nice music’. Usually, I select Grand Café in Tunify Blue and play music from the music channels 2013-2017, Smooth Tea, Lazy Breakfast, Café Classics, Oldies Mix and Dinner Classics. Occasionally I’ll throw in some Lounge Bubbles or Groovy Drinks. It’s just right for the location and also suits the atmosphere very well. And if a private reception is held, I also know I can switch to pop, disco or something else immediately, that’s also a big advantage.”
Do you take interest in photography, do you want to discover new talent or are you looking for a place where you can buy analogue material to use yourself? Then Doka in Antwerp is definitely an address for you to visit. On the Doka website you can find all the information you need to get there.