PUMA brings the wold of Rider into a whole new dimension - creating imagery using tactile materials to exaggerate the contrast between analog craft and digital imagery.

Mark Bolk is a Rotterdam born&raised photographer.

He photographed plenty of lookbooks for Woei, mostly digital... but lately he tends to go more for the analog way.

In this editorial for PUMA we ride along with Mark Bolk through his favorite part of Rotterdam: West Side, and ask him a few questions.






Hi Mark, could you please introduce yourself?

My name is Mark Bolk, I’m 25 years old and was born and raised in Rotterdam - which is something I’d never want any other way.


Can you tell us more about your photographic hustle? When and how did it all start?

It all started when I was 14 years old. I was always a bit of a troubled kid that didn’t really know what to do, misbehaved at school and the few times I actually had my nose in a book I was probably drawing. At the same time, I always liked to be creative so my uncle decided to introduce me to his best friend who was and still is a professional photographer. I remember being very inspired by all his stories and pictures. He also gifted me a Magnum photography photo book to take home. I studied the pictures in the book almost everyday and from that visit on, I knew this was my calling and my way to express my vision of the world.

Finally I had a goal to focus on something I really wanted to succeed in and also provided me with a reason to work hard (at least harder than I used to for school).


Can you explain your current situation to your 5-year-ago self?

Right now, I am in a situation where I really feel content about the type of work I’m involved with although I’m still not done perfecting my own style. All in all, I am pretty grateful where I am now already.


There is this famous quote, “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.” How much does this apply to your current work as a photographer?

This is very accurate and applicable in my case! Of course there are assignments that you prefer over others, but not everything can be the way you want. I am a bit more selective now than I used to in the past, but I am still always open to new experiences and things I haven’t done yet.

I guess you could say that I'm grateful every single day that I can make a living with my passion.







How would you describe a perfect Mark Bolk picture, and what are the moments and portraits you love shooting with your camera the most?

I think I would describe it as close as possible to my object. I also want to be as close as possible myself  to really feel the connection. I think that’s also the reason why I prefer shooting portraits with wide angle lenses . For me it is super important to keep the moment as real as possible. That’s why I like taking pictures of people the most. Because you just can’t fake such a moment.


You’re a master of the portrait. Where is the fascination with taking pictures of humans coming from? From the technical aspects to the human connection, can you walk us through what it takes to snap a really good portrait?

It really depends on the person you take the portrait of. For me personally, its all about the connection you build with your subject. With some people you have that kind of connection immediately, but some people are less comfortable in front of the camera. That's completely fine for me and to be honest, it is really important that they show that and don’t try to hide it. I am always interested in the person who is in front of my lens because that person also takes his/her time to be with me so sometimes I try to loosen the atmosphere by simply having a good conversation before the shoot.

Funnily enough, street photography is not that different (in my case). Only that the conversation happens after I took a snap of a particular item or moment.







You are born and raised in Rotterdam. What does the city mean to you personally and what role did it play in your development as a photographer?

Rotterdam means a lot to me, it really shaped me to become the person I am today. I grew up in Rotterdam West for the most part and was always surrounded by so many different cultures. It really showed me that everyone is equal.

What I also noticed is that this multicultural upbringing taught me to adjust easily to new situations and never be afraid of the unfamiliar in respect to my work as a photographer now.


Next to portraits, we see a lot of street snaps on your Instagram. What makes a Rotterdam street snap so different from a street snap taken anywhere else in the world?

I don’t exactly know how to describe it but I think it has definitely something to do with how proud I of this city and like a sort of rawness. The character of people on the streets is so straight forward, never polished and I think that’s the magic of the city.







What are some of your favorite areas in Rotterdam and which parts are the most photogenic in your opinion?

My favorite part of Rotterdam is still Rotterdam West. I’m also very happy that my studio, where I do my editing and scanning, is located there. Whenever I need some inspiration I just walk over to Nieuwe Binnenweg or Kruiskade and come back fully refreshed and sometimes with some pictures. So for me, this area is probably the most photogenic. At the same time, I also really like Noord and Zuid. Both have their own magic.


You also tend to bring a compact film camera with you wherever you go. How important do you think it is to bring more authenticity and realness to Instagram, and why exactly is analog photography such a good tool for it?

I also never bother to take a bigger camera since the important aspect is that I at least HAVE a camera with me so I won’t regret when I see something cool that day. But indeed, these days I focus more on analog photography. I think that what I like the most about it is the fact that you force yourself to think longer about what you photograph and you challenge yourself much more with light situations.


If you could only shoot one film for the rest of your life, which one would it be and why?

To be honest, I still need to try a lot more films out to really find out what suits me the most but if I needed to decide right now, I would choose Fuji Pro 400H because I recently shot two packs of those and really liked the colours of that film.







How important are personal projects in between paid gigs for you? Do you set yourself goals when you embark on these projects or do you jump into them with a blank canvas mentality?

It really depends. Sometimes, I have an overload of projects and don’t even have time to do personal projects. After such a busy period, I want to relax and really just have the urge to just go out there and take some snaps to remind myself of the reason why I started to take pictures in the first place. It's all about capturing and showing the world through my eyes.


You’ve been friends and family of WOEI since the very beginning, capturing most (if not all) of the stores milestones. What role do sneakers play in your life and how did this love affair begin?

Sneakers play a super important role in my life. When I was young, a friend of mine came back from his holidays in the States with a pair of sneakers and I also wanted to have the same shoes he had under his arm. Of course I didn’t have that kind of money but I begged my parents so badly until they got it for me. At that point I still skateboarded sometimes so within a few weeks there was a big hole on the side (Now I get why my parents never wanted to get me new shoes...).

But from that moment on, the whole sneakers thing started and I never wanted anything else hugging my feet. Since then, I started to be more involved with the latest releases and actively tried to get my hands on them. On a side note, I still have that first pair tho!







What are you up to when you’re not behind the lens? What are some Mark Bolk’s go-to spots in Rotterdam?

Unfortunately, now with the lockdown there are not a lot of possibilities to go out but usually I like to drop by the Cafe Bakkeliet Terrace in West, just watching people walk by while enjoying a beer. On other occasions, you can catch me at a Museum exhibition or catch a movie at Kino.


So what’s next for Mark Bolk? What are the goals for the near future and what is a big long-term dream of yours that you want to realize?

I still want to do commercial things and get even bigger assignments but I also hope that I can take my photography to a different level and focus more on documentary work or maybe even combine those two. Hopefully, with that comes traveling so I hope the lockdowns are over as soon as possible so I get excited about meeting new people in new environments that results in an exhibition that I fully stand behind.

I am fully motivated so I hope that’s just a matter of time.







Photography by Rough87.





All three colorways will be available Friday, April 16th instore and online at Woei.

Price: €110,-