Rieza is a great guy. Not only is he a brilliant scientist whose PhD defense ceremony I got to photograph last week, but he’s also an engaged citizen (he was the first foreign PhD candidate to serve on the University Council at the University of Groningen), a creative soul (he and I were both members of student music association Bragi), and a great photo model. This is technically the second time I’ve had him in front of my camera – the first time was back on a misty, freezing winter day, and the weather has been so disorientingly warm that it seems hard to believe that such conditions could ever exist here, especially when youre glasses are fogging up from the exertion of taking pictures or, more taxing, defending years of research.
The rules of photographing a PhD ceremony differs from one university to the next in the Netherlands, and Groningen is all about pomp and circumstance. Photographers aren’t allowed to take any pictures during the actual defense portion so as to not to distract the candidate, which means that it’s always a bit of a mad dash to photograph as much as you can after the beadle strikes his ceremonial staff and announces “hora finita” – but I really love the contrast of the sense of formality during the defense, the palpable sense of nervousness before and mid-way through the ceremony, and the huge wave of relief and joy once that degree is in hand. This is my fifth PhD ceremony photo assignment so far, but this one did have a special advantage: rich Indonesian lay cake that was flown in just for the reception. Congratulations, Rieza, and thanks for having me!