Photo essay: Bleached Renaissance (and my first-ever print giveaway!)

A photo essay, two videos and a fine art print giveaway. These are not three separate newsletters.

Mitchel Lensink
Mar 31, 2024
9 min read
a jar of bleach with a brush in it is sitting on a table, waiting to be used for customizing jeans.

Table of Contents

Dear readers,

This month's newsletter is packed, but I will try my best not to also make it long.

We're starting with a photo essay of Bleached Renaissance's founder, Emre Yasar, where we're diving into his process of turning upscaled clothing into art using an interesting combination of skills and materials. After that, I'll share a little about my rekindled fascination with photo essays. At the bottom of this missive you will find my first-ever fine art print giveaway. Yes, a free, limited edition print, to celebrate the launch of my 2023 print selection and my way of saying thanks for the support I received from you guys so far. Oh, and I've also made a video for the giveaway. I can't wait to share this all with you.

Bleached Renaissance

I got to know Emre about six or seven years ago. Originally united through music, our kindred spirits connected on all-round creativity and, as the years have passed, remained loosely affiliated through shared friends, personal projects, and a continuous pursuit to make more and better work.

Since 2020, Emre focusses most of his creative efforts on his clothing brand, Bleached Renaissance. In his own words, the essence of what he's doing is "Upcycled, rebranded, handmade items; creating Art. Not just clothing. Combining the old and forgotten with the new." The exact way he's doing that is by finding vintage, used, and new pieces that suit his style and customizing those with his designs. Emre is a skilled graphic designer, and you can tell he puts that to good use in all of his pieces. What's most interesting though, is that he adds another layer on top of this: bleach.

What attracts me about Bleached Renaissance is how outspoken the designs are and the process with which these pieces come together. Over the years, Emre has built out a solid collection of garments that he showcases in his studio and at trade fairs. Occasionally, he even ventures out by customizing other items like entire couches, which he completely decks out with his Bleached logo and signature bleach splatters. It's all very expressive and, to me, is a testament to the internal workings of an inherently creative mind.

When Emre approached me for an idea that requires several editorial photo shoots, something clicked with me. I was more than willing to listen to his proposal but was also immediately determined to make him the subject of our first in this series of shoots together. I wanted to see how he brings these pieces to life. What are his materials? What techniques does he use? Where does the work take place, and what does the space look like? Can I follow along and document that for just one afternoon, perhaps? He agreed.

Emre Yasar, in the Bleached Renaissance studio.
Applying bleach to a specific area of the jeans.

After the bleaching process, Emre hangs the jeans to dry and uses that time to remove the stock leather patch from the back of the jeans, that he will later replace with one of his custom ones.

Photo essays

My afternoon with Bleached Renaissance cemented the persistent thought that I should do more storytelling with my photography. After nearly a decade of 'figuring out what my style is,' I now firmly identify as a documentary and street photographer as that best suits my style of shooting and the subject matter I'm attracted to. I go out to the streets quite regularly, but as far as documentation goes, I wasn't sure the label fits me. Interesting documentations require proper subjects and a certain level of commitment. I seriously questioned what subject matter I was willing to make that commitment to. But is that true?

The error in my thinking was that documentary projects require a longer timeline because the only way to tell a story properly is to tell it over time, preferably with multiple interactions. While I think that approach allows you to dive deeper into a subject and tell a story beyond the superficial, I also think holding onto that notion too much makes it easier to slip into inertia. I fricking hate inertia.

To solve that problem, I decided to focus on photographing similar creative processes as Emre's, where I can move into a space for a couple of hours to look and listen closely at what somebody's doing and capture that energy. I'm particularly drawn to workflows that require interesting materials, obscure techniques, or at least some movement around an interesting space. So if you're a woodworker, painter, hairdresser, or beer brewer, it all qualifies in my book. I like finding out what makes people's hearts beat faster with the challenge of capturing the essence of that and what that looks like with my camera. There's no end goal here other than getting better at these documentations. I simply like to record these little snippets of life.

Concluding: Do you think you do something that would look good on camera? Feel free to reach out! I'm definitely looking for more creative people to photograph them and their craft, further expanding my portfolio and sharpening my documentary skills.

New prints and a giveaway

It's March 2024, and I'm launching my 2023 print collection, a selection of my favorites from 2023. That took me long enough, huh? I find it's best to sit with the work for a while before making big decisions (I'm slightly exaggerating) and this one is important to me. As I've detailed before, I'm going through my work at the end of each year to look for print-worthy images, only to come up with a handful that make the cut. I then step away for a bit and revisit after a couple of weeks to find out if I made those selects with a sane mind or in some sort of diluted haze (it happens when you look through a year's worth of photos). If the selections make sense, I will take one more look at the edit to fine-tune it for print, prepare the highest possible file sizes, and start creating product pages. Speaking of which, you can probably guess what's coming next. Please give the selection of my favorite images from 2023 a look!

Browsing through my photography archive, I noticed only a handful of the thousands of images I make each year are fine art print-worthy. That highly curated selection is now available as open and limited edition prints.

Clicking the link will take you straight to a filtered down version of my Prints collection.

I like this approach of doing yearly drops. It keeps things organized and gives a good representation of the type of work I do in a given year and how that evolves over time. It's also a timeframe long enough for me to sit with my images and not dilute my print-offering. It also keeps me on my toes throughout the year because I better come up with at least a handful of print-worthy images because otherwise I won't have anything to share at the end of the year.

To honor this special moment, I have decided to do a little giveaway! By entering, you can own a limited edition of my 2023 No. 7 Fine Art Print, worth €119,99! To enter, all you need to do is be a subscriber to my newsletter and hit the button at the bottom of this newsletter. That's it, no further restrictions. And, yes, I will ship this print worldwide. To explain things a little more, I made a video to detail the giveaway.

Is this exciting? Fun? I hope so! Here are the, if I may say so myself, very simple rules for the giveaway:

  1. Subscribe to my monthly newsletter (if you're reading this in your inbox, you are obviously already on the list )
  2. Click the button at the bottom of my March 2024 newsletter (that's the one you're reading now)
  3. Wait until April 30th for the announcement

The winner will be chosen randomly on April 29th, and if you win, I'll contact you privately. Of course, I will not publicly share your personal info anywhere, but I will share a little clip of me picking the winner in next month's newsletter to be as transparent as possible about how I do that.

That's it y'all. Click that button below to participate ✌️


I'm giving away a limited edition (1/10) of my 2023 No. 7 Fine Art Print on April 30th, 2024.

Hit the button below to participate in the giveaway.


P.S. for full transparency: I'm tracking clicks on any link in this email to determine participants in the giveaway (to the extent that I can see that you are subscribed and that you clicked on a link; no further tracking beyond that) so I've made sure to make the 'JOIN PRINT GIVEAWAY' button the only link in this email but technically the 'View in browser' link at the top, and the related posts and membership links at the bottom also count. Hardly anybody clicks those links (I presume), so I think we're good here but just in case you clicked that specific link and not the giveaway link, you will be opted into this giveaway as well. If you don't want to take delivery of this print because it's not your style or whatever (it happens!), just let me know in case you are picked as the winner (the odds are greatly reducing this even happens but you never know) and I will do a redraw of the winner. I realize I could've collected emails for the giveaway separately but I really want to keep things as frictionless and privacy-friendly as possible. Hope you understand.

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