“Fish Discover Water Last” is about rediscovering your own habitat. For 18 years, I have lived in Zandvoort, a small coastal town in the Netherlands. As time passed, I developed a blind spot for the beauty of my surroundings. After considering a drastic move away—and ultimately deciding to stay—I was prompted to reconnect with my environment. Whole worlds existed close to home, and yet I hadn’t probed their depths.

I approached Zandvoort as a stranger; as if I were visiting for the first time. The people, their habits, the buildings, the pace of the city—all of it was new to me. For months, I wandered around documenting people and objects that I was drawn towards.

Each person seemed like a compendium of choices and paths. I loved being part of their lives for a brief moment. As for the objects: they are pure habitants. Tenants without any layering of significances. They just are. In this series, I documented the version of Zandvoort in which I feel at home.

—Simone Peerdeman

Editors’ Note: This project was recognized by the jury of the LensCulture Emerging Talent Awards 2016—don’t miss the work from all 50 of these outstanding, international talents!

Peerdeman’s book Fish Discover Water Last will be released in the beginning of September 2017. There will be also an exhibition at the Museum Zandvoort in the Netherlands.

If you enjoyed this article, you might also like one of these previous features: Malaga—Paracosmic Houses, collage-like portraits of homes owned by fishermen in Malaga; Offcut—The Edge, an outsider’s perspective of California; and Berlin 0500, a haunted look at the nocturnal life of Berlin.