Nightly escapades

2012, Photography

There is something interesting about photographing at night. Everything you consider so normal and not worth noticing can become interesting at night with different light.

Last week I mentioned that I stopped joining a local photography club. And this particular weekend my friend Jorge considered joining one. Maybe it is interesting to write down some of my reasoning to join it nearly three years ago and why I decided to stop my membership.

Good three years ago I saw a remarkably well curated exhibition by this photoclub in a nearby estate. The work was diverse, but of pretty high standards. After a couple of months thinking I took the opportunity to visit two gatherings early 2010. I wanted to experience personal face to face contacts with other photographers and wanted to learn how my photographs perceived by an audience when the photographs were actually printed. While the club was reasonably large (approximately 60 members), it didn’t feel too large. After I became a member I did notice that only a small group of photographers are actively sharing their work (at most 25% of all members) and even less contribute in the discussions. For what it is worth this seems like an internet forum.

I thought, and still think, that external speakers who present their own photography are the best gatherings. Then you get new ideas, interesting insights, and personal relating stories. The evenings where member’s work is displayed and discussed should be the most interesting, but I got the impression that the strength of such evenings depended on the speaker.

In my first year at the club I broke my back and missed many evenings. With the ongoing back problems in the following year I missed even more and I noticed a decline in my interest towards the club. Some of the evenings I visited I wasn’t really impressed by the work and the speakers. Motivation became a problem and I wasn’t really happy with the program that was too much out of sync with my own photography. Earlier this year a member made a bad remark concerning one of the mental problems of my son and I took that very personal.

When it comes to exploring my own photography I have to admit that the club didn’t contribute anything to that, although I never joined the club with the hope that this would actually happen. In fact, because I thought it is important to be an active member I printed quite some photographs that I displayed. But working on these and selecting them sort of slowed down my own projects I was working on. Stopping my membership now therefore feels like a relief.

During this time at the club I did see some outstanding work, and saw and heard some very interesting speakers. The club outings were the best and I met some wonderful people. I made a friend there and we share lot’s of our thoughts in our strolls, mail, twitter, and other means. That all was certainly worth it.

But there is a time to move on. I am refueling my photography, thanks to a great conversation with friend Fabian in Cologne recently. I am still actively working on a photobook and hope to finish it this year. Maybe this book will help me to edit my own exhibition too. Most importantly though I want to photograph again.

All photographs by Wouter Brandsma

27 thoughts on “Nightly escapades

  1. Interesting Wouter. I’ve noticed that most of the members of our local “photography club” seem to quite old. If I had time for such a thing I’d like a club with a more diverse membership. Do you read the Conscientious blog (link below)? They’ve been discussing a lot of new approaches to the medium of photography. That is also something I would like to see in a photography club – real discussion of both old and new approaches to photography. Perhaps I expect too much.

    And I really like this set of pictures… the shapes, shadows and balance of dark and light.

    1. In general, Andrew, I think the average age at these kind of clubs is rather high. Your local club forms no exception. And interesting you mention Colberg’s link. We, a couple of photographs, suggested some approaches on different means to stay in contact. I did however also notice a lot of hesitation regarding sharing and discussing photography online as well. Maybe I expected too much as well. I don’t have to worry about that either.

  2. I stopped going to a club because there was only one type of photography and very few from outside the mainstream. Not as diverse as I hoped.

    1. I absolutely recognize the only a few outside the mainstream part. I got the impression that too many focus on being amateur photographers instead of free photographers with unlimited possibilities and no restrictions.

  3. I’m glad to hear you want to photograph again. I can relate to a lot of what you say, and I’m just starting to feel that refueling of energy, to go out start photographing for my own projects again as well. I enjoy your work and find it inspiring, I’m glad to hear you are finding your own way, for yourself.

    1. Finding and going your own way is absolutely important and good to know that you found the energy as well to start photographing again. Good luck and thank you, Nancy.

  4. Het lidmaatschap van de fotoclub pakte niet zo uit als je wellicht hoopte, ik bewonder wel de tijd en energie die je steekt in het online en in “real life” delen van je passie voor fotografie.

    Als erkend “loner” zijn fotoclubs en meet ups nooit mijn ding geweest, maar ook het internet laat ik steeds meer voor wat het is. Foto-fora doen mij te veel aan over-analyzing en over-thinking, en op het internet in het algemeen regeert vooral het cynisme.
    Voeg daarbij in mijn geval nog wat persoonlijke dreigementen van extreem rechts via “sociale” media (want ja, er staat wel eens een medelander op mijn foto’s), en er was reden genoeg om mijn sporen op het web zo veel mogelijk te wissen. Slechts twee nieuwe websites in volstrekte anonimiteit (een voor analoog, een voor mobiel), en dat is het dan.

    Alleen nog maar foto’s maken, alle ruis eromheen buitengesloten. Het was mijn weg naar een frisse doorstart. Ik hoop dat jouw “bijtanken” ook weer veel mooi beeld gaat opleveren.

    (Normaal reageer ik liever in het Engels, maar er is nu even geen energie om mijn gedachten in het Engels om te zetten).

    1. Jij hebt het behoorlijk over je heen gekregen Robert. Ook ik heb mij op mijn blog en op twitter kritisch uitgelaten, maar behalve een Duitse Nazi (die overigens via zijn ip adres prima te volgen was) heb ik geen last ondervonden. Ik snap jouw keuze dan ook heel goed. Toch vind ik het ook wel mooi dat je een behoefte hebt om je foto’s te delen en met name dat moedig ik wel aan. Dat maakt het voor mij dan ook fotografie.

      1. Los van de praktische en tijdrovende obstakels die je tegenkomt bij het bedwingen van online schade, het heeft ook wel iets bevrijdends om zonder “verleden” een nieuwe start te maken. Dat pluspunt koester ik dus maar.

  5. Hi Wouter, thx for sharing your intriguing pictures and personal impressions. I went to a club to see if that would be fun meeting people and improve my work. But there was no click. So I left it.

    1. At least you gave it a try, which is good. Apparently there are also camera clubs, but I have no idea how they can contribute to photography. For me they are like most of the forums where they only discus cameras.

  6. Interesting post Wouter. I never found that kind of club here in my country. So, the only way that I could improve myself was studying a professional career (impossible for me as a family man with a work and 3 kids) or browsing the internet and flickr. Recently, there is a kind of movement around the lomography. Thanks to them I can buy film and started to take pictures with my pentax K-1000.
    My teachers are people like you Wouter, Jorge Ledesma and this new guy that I found recently, La Roque (he had kind words about you and Jorge when I wrote him), plus the master Daido Moriyama (I’m using my ricoh gr3 more often thanxs to him) and Anton Corbijn (the U2 era). In a way, you guys inspired me to just go and take pictures. I cant define my photography style…somedays I like black & white, next lomo films, next iphoneography, next noir style….next cross procesing and each week I take a different camera with me (k-5, K-01, Q, Ricoh, Nex 5 with a old pentax lens, iPhone, k-1000). I guess, at the end, I’m gonna find my way.
    thanxs Wouter.
    BTW, my friends asked me about my influences (hahahaha, I’m just a guy with a camera) and I’m writing a post about you guys.

    1. Like you I am a self taught photographer. It was until a couple of years ago that I started to connect with other photographers. First on flickr, later forums, and ultimately through my blog. I wanted to add some real world experience to it, but I have to admit that a club didn’t bring that. What I have learned is useful are conversations with only a few photographers, getting out with them. That way you learn a lot too.

      Thank you Pedro and always feel free to contact me.

    2. Greeting Pedro, thank you for your kind words I appreciate the sentiment and great to be in the company of Wouter and Patrick, two amazing photographers in my book.

      1. Thanxs Wouter and Jorge!!!
        Someday you should print a book together, the best of both worlds: The ancient, sometimes cold Europe and the exotic, latino flavor of Miami. Seriously guys, you are amazing!. Have a nice weekend!
        PS: If one day, any of you decide to come to southamerica, to Peru (inca ruins, colonial style, social contrast and the best food on earth), just let know. happy to be your guest or share contacts for some traveling around my country.

        1. Thank you for the offer and whenever you plan to visit the Netherlands, just let me know.

          Regarding the book that sounds like a really nice idea. Nowadays blurb have a 6×9 trade book that is small and friendly priced. And easy to take with you where ever you go.

  7. Wonderful B&W pictures. There’s so much to explore in photography but I can’t stay on one style. Graphical pictures, nature, sport, macro…. I love to jump from one to another. But your serie is great.

  8. I remember years ago I used to go to a gym for a while. I liked to go on the rowing machines for 30 minutes at a time on the hardest setting. I’d find my own rhythm and settle in. There was always somebody who would sit on the rowing machine next to mine and go a little faster than me, maybe to feel better about themselves? They would only row for 5 minutes before stopping.

    The problem I used to have was my natural rhythm would start to match theirs. There was nothing I could do to stop it (just a subconscious thing) and after 5 minutes my rhythm was messed up, I was tired and didn’t want to finish off.

    This happened time after time until one day the solution came to me. I just closed my eyes.

    I bought my own rowing machine after my gym membership ended.

  9. Well, I’d like to chime into the conversation. I’m very happy to have you say you want to photograph again. I look forward that write up when the time comes. I mean we all go through our ups and down. I know I’ve been there and in Week 39 I explained a bit on that and my reasons to photograph. You’re on the right track my friend, not that you were off track but perhaps just watching and making pictures in your mind. I’m always thinking of pictures, its a force of habit and one I can’t stop, so like you, we all have that in common ” a wondering eye” always watching, evaluating, and framing. Wouter, I would be interested to know how your wife feels about your photography, her being such an important person in your life.

    I must admit that Isabel is very supportive of my work, as you know, we don’t have any children yet so she’s my main model most of the time and is always happy to oblige.

    Celebrating life,


    1. Congrats on your week 39 Jorge. Only a few to finish the year, but probably better not to think in those terms anymore. When photographing everyday you can come beware that it makes up an important part in your life. And even when the photographs don’t meet your expectations, you still have been seeing and feeling the moments.

      It is not that I am really off track Jorge, but just feel there are many things not-photography related to deal with. The subject you mention, my wife, sounds interesting. Maybe I should do an interview with her. Like your fiancee, she is very supportive too of my photography. And more convinced too that I could succeed in photography. I am the practitioner and thinker though and combined with my doubt and anxiety doesn’t make up for the best combination to be convinced.

      1. That’s good to know Wouter. My fiancee is even encouraging me to do events in the weekends and I’m giving it some thought. Work during the week keeps very busy but the weekends are always photography related anyways. Who knows, I may give it a try. She tells me to charge clients very cheap, since the interest is not really money but more of a personal portfolio experience and also to prove it to myself that I can do this.

        She says, if you can photograph on the streets, why wouldn’t you be able to do it people that are actually paying you to photograph them. Well that sparks some thought and I’m actually thinking about in more concrete ways. She says, you gotta charge them because people unfortunately tie money to something of value and if you value your photography and you’re going to offer that service, then you have to charge and I’m thinking along those lines. New events, new journeys, so much fun Wotuer, good times and great light.


        1. If that is something you want to do too, go for it. There is in my opinion a distinctive difference between photographing for yourself or photographing for others. You and others will all have different expectations and these can vary enormously.

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