photography, photograph, street photography, stroll photography, light, darkness, shadows, color, street, urban, night, wouter brandsma, ricoh, ricoh gr, pentax, ricoh gr digital, light and shadows

Thought(les)s

2013, Photography

Almost two weeks passed by since I mentioned that much in my personal life – work related – would change. Knowing that in a year, at most two, I need a new job to support my family and pay the bills it made sense to thing thoroughly about my near future. To what extend could photography help me with that? What other valuable options are available? And what is really my relationship with photography?

photography, photograph, street photography, stroll photography, light, darkness, shadows, color, street, urban, night, wouter brandsma, ricoh, ricoh gr, pentax, ricoh gr digital, light and shadows

I love to work, I need to work. I work hard and I wouldn’t mind working for myself. I am pretty good at what I do and have over 10 years of experience and gained knowledge. It may not be the most beloved job, but I am passionate about working hard. I love my job. It might not be as glamorous, but it allowed me to be a photographer too.

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And I love to photograph, I do my best to become better and learn every day. In fact I am very passionate about it. So passionate though that I decided it is not worth it to me to become a professional photographer.

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There are over 15 professional photographers in my home town, a town with 65,000 inhabitants. Most of them do weddings, portraits and corporate photography. Probably commercially the most attractive genres, unless everyone tries to succeed there. You need to work really hard to get there. Following your passion won’t make difference.

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To me however, that passion drives me. Photography is my personal outlet, my therapy. It helped me when my son was diagnozed autism. It forced me to get out when I was recovering from my back problems. And it will likely help me next year when the going gets tough. That passionate outlet is there for me as a person, not a money maker. For me it is an emotional ride and with that my expectations of quality may vary. Sure I could deliver always, but I don’t want to.

photography, photograph, street photography, stroll photography, light, darkness, shadows, color, street, urban, night, wouter brandsma, ricoh, ricoh gr, pentax, ricoh gr digital, light and shadows

What next though? I want to work on some long term projects covering the region I live in.  Also a lot more urban photographs in the darkness (like these in this blog post). I will for sure do more landscape photography. When I am calm and patient (or in need of) I prefer landscape photography. For anything else I stroll the streets and cover it. Bringing it all together is an amazing feeling. That is what matters to me. And these landscape photographs? They look amazing printed large, especially on someone else’s wall.

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Photograph by Wouter Brandsma

47 thoughts on “Thought(les)s

  1. You have my deepest respect in the way you encounter the struggle you’re going through, and the way you decided that you let photography remain as a passion, not a moneymaker. It helps me in my own search for a new job, struggling to find something that really drives me, makes me happy and is of significance, of purpose…………….just my thoughts, and thank you for sharing yours!

    1. I am modest about my foot print, both in my daily job and my photography. Most don’t know me now, and even less will know me when I’m gone. Like you I want to fill my time with a purpose, soul, and compassion. Something we’re passionate about is not always the best replacement and future. I need photography, I really need it. I need it for myself.

  2. Donkere dagen; je verhaal geeft de donkerte een extra, persoonlijke lading. Mooie serie die ondanks veel duisternis, voor mij, toch over licht gaat. Het beste; groet, harrie.

  3. Love these lights!
    Wouter, you are a ‘professional’ photographer…you are just free to photograph what is important to you, and that is a wonderful thing. Whether you are getting paid or not, just keep working. Your work is appreciated.

    1. Thank you Sherri. Although I am not going to add anything to the everlasting discussion what a ‘professional’ photographer is. I like to stay true to myself. That is what matters to me.

  4. As ever Wouter, you are a voice of reason. I understand the rationale behind your decision. Doing photography full-time for commercial gain could easily kill the thing that drives you to take the photographs that bear your distinctive hallmark. And we would all be poorer if that were ever to happen. I wish you well in your search for a solution. I am convinced that some day, your passion for photography will bring tangible rewards but they will be small compared to the rewards you photography is achieving at present and this set of images amplifies the point.

    1. Solutions are everywhere and problems drive new possibilities. That is for sure. For now the reward is connecting with others, even though it may only be a few. Thank you.

  5. These photos are amazing and tie into what you’ve expressed about your passion for photography. Beautifully done – thank you for sharing the photos and your personal thoughts.

  6. Beautifully written and expressed. And the accompanying photographs are an eloquent argument in and of themselves for remaining true to … the passion and the vision that inspire you.

    I am reminded of something the novelist Jon Krakauer wrote, in his book ‘Into the Wild’. He says – “The very basic core of a man’s living spirit is his passion for adventure. The joy of life comes from our encounters with new experiences, and hence there is no greater joy than to have an endlessly changing horizon, for each day to have a new and different sun.”

    It’s the same with photographing subjects – each day different – but each day a way to discover something new through your images and photographs. Krakauer says, “make each day a new horizon” –

    He could be talking about your photographic journey, Wouter.

    And from the other side – that of someone who looks at and appreciates your images – please keep creating them.

    Miguel

    1. I sure do hope though that my story ends better than that of Chris McCandless. Thank you for mentioning Krakauer’s quote. There are many ways to be on an adventure. It is a great strength to always see something new and different.

  7. Professionals tell me its very hard to make a good income from photography these days and most do it for the love of it.

    The salesmen at my large camera store in the city tell me they all work part time as photographers and part time in the camera store as there is no way to make enough money to support their family and pay off their homes. I guess with all the new digital technology and smart phones, everyday people can all take pretty good photos and do not necessarily need to hire a photographer for portraits or family type pictures.

    Looking on the internet, there are just so many photographers who enhance their images with editing (which I hate doing) that I guess there is too much competition for work. Once, a few months ago, a very well known photographer posted step-by-step how he had edited & processed his images. When I saw his original photo, I realised that it was really no better than my own amateurish efforts. I discovered it was the editing that he was skilled at, not taking the photo. Shame about that. I was so disappointed.

    If I was you I’d keep it for a hobby which you’re passionate about and really enjoy. I wonder if some of the fun would be gone if you had to make a good living to support your family by doing photography.

    1. I certainly believe that the democratization of technology lead to rapid changes in the business. They use to say it would take you at least 10,000 hours of practice to become really good, but nowadays it takes you only 20 hours to become above average good. Your story reminds me a shoot we had earlier this summer with a local professional photographer. He used no additional lightning or reflectors. He knew I photograph too, but every time he said he would deal with it in Photoshop. By the time to send us the first edit I basically last all my confidence in them. Presumably that is what people nowadays expect from a photographer.

      No Victoria, I stick to my passion as an amateur photographer. There are other meaningful and joyful manners of supporting my family. And let photography remain what it is for me now. Changes will eventually evolve, but naturally.

  8. The night photographs are so fine and gentle. The difference of the original CCD and an APS-C can be seen easily when doing these moody night shots. And you’re right about when seen in larger scale, as a print. I enjoy it.

    I believe photography is also a game of patience and perseverance. I can’t tell how far down the road I’d keep shooting like what I’m doing, perhaps one day life changes and no way to keep up with it. Enjoy while we all still can.

  9. The tension between amateur and professional is interesting to consider and like you, I choose not to mix money (and marketing) with my art. If, however, you can find a way to make more books, I’m sure many in your online following will buy them. It’s not a living, but maybe it pays for new cameras once in a while.

    Stay true to yourself and you’ll never go wrong.

    1. I decided to do so Richard. I stay true to myself and my photography. I do intend to start selling prints. Books and even some downloadable images might be part of it too.

  10. Wouter,
    if it helps- DHL gave me the golden handshake 5 years ago . I managed to walk into a better job. But that was because I had prepared a line of escape always. And the push from DHL was what I needed to make the jump. Perhaps you too are receiving the push that will let you make a jump that cannot be considered (family etc) otherwise. My only worry now is I have no escape plan for this job if it goes belly up…
    As always , great pictures. There must be a way to make ’em moneymakers too. Perhaps you could prepare a DVD “Wouters World. Now for You” and teach us all how the techniques are done. The art/talent part will be up to us! If it goes viral on the net you wont talk to us anymore….

    1. I don’t have that high expectations Paul. There are so many out there. I want to sell prints though and possibly images people can print them self.
      Since everyone in the firm looses their job I am not sure the golden handshake will be that good. I am working on a list of items I need to start something.

  11. I made the same decision about my visual art career many years ago. I’m so glad I kept it as my passion and not my vocation. I still made money off the resulting works from time to time, but the money didn’t control the artwork, and I was free to express in different directions and continue the inner journey creating artworks afforded me. I believe I’m much richer for the experience of following my muse. I’ve never had a lot of money, but I always seem to have enough, and that simple steady, more ‘normal’ job I have maintained allows me the freedom from fear and stress that keeps my creative ability strong.
    All the best in building your future!

    1. I totally agree with you. The normal job allows me to maintain free and independent in my photography. I think you made a smart move Sheri. Now it can make sense concurring our fears though.

  12. Hi, Wouter. Very nice of you to share your sincere thoughts. And I really like your pictures, perhaps especially the last one.

  13. For me it is an emotional ride as much as it is for you, my friend. Both ways: The things I do photograph & these frames I look at. It’s passion & I decided that it will stay a passion, not a profession. Because that’s what makes me go outside & that’s what keeps me accompanying through these beautiful nights which are my favourite time of the day. Thanks for another great & thoughtful & emotional ride, Wouter!

    All the best & safe travels, Fritsch.

    1. I use photography to express myself, to be myself, and to make it simple again. There is so much complexity around us. Light though is simple although it can be sensed in so many diffetent ways. Lets keep that passion alive Fritsch.

  14. Wouter,Thank you for your wonderful photo” s at night(dawn).It inspires me to take better phota”s . Go on with your hobby and please diplay your results.Hans Klaarenbeek.
    Date: Sun, 27 Oct 2013 19:02:07 +0000
    To: haklaarenbeek@hotmail.com

  15. Dear Wouter,

    Everyone has ups and downs some time during their lifetime. It is how you cope with it and come through it that shows the strength of character.

    I have full faith that you will also overcome your struggles and come out to be a stronger and wiser person.

    Wishing you the Best of Luck.

  16. Heel fraaie serie en dito persoonlijk verslag. Herken de worsteling deels en snap zeker de keuze om fotografie een passie te laten blijven.
    Succes met alles en verheug me voor de toekomst op verdere mooie series.

  17. Wouter,

    I think you could earn some money from photography part-time while continuing your pursuit of photography as your passion. The photography website PetaPixel is looking for people to write articles for them (presumably for money) http://petapixel.com/jobs/ I think you could also offer “stroll photography” tours of your region in the Netherlands – maybe you should contact Eric Kim about this and perhaps partner with him or one of the local photographers http://erickimphotography.com/blog/ . Perhaps there is some way you could do promotional work for Ricoh/Pentax (I was the one who mentioned you should become their creative director!). You seem to understand what their cameras are about more than they do:)

    David

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