Choices

Photography, thoughts

So often we say that whatever you do in life it is all a choice. But what is the meaning and value of choices when the decisions are made by others? When you’re just a mere part of a greater scheme of things? Or when you’re only option left is not really a choice anyway?

While it was a choice for many Syrians to stand up for democracy against a dictatorship, it wasn’t their choice that over 20 countries used, the protester’s desire for democracy and prosperity, as a theatre of proxy wars.

It can be a choice to vote someone mentally unfit or psychopathic into office, but in the end we’re all left harmed with the consequences.

It is sad and heartbreaking when you think you’re only option left is stepping out of this life. Thinking this week of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain. But also my former colleague David who committed suicide three years ago. Mental illness should be taken seriously. It can do harm to those affected, while family and friends ultimately left behind.

It is sad and heartbreaking when you’re being sick and your death sentence is already signed. And the only option remaining was certainly not the choice you wanted to make.

It is sad and heartbreaking that you’re choice is unwanted by others. Thinking of those who decided to leave their motherland, seeking peace, safety, and prosperity, but you’re not wanted by others.

I can’t give any sensible advice, I think. I don’t have a top 5 list with things to do. All I can say is to talk with one another. Respect each other and cherish all things in life, the beauty and ugliness, in all it’s purity. Just beware of the red signs and try to respond accordingly. I guess.

Photograph by Wouter Brandsma

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Inspiration

2018, Photography, thoughts

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I’ve thought quite a long time about this blog post. What inspires me? Not only in my photography, but as a person in general? I strongly believe that the way you photograph says a lot about you.

So my inspiration. My inspiration comes from many things, but I’d like to mention a few. It inspires me to see or feel differently. Allows me to get in a flow, or to do some mind traveling.

Music

I wished I was good at making music. Except from playing a couple of chords on a guitar, my musical talents are very limited. I do however love listening to music. And one of my favorite singer/songwriter is Jeff Buckley. Tragically, he died three years after releasing his only studio album in 1994. I still think ‘Grace’ is one of the best albums ever released.

His voice was like a music instrument and could transfer so many emotions. It always hits me.

I was born in ‘73 and grew up listening to Pink Floyd and Abba in particular, thanks to my parents. It was however ‘Ten’ by Pearl Jam that greatly influenced me, more than Nirvana. For me, like many of my generation, it echoed so many of our sentiments in the early Nineties.

And when it comes to bands I’m all in for Radiohead. There are not many bands that keep evolving like Radiohead. Other bands I like are the Foo Fighters, Queens of the Stone Age, dEUS, Sigur Rós, Soundgarden, Toad the Wet Sprocket, The Tragically Hip, and Young the Giant.

Reading

Although I had to read a lot of novels for school, I’m not a huge fan of fiction. Although not too long ago I read a wonderful book (Dutch) ‘Meester Mitraillette’ by the Belgian writer Jan Vantoortelboom about the first World War in Flanders.

Instead I love to read travel stories. Redmond O’Hanlon for instance, or Bruce Chatwin who died way too soon. For me, one of the greatest novelists and travel writer is Paul Theroux. I absolutely adore his travel books. Especially ‘The Great Railway Bazaar’, ‘The Old Patagonia Express’, and ‘Riding the Iron Rooster’ were for me great travel books.

When reading these stories I just closed my eyes and the colorfully described scenes allowed me to sense the sights and sounds.

Magazines

Back in the days when I was young I just loved to read magazines. Windsurfing, mountainbiking, photography. My number one magazine was National Geographic. It was the combination of geography, social issues, adventure, traveling, history, and photography, lots of great photography. All the things I love and am generally interested in.

So it was the reportages photographed by the likes of Sam Abell, William Albert Allard, David Alan Harvey, Alex Webb that caught my attention.

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And more

And so I could probably mention many other things that inspired me. The drawings by Rembrandt van Rijn, Johannes Vermeer‘s paintings, ‘Hollandse Luchten’ (Dutch light), William Eggleston and his color photography, among many things.

My wife and children, friendships, great colleagues, the daily commutes, road trips.

What inspires you?

All photographs by Wouter Brandsma

Thoughts on GDPR and color

2018, Photography, thoughts

‘Thought’ is maybe one of my most favourite English words. And it is very much part of my personality. When I did a Birkman method test some 18 years ago it was clear I was a thinker.

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In a week, on May 25 2018, the new EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) legislation will set in. And I wonder how that will affect us photographers. And especially those who publish work regularly on the internet or printed publications.

Now let me make clear that I don’t collect personal data. You can subscribe to my blog and you will receive an update in your mailbox whenever I publish a new blog post. The owners of wordpress.com, Automattic, also use cookies to track your internet behaviour. By next week they have to be compliant to the GDPR. I don’t run biometric software, but I’m aware that my photographs do sometimes show people’s faces. Automattic made the following statement about GDPR. If you, as a visitor of my site, want to know more about what Automattic, and it’s partners, do with the collected data, you can read that here.

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Regarding privacy concerns I try to determine how that will affect my photography. I don’t photograph on the street with consent and don’t ask those photographed for their permission to be published. I have no commercial intentions for publishing my photographs. I don’t seek payed photographic jobs or clients. I have a day-time job and photograph for pleasure, therapeutic reasons, my personal mindset and right-doing, and because I just love photography and it is very much part of me.

Privacy is still a concern to me, and I will try to keep you informed on how this new legislation and all the privacy concerns will affect my photography. So, one of my first measures is activating the EU Cookie Law widget you might notice below.

I’d like to know what you do to comply with the new regulation. And will you take the GDPR in consideration when taking photographs in public spaces?

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And when it comes to photography you might have noticed an increasing amount of color work on my blog. During my therapeutic counseling due to my burn-out I started using positive mindfulness on daily basis. And somehow using black and white in my photography didn’t feel right to me. Now looking back at my photographs from the last two months I noticed that subconsciously started to do a lot more in color. Therefore I decided to stop black and white for now. Right now, color photography syncs so much better with my current state of mind.

At some time I will try to dive deeper into this subject. And I’m sorry for my thoughts of sort on the new GDPR, but I feel an obligation to you, the readers of my blog, to make this clear.

And on a different note, when it comes to 100% photographs post (like the previous one) I will probably keep the comment section closed so all the focus will be on the photographs instead. Feel free to contact me by mail or twitter (and follow me there too).

All photographs by Wouter Brandsma

Convenience

2018, Photography, thoughts, weekly project

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I admit it, I’m all in for convenience. Since last autumn I’ve written a lot, really a lot. I used notebooks for that. Small and simple notebooks with a black cover, so I could take it with me everywhere. I wrote daily, and it helped me a lot learning and realizing what was going with me. It helped me deal with my anxiety and doubt. I still write on a daily basis, and in the meantime filled multiple notebooks.

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There is one thing though for me. 12 hours a day I’m working and traveling. I stand up at 5 am and get home around 5:30 pm. With some family time, eating, and walking or cycling, the only time remaining to write is shortly before I go to sleep. That is at 9:30 pm. And while I love the writing process, it felt restrictive to only have a short moment a day to write. Despite the size of the notebook it felt uncomfortable to write about my private life in public spaces. Also the storage thing was becoming a worry.

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What mattered to me was being able to put down those words. It really didn’t matter how, as long as I’d able to write whenever I had some time available. Not the tactile feeling, but the convenience is important to me. It is easier to type something on my phone. So now I use a cross platform notes app, so I can write on my phone or Mac. No costs, no stress of time availability. The whole writing process can easily blend in with my daily huzzle.

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It reminded me of photography when I was young, when we’re still shooting negative film or slide film since it was the only choice we had. For me, most of the time, film was expensive. I learned to be sparse on exposures, to be cost effective. It also meant waiting a long time before I processed one roll of film or sent in a slide film (and doing the framing myself).

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Now I love restraints, like using a single focal length, but when digital photography took off I was finally able to feel unrestraint from the burden of the costs. I could photograph whenever I wanted, just because of the conveniences of digital photography.

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And speaking of blending in. I photograph pretty much on a daily basis again. My commutes, my strolls, my bike rides. Not that I have any intention to restart a daily photography project, but enough to return to the weekly collections.

All photographs by Wouter Brandsma

What is next?

2018, thoughts

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I’ve run this blog since 2007, but I know I haven’t posted a lot in the last two years. Having dealt with a burn-out last year, I’m doing fine now, I started to wonder what to do with my blog. Is a blog about my own photography sustainable, should I broaden my horizon, or should I just put an end to it?

From all the social media efforts and platforms we’ve seen in the last decade I still believe blogging is still the best in the long term. In essence blogging hasn’t changed, while platforms came and disappeared. Whenever a larger company buys a platform it might grow in number of users, but also loses it’s core essence. Just look at Flickr or Instagram, in my opinion.

So I decided to keep running my blog. In what form I’m not still sure yet. Maybe it will become a combination of image(s) posts, micro blogging, and long form pieces. And maybe, or possibly, beyond photography.

I still love photography, but there is so much more I like or am interested in.

The blog is not dead!

Photograph by Wouter Brandsma