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2014, Photography

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I haven’t vanished. I haven’t stop blogging. And I haven’t stop photographing. When I started this year I was certain that I wasn’t going to work with a new years resolution. My photography and expectations might have changed, and for some it really did. For the better or worse. It all leaves me with doubts. I need to remind myself that I do this all for me and for a dear friend who supports me with my photography since 2007.

But truth be told that I never was so close to pulling the plug then last holidays season. The extreme doubts took their place and almost did their harm, but I couldn’t just make that happen. Talking with my friends helped me to realize that it wasn’t all for nothing. Maybe I’m too concerned about my legacy, too concerned about my intentions, my directions.. Some say you do it all for yourself, but I think that is not really fair anymore. I mean, I realize that others appreciate my photography and writing. But I like to able to change and develop without constrains. And sometimes I led the pressure add unwanted constrains.

I notice that some years the photography goes up and that other years you really struggle. It was intense in our family in the past, but we’ve made such an incredible progress. Photographically speaking 2012 was a turmoil. I stopped my photo a day project in the spring when it really felt like a mirror to me. I did the photography series for Pentax Ricoh in preparation for Photokina and I finished of with my own photo book Saudade. It felt like a closing chapter. It all likely affected my photography. And who says photography can’t be self-reflective?

Last year felt like a year of starting all over again. And start-ups go with ups and downs I guess. And when I did the interview with Don Springer for the photography online magazine Inspired Eye I questioned whether I was a photographer. In David Hurn and Bill Jays book I read the quote: “You are not a photographer, because you are interested in photography.” And that summed it up how I really felt.

Despite not having any resolutions I am trying to figure out how to continue with my photography. The photographs you normally see posted on my blog are not necessarily part of a project. They meander for me like a stream of consciousness. When working on my book I learned that it felt truly liberating to go through my work. And for this year I like to keep more time free between photographing now and the editing. I want to sift through my previous work now and maybe present them in a more unified matter on my blog. I know the project mind helps many, but works counterproductive for me. Sure a lot of projects can be meaningful and important to some, but I tend to filter these like the continuous feeds of information on TV or the internet. Unless the photographs really captures me. I just get out and see what comes up. Remember that what draws your attention is very much related to how you feel at that moment.

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The same could be applied on story telling too. Should all serious photography be story stelling? Should a photograph tell a story? Photographs can be interesting too in my opinion when a series of photographs are well thought sequenced without telling a story. And maybe these photographs might still be perceived as a fictional story by the viewer and that is also the strength of images. The truth is in the eye of the beholder.

So you see, why bother about how others should photograph? Instead remain curious and keep asking questions instead of defining the rules and requirements. Changes will still happen anyway, no matter how hard you try to defend your current understanding of the medium. Ansel Adams once said: “No man has the right to dictate what other men should perceive, create or produce, but all should be encouraged to reveal themselves, their perceptions and emotions, and to build confidence in the creative spirit.” The role of art has largely changed in my opinion. Some dislike the “self-role” in art (and photography) and think it needs to be there for a greater good. And in the past this certainly used to be so. Now, “you” have become important. The stage has become smaller, while the means to share have become more universal. What you make is what you think is relevant and it may well differ from what others think.

I might photograph on a daily basis, but in the end week not have more than 35 photographs. Often less. It reminded of what Don wrote in his blog post: “Don, why do you need 70 rolls of film that you can’t afford so easily to make 3 photos? Don’t answer! Just think about a possible answer.” Read the rest here. Don’t let others fill in the answers for you, but question yourself and others to move forward.

All photographs by Wouter Brandsma

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2013, Photography

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I have been sick during the Christmas days and seriously had no time to come up with a look back at the year 2013. No list with my favorite photographs, no list with best read blog posts. No, none of that. Not even a list of photographic resolutions for 2014.

You see, I have no clear expectations with my photography. I prefer to get in a flow. Less is really more, it is all I can say. I don’t work with projects in mind and when I read descriptions of art I might do it all wrong. Thank God that there are no rules to obey in art. Maybe art isn’t or shouldn’t be self-expressive, but I think that without not understanding and able to express your own personal feelings how can you be able to add subtense to an ongoing conversation?

Just search the web for ‘is art self-expressive’ and ‘is art not self-expressive’ and you get tons of opinions. I really wonder how much an image maker should be worried about these artistic discussions. Did Vincent van Gogh really care about the on-going conversation that art supposed to be when he cut off his ear and made his well known self-portrait? When I get the feeling that this painting was really a cry for help. And remember that Van Gogh likely sold one piece during his life and became acknowledged after his death as an artist. I think it is perfectly fine that the artistic intentions of the maker may be completely different from the observer point of view.

I absolutely believe that pretty much everything is evolutionary. And studying and understanding the past and what previous masters did can help with that. It sure makes a lot more sense to read books, visit museums than keep buying new gear in the hope that it improves your photography. But when we keep copying the copied it looses the original intent and it becomes just a hollow shell. A conversation won’t be everlasting and sometimes you have to start new conversations with different companions. I think this is where personal knowledge, experience and intuition can make a difference.

I might have it all wrong though. It may be a big “No” for others, but the number one reason I make photographs is because I do it for myself. I do what I like to do. My work is based on my own knowledge and personal feelings. There are my photographic sketches, trying to leave room for interpretation. Light, outlines and dark spaces.

All photographs by Wouter Brandsma


2010, Photography

I am not directly saying that I left my inspiration bumb behind, but I am getting new ideas though for my photography. I have been reconsidering some of the directions my photography took. Some feel good, like my photography with the dSLR. The usage of longer focal lengths. I will continue to work more on isolation in combination to what I feel do best, landscape photography. I really miss it, the calmness I experience when I am out in the great outdoors. The search for great isolated subjects.

I will be focusing less on street photography and more on portraits and still life. Street is fun and I enjoyed it, but mostly to step out of my comfort zone. I do feel that the progress wasn’t as fast as I wanted it to be, but I have to be realistic. I don’t live in a big city. My hometown is a sleeping suburb and I just don’t have enough time to pay more visits to larger cities. I read somewhere the suggestion to lock yourself up in a room in your house and only leave it after you take 50 photographs inside that room. I like that suggestion and will try that more often.

When it comes to gear I keep on using the Ricoh GRD1 as a sketch book, but want to use my dSLR more extensively. In fact, I really want to go full frame and will try to get myself a Canon 5D this year to use with my Zuiko 50mm f/1.4 lens. Simplify, simplify, simplify.

To more easily find some of my articles I am slowly changing some of the lay-out of my blog within the limits/restrictions of As a starter I added a new page called Impressions with a list of cameras I wrote about. The list of camera impressions will be extended soon.

And a final note, at RedBubble I have some prints for sale and will add more photographs this year to see how that works.

All photographs by Wouter Brandsma