week 18 | 2012

2012, Photography, Project

It is Saturday early morning, briefly after I took my latest photograph of this week, when I wanted to write this.

All pros has it’s cons. Every do’s has it’s don’ts. Each advantage has it’s disadvantage. For every opinion I shed there is an opposite reaction. I take my photography serious, but 125tel‘s last week’s comment had me thinking. Maybe I should take it more light weighted.

With my PAD-project I noticed that I photograph subconsciously, but every time a new week starts I worry about the next photograph for that week. When each week the first day is over I already took that photograph without noticing. I however often miss that feeling of taking something special. A split second, something otherwise unnoticed, and I already took that photograph. An effort and achievement is good, but so is fun and excitement. I long for the day not thinking about taking a photograph each day.

Week 18 is finished and I photographed continuously for 491 days.

It feels like it is OK now. OK to stop this PAD project after seventy weeks. To take it more light weighted. To do things more consciously again. To free up time to experiment and learn new things. And to be more aware of that. Or like a friend said to me: “To experience instead of observe“.

It doesn’t feel like a relief nor like a disappointment. It feels like medication. When you start using it, you know it makes sense to do so. But at some point you forget applying it and you realize you don’t need it anymore. I am at this point. It has nothing to do with pressure or with the lack of inspiration and creativity. It is just this definitive and indescribably feeling that it is time to move on. That this PAD-project is finished.

There is time for a new beginning. Or at least I hope so.

All photographs by Wouter Brandsma

week 17 | 2012

2012, Photography, Project


A week before a friend wondered if he could continue with his PAW-project (photograph a week). He felt it was fading and was full of doubts. I insisted he wouldn’t give up. And that remaiming persistent would eventuelly be rewarding. Half way week 17 he mentioned on twitter being in a flow and that excited me. And his post and photographs are worth seeing.

There is something about sharing thoughts, ideas, desires, doubts, and expectations with other photographers. Learning what they care about. Realizing that each and everyone has a desire, there own truth. And that many try to question themself without knowing what questions to ask. They like to challenge themself without knowing what they want to do.

There is so much we do subconsciously, and like editing our photographs or arranging a portfolio, it makes a lot of sense in my opinion to not rush this process. To create some distance with your work. It was certainly the best advice I got in 2008.

There is a lot we can learn from each other. By observing them while photographing, asking them what they love and fear. By realizing that the best subjects are there between the light and darkness, nearby and abroad, and that traveling doesn’t always have to be fysically.

Reason to, why I believe it makes perfect sense to share your thoughts and discuss photographic and general issues with a small group of people. Together we can strengthen and provoke each other.

And we don’t need a lot. The best subjects are often nearby, your family and friends. The places you live and work. Yesterday was such a day in the Dutch city Haarlem (the New York neighborhood Harlem was named after this city). We strolled through the city, covered for rain, drank lots of coffee, visited the Frans Hals Museum (was a Dutch painter from the 17th century Golden Age), had more coffee, and discussed a lot. Amazing inspirational days.

All photographs by Wouter Brandsma

week 16 | 2012

2012, Photography, Project

Since two years I am member of a local photography club. I appreciate the conversations, the interactions with others, and the diversity. This year, the club exists 50 years and the year will be full with celebrations, lectures, and an exhibition. Last Wednesday the members were provided a change to show their general photographic development from their start till now with at max 5 photographs. It was quite fascinating to see how people developed their style, preferred genre, and vision. Some where resistant showing their photographs when they became member of the club. Too scared for critics. Others where excited when they learned about getting a mentor.

Last year I gave the members an introduction of my work in a 20 minutes presentation. Most of the preparation time was filled with organizing and selecting photographs and thinking about an accompyning story. Since I already had my retrospective work of like 20 years of photography (20 years since I feel work became a bit better to show others), this time I had more time to think about the changes that evolved in my photography.

Even though I still have no clue whether I am on the right track or doing things properly, I have learned though that everything has been my own effort. I have never asked advices, I never got directional advices either. I am totally self taught and not technically trained or art educated. While I love photography, as a teenager I actually preferred to draw, to make sketches. And for long I searched for something similar in photography. Part of the reason why I like compact cameras.

The first time I shared my photographs with my late grand father, a former professional photographer, he felt the need to tell the horror stories of his photographic endeavours and business failure. He accentuated the negative sides. And I don’t blame him and I fully understand it too. He started photographing for completely different reasons. His father became a professional photographer in the early 20th century and my grand father was trained to take over the business. It was hard working and when cheap film development appeared on the market late Seventies he lost a lot of his customers. Photography was not a passion. It was a job.

Maybe I took photography too serious and maybe I tried too hard to be good. I too much wanted to change, forced my photography in something else I wasn’t. With the turn of the millenium I almost gave it up, until my son was diagnozed autism. I know I have said it before, but it was a changing moment. What mattered to me was photographing the things in my own life. My family, my daily routine, the mundane, the ordinary. Sketchy, like a scrapbook.

Photography, like any art form, is a powerful tool to express yourself and to reflect who and what you are. Becoming aware of that is probably one of the most significant things to learn and can finally add meaningful substance to art.

It brings me back to last Wednesday night when I started my introduction with a Agfa Click that I got from my grand father some 15 years ago. I played with that camera way before I started photographing thinking Agfa was a toy brand. These were the times that everything was simple. One of the reasons why I still like to simplify some of my compositions underneath the multi-layered personal context. One of the reasons too why I still focus mostly on the mundane, the ordinary, ’cause the ordinary is often not so ordinary after all.

All photographs by Wouter Brandsma

week 15 | 2012

2012, Photography, Project

With gaining strength in my back and leg I can finally start living my other passion again, cycling. I just love cycling, either road cycling or mountain biking. The swooshing sound of narrow tires eating up kilometers of tarmac. Finding smooth lines with my single speed on single tracks in the forest. And best of all, I hope to combine both my passions into one.

On a second note, I have been using my Ricoh camera as my primary tool for a third week in row and finally I feel comfortable again with it. For me, it is just so much pleasurable to use in B&W. And the easy accessibility of this small camera makes it a joy to use, again.

This week I felt energetic, had fun, and was full of ideas. And I think it reflects in the below photographs.


And after long personal debating I have decided to share with you a black & white high contrast Lightroom preset. Post processing is absolutely a meaningful effort to make something special of your photographs, but the essence of your photography should be your personal intentions in my opinion. You can download an archive file here with actually two Lightroom presets. The Lightroom 3 version will work in both Lightroom 3 and version 4, while the Lightroom 4 version will only work in the latter. Both presets will nit give exactly the same results due to radical changes in the adjustment possibilities of Lightroom 4.

On a personal note I still prefer the Lightroom 3 preset. I hope you enjoy this preset.

All photographs by Wouter Brandsma