photography, photograph, Rijksmuseum, art, paintings, Nachtwacht, people, light, shadow, light and shadows, wouter brandsma

Forward

2014, Photography

photography, photograph, Rijksmuseum, art, paintings, Nachtwacht, people, light, shadow, light and shadows, wouter brandsma

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.

photography, photograph, Rijksmuseum, art, paintings, people, light, shadow, light and shadows, wouter brandsma

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

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.

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

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.

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

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.

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

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.

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

Photograph by Wouter Brandsma

Mellow stroll

2013, Photography

When you’re mellow and comfortable you take the things you feel and see differently. It can take the stress out your images. Life is grant.
photography, photograph, street photography, stroll photography, street, canal, black and white, Utrecht, the Netherlands, bridge, ricoh gr, gr ricoh, pentax, pentax ricoh, light and shadow, ricoh gr digital, wouter brandsma
It makes you aware that so much can be framed.
photography, photograph, gate, light and shadow, cyclist, people, street photography, stroll photography, street, Utrecht, ricoh gr, gr ricoh, ricoh, gr, pentax, pentax gr, pentax ricoh, wouter brandsma
That you don’t need to see everything to understand what you’re seeing. Light and shadows can be so powerful.
light, shadow, light and shadow, wall, street photography, stroll photography, photography, photograph, ricoh gr, gr ricoh, ricoh, pentax, pentax ricoh, pentax gr, ricoh gr digital, wouter brandsma
It even can bring you in a nostalgic mood again. Although the scenery in the Dutch city of Utrecht is quite nostalgic too. The city known for the peace and friendship treaties of Utrecht from 1713 that helped end the war against Spain.
photography, photograph, street photography, stroll photography, Utrecht, canal, nostalgic, ricoh gr, gr ricoh, ricoh gr digital, pentax, ricoh, pentax ricoh, wouter brandsma
Reminds you too that you’re never alone on the street, always accompanied.
photography, photograph, street photography, stroll photography, woman, poster, never alone, light and shadow, wouter brandsma, ricoh gr, gr ricoh, ricoh gr digital, pentax, pentax ricoh
No matter how obsolete the place even looks like.
street photography, stroll photography, photography, photograph, utrecht, obsolete, demolish, people, sitting, tree, ricoh gr, gr ricoh, ricoh gr digital, ricoh, pentax, pentax ricoh, wouter brandsma
In two weeks I try to post my impressions of the Ricoh GR. Also soon I will post a series of photographs I took at the former industrial complex Zollverein in Germany. I posted a teaser on Flickr.

All photographs by Wouter Brandsma

cyclists, light, shadows, sunset, green, color, colour, photography, photograph, agriculture, rural, sky, trees, light and shadows, ricoh gr, gr ricoh, gr, ricoh, pentax, pentax ricoh, pentax gr, ricoh gr digital, ricoh grd, gr digital, wouter brandsma, landscape, landscape photography, stroll photography

Not forgotten

2013, Photography

I used to photograph a lot in agricultural areas nearby my hometown. I love the pace their, the scenery, the light. It makes me feel relaxed. The area brings back memories of cycling there with my grandfather when I was young. The area also emphasizes simplicity. There isn’t that much we really need.
cow, light, shadow, fence, green, color, colour,  photography, photograph, agriculture, rural, sky, trees, light and shadows, ricoh gr, gr ricoh, gr, ricoh, pentax, pentax ricoh, pentax gr, ricoh gr digital, ricoh grd, gr digital, wouter brandsma, landscape, landscape photography, stroll photography
In the last few years I started to photograph different subjects – a lot of it with the genre street photography – that I like to call stroll photography. I still like that, just wandering around. I missed going out in the nearby rural country though.
barn, agriculture, rural, color, colour, photography, photograph, landscape photography, stroll photography, trees, meadows, grass, sky, light, shadow, light and shadow, ricoh gr, gr ricoh, ricoh, gr, pentax, pentax ricoh, pentax gr, ricoh gr digital, ricoh grd, wouter brandsma
So last week was such a moment again. Late in the evening, the breeze was getting chilly. The light however was gorgeous. I was almost running out of time. I took my bike, the camera, and a desire to capture some of that light. I had not forgotten it.
grass, breeze, chill, color, colour, stroll photography, light, shadows, light and shadows, ricoh gr, gr ricoh, gr, ricoh, pentax, pentax ricoh, pentax gr, ricoh gr digital, ricoh grd, gr digital, wouter brandsma
In more recent years it would have been obvious to me to go for B&W, but it just felt like I had to go for color photographs this evening. Just like my Panasonic GF1, the Ricoh GR draws differently than my Ricoh GRD3. I almost always go for B&W when I use the GRD3. With the GR it feels not strange to go for color. Like said before, the GR reminds me of my GR1. And in the past I mostly worked with color slide film in the GR1.
cows, light, shadow, green, color, colour,  photography, photograph, agriculture, rural, sky, trees, light and shadows, ricoh gr, gr ricoh, gr, ricoh, pentax, pentax ricoh, pentax gr, ricoh gr digital, ricoh grd, gr digital, wouter brandsma, landscape, landscape photography, stroll photography, meadow, dutch light
When I am here I go for the open spaces, the light and preferably long shadows. To me, those are magical. I guess I am not a typical landscape photographer. I see a scene, I judge what the best position is – I often already know that since I know the area so well – and take a photograph, possibly two. And I move on. I don’t think about conscious framing. From experience I know what to expose for. At these moments I feel no doubt. When I photograph, there is no doubt.
tractor, road, light, shadow, green, color, colour,  photography, photograph, agriculture, rural, sky, trees, light and shadows, ricoh gr, gr ricoh, gr, ricoh, pentax, pentax ricoh, pentax gr, ricoh gr digital, ricoh grd, gr digital, wouter brandsma, landscape, landscape photography, stroll photography
The doubt can set in when I get home, just like the worries you had after an exposed film roll. Did I get the exposure right, was the subject in focus? Will my compositions work? I gave it some days to rest. To work on different things instead. And working with a new camera and familiarizing with it, doesn’t help the process either. Sometimes I wish I could forget this phase.
cyclists, light, shadows, sunset, green, color, colour,  photography, photograph, agriculture, rural, sky, trees, light and shadows, ricoh gr, gr ricoh, gr, ricoh, pentax, pentax ricoh, pentax gr, ricoh gr digital, ricoh grd, gr digital, wouter brandsma, landscape, landscape photography, stroll photography
The GR performed solid and very reliable. That the photography process felt intuitive and I completely forgot about the camera, made perfect sense in the end. A reassuring feeling and one that reminds me that the phase of adapting a different camera is over. How this process goes and how a couple of photographers are getting comfortable with the new Ricoh GR can be read here.

All photographs by Wouter Brandsma