Continuation

2018, Photography, thoughts

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I hoped to get on a more regular blog posting schedule, but it didn’t happen. Instead I have been working really hard on my mental and physical recovery. I’ve come a long way since acknowledging my burn-out last year. I feel stronger, both mentally and physically. I especially use positive mindfulness to make me feel stronger, happier, and more positive. Interesting how much we can alter our perspectives and force our minds to get a more positive outlook. And I’m curious how it will affect my photography.

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More than ever I feel my phone is more than enough for my photography. The simplistic interface, no distractions, and the awareness of the camera’s limitations makes it my absolute favourite camera to use. The ability to change the camera user interface by changing apps and using airdrop to easily download photographs or videos to my Mac is absolutely fantastic. My real cameras start to collect dust, seriously.

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You see, we have our preferred processes. Some like film, some like rangefinders, some like landscapes, while others like portraits. I’ve written before that gear is just so much more popular to write and read about. It is easily consumable, while becoming a better and a more completed photographer takes so much more.

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That is however so difficult to understand and requires a different and whilfull mindset from the photographer to focus more on images instead. It is a popular subject to rant about. And honestly, often fueled from negative experiences.

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So why I should I be bothered about it? I shouldn’t! Do what you want, and feel good and happy about that. It is your path, your effort to personal fulfillment. Whatever that may be. Just do what feels right.

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I’m after my personal fulfillment too. And last year, with my depressed thoughts, the low self esteem, and lack of personal fitness, I was on a completely different path. Now, I feel completely different. I’m still the same person, but with another, more brighter outlook. And I’m trying to figure out how this affects my photography. I’m in search of a new beat, another rhytm, a flow that mixes well with my personal life and work.

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All photographs by Wouter Brandsma

WEEK COLLECTION 31

2018, Photography

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It has been a long time since I posted something on my blog. Last year I took you with me on my struggle with a burn-out. I have come long way since them, but I’m still not at a point where I want to be. It is often a two steps forward, one step back process. And I need to take my time. I am able now to deal with doubt and anxiety. And I see and feel a lot more positiveness.

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One of the things I strongly notice is the desire to get out and photograph again. And I also sense a strong emotion that is withholding me from doing it. Photography is on my mind though. I gradually try to find a balance between family, work, and creating time and space for my photography again.

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I know, and also strongly believe, that I will start making photographs again. I long for the feeling of getting in a flow again, the stream of unconsciousness. I don’t feel the need to push it.

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So today’s collection is a small and moderate set of photographs from all the weeks I didn’t share any work.

All photographs by Wouter Brandsma

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Detached

2014, Photography

photography, photograph, wouter brandsma, light, shadow, ricoh gr, detachement

In December I promised myself to not immediately ingest and edit my photographs. To let it “marinate” for a while. For the sake of more conscious editing and objectivity. Sound advice, sounds logical too. Also to keep these photographs more for myself. I’m just having a harder time with my photography. And sharing is making yourself vulnerable too. Even more so when it still all feels one directional. Uh, funny that we still call photography a form of communication though.

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Okay, so marinate them. Strange word. We marinate food to flavor it and to tenderize tough meat. Marinating food may last seconds or a couple of days. But my photographs? Really? I hate it, I so deeply hate it now. Do we have any idea what we all suggest as good advices? A project, one camera one lens, a book, prints, editing by others, get out of your comfort zone, Canon, Nikon, believe in film! Did I forget the Fuji X-series? We can all make lists, easy peasy. You wanna hear a good advice? Stop listening to others, but I admit that even I fail to do so. You can’t marinate food too long before bacterias make it impossible to consume safely. And when we try to preserve food for much longer we just pickle it. And it starts to taste salty or sour. I don’t want salty or sour photographs, do you?

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Back to that marinating thing. Last weekend I went through almost 2 months of photographs. A first edit, post processing…………. It did nothing. It really did nothing. There was no added flavor. And it didn’t tenderize it at all. It was hard to chew and swallow. I got detached from my own photographs. No excitement. Oh sure, too much excitement is a lousy advisor for a photographer. It is just a lot bunch of crap. Or at least for me. I killed the excitement, I forgot the moments. It is all gone. Almost 2 months of photographs. And all I feel is detachement. So much for that sound advice to marinate your photographs. It is all salty and sour now which sounds like pickling to me.

photography, photograph, wouter brandsma, light, shadow, ricoh gr, detachement

But what about your older photographs? You know, the ones from say a couple of years ago? You feel detached from those? No, simply stated. No! I still remember I took them, when I edited and processed these and when I decided to share them. All that makes a photograph for me. I still know what I saw and felt, because I kept those moments alive. Right after the moment I took them. Exactly that excitement that everyone warns you for. That overexcitement that should be your worst advisor. Or at least the lists tell me so.

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Now I just feel numb. I try to remember these moments again, but it doesn’t come easy. Bringing back moments. Sure I care that my photographs are good. Good for me, so I don’t really care that my photographs are really good. I rather have garbage I feel emotionally attached to than “marinated” photographs that sucked my life out of it. Just for the sake of being really good. Does that all makes sense? It does somehow to me… I think.

It doesn’t make sense to me to rationalize photography. It is passion, it is all about feelings. I just need to convince myself to listen more often to my inner voice. Avoiding this detachement.

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All photographs by Wouter Brandsma

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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

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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.

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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