3rd party inspiration #3: Steve McCurry

This Sunday my good friend Niels and I went to an exposition of Steve McCurry in Helmond, The Netherlands. I just love the work of Steve and I’m a fan of his work for years now.

A couple of years ago he gave a presentation in Amsterdam. Another friend notified me on the event, but I couldn’t get a ticket anymore. Fully booked. I ‘compensated’ this by buying a couple of his books, hardcover and a nice large format. I used to browse the books and put the book opened on a specific page on display in my living room. I actually mounted a bookshelf specifically for this purpose. I would change the page every couple of weeks. Such an inspiration, both the stories of Steve and his photos.

The exposition showed 132 of his photos, printed big, and mounted in black, wooden frames, which were beautifully light by a carefully placed spotlight. Amazing!

As we all know, photography is about emotion. It’s about the feeling it evokes. A lot of the photos I saw triggered a good feeling in me. A feeling of the beauty in the world. Or a feeling of hope. Sometimes this feels odd, because of the terrible circumstances of the subjects. I think that’s why I relate to the photos of Steve. I’m also focused on the good, the positive and the beautiful things around me / in this world. And even when the situation is not too nice, I’m always looking to make the most of the situation.

At some point I notice that some photos didn’t work quite well for me. For some it was the content / the subject and that’s fine, right? We can’t like everything. But I also noticed that some other photos did not work for me because of the technique, or actually the quality of the prints.
Most of the images contain some amount of noise/grain. This makes the scene a bit soft. It gives the photo some specific mood. Like a dream, or a memory being recalled.

Some other photos did not contain noise/grain. For me, these photos were just too clean. Too sharp. Too much details. Too much dynamic range. Too realistic. Too perfect.

This doesn’t work for me at all. These kind of photos do not evoke the emotion that the other photos of Steve do evoke. These photos being too perfect, did not resonate within me as the others did. Quite interesting!

One of the first images I made with my first Fujifilm camera, the X-M1, I loved instantly. Accidentally, I’ve set the ISO to 2000. I had put the XF35mm (also new to me) on and I was very curious about the shallow depth of field the lens could produce. I was curious about the bokeh. I think it is still my favorite photo of my wife. Partly because of de grain, the shallow DOF and the feeling of the details being ‘filtered’. I just love this ‘filtered reality’, the mood it evokes.

Eye Contact
Fujifilm X-M1, XF35mm

I’ve been aware of this for years. I’ve embedded this style in my post processing so that I can decide if I want to apply this mood, and how much of it I want to apply. Seeing the photos of Steve printed big, side by side made me realize even more why I don’t like photos that are just too clean, too perfect.

Now I’m going to think about this. How am I going to use this awareness in my own photography style. I know myself. This will be a lot of thinking, visualizing and doing the actual tests in camera.

Looking forward to it!


Reset – Return – Add project.

We just returned from the family holiday. Three full weeks in a tent in Autrans, France. Such a luxury. Such a great time.

Besides the activities with the family, I did a lot of reading. And thinking.
I’m a person who can get really inside my head. Thinking about a lot of things, but all good. Just filled with energy. In a couple of weeks I’m starting with a new job at the office and I’m really looking forward to it. So that was in my head, sometimes. But most of the time I really did not think of work at all and thought about my family and photography. How to keep at ease when we’re returning of the holidays. Spending lots of time in nature, is one way to stay energized. The other thing is to do what you love, and in my case that’s photography and kayaking.

This blog is about my photography: Street Photography and Street portraits. I love it.
However, I find it difficult to be on the streets often enough to shoot on a regular basis. To be clear: I’m keeping the project, but the current progress isn’t giving me sufficient satisfaction. I’m commuting on a daily basis by car, which is great, but it does not get me ‘in to the city’ as public transportation would. I’m thinking of ways to adjust my thoughts on this, because there are other ways to capture street portraits and probably as well the way I’m commuting. I’m sure the output will increase soon.

But when I was thinking about this, another idea came to mind: create an additional project which does give daily opportunity. Luckily I’m with my family often. The family calendar is full. So why not capture daily live; the mundane. I’m going to commit to an additional project.

There are lots of way to document family live / daily live. I’ve given this quite some thoughts when on holiday. I’m not interested in capturing grand, precise and clear summaries of what I’m doing. I’m thinking more about triggers for my memory. Small slices of what I’m experiencing, what I see, what I feel. I want to capture those as a small series as well. That’s why, for now, I’ll call the project ‘Slices’.

A couple of examples which I made the last couple of weeks, all taken with the X-T1 and the XF35mm1.4, processed in Lightroom. I’m trying some new style here. This style is totally different then I’ve done before. The high contrast, black & white, very gritty style I’ve used most of the time, I’ll keep on using. But for this project it feels too harsh.
So I’ve tried to process in a more subtle way. Bit of muted style. Not sure if I’ll include black & white and color, or that I’ll stick with one type. Still fine tuning both processing styles, but I’m rather pleased with this muted look, so I’m close to capturing it as a preset.

3rd party inspiration 2#: Patrick La Roque

This guy is truly an artist: Patrick La Roque. I think I stumbled upon him via a podcast or so. Or via the Kage Collective. Anyhow, his work is very inspirational. A documentary style of photography, but in a very special, intimate way. And most of the time in a abstract style.

I’ve read a lot of his blog posts on his own site, and the blog posts on the site of the Kage Collective. Most of the posts consist of a sort of introduction text, or verse. The content / his thoughts are mysterious. It feels like he is writing in a diary.  The thoughts are heavy/intense. Sometimes they feel like a struggle. The text is complemented with the beautiful ‘slices’ of his life: a small series of photographs. Moments. Memories.

Sometimes you can’t identify the subject of the photo. So abstract. Sometimes it’s an intimate family capture. But not a family photo as you would take. This truly feels like the moment that once was. These photos are a tool to trigger the memory. To reactivate the moment. Oddly, his ‘slices’ even trigger moments in my memory, of my past.

And it’s not like ‘just’ taking a picture of something mundane as a lawnmower. It’s the picture of the lawnmower, and the light, and the way how he captures the lawnmower, and the other photos in that series that complement the feeling; the memory. It truly triggers a feeling.


Some of the blog posts I’ve saved in my ‘Inspiration’ folder where I can turn to whenever I need to be inspired, when I want to learn and analyse how to take better photographs myself.

Thanks for your inspirational work, Patrick!

3rd party inspiration #1: Akash

Just now I read this great article about inspiration for Street Photography. The photographer, Akash, has a great portfolio. I follow this blog for some time now and I really get inspired by his work. 

The article below really defines why I love photography and as far as I’m concerned the remarks are not limited to Street Photography. They can be applied to most photography disciplines. 

Definitely a great read and a blog to subscribe to:

An Inspired Eye: 10 tips for encouraging Street Photography