Let's discover today the impressive body of work from Harry Verschelden. Harry's biggest challenge is to improve his skills continuously. He always is in search to discover new and exciting subjects in his close environment. His discovery journey teaches us all to use our “eye” in the best way possible. Get inspired by his images and learn more about the amazing photographer. Thanks to Yvette Depaepe for conducting this interview.
Briefly tell us about yourself, your hobbies and other jobs.
I was born in the mid fifties in a small village near Antwerp. The elder sister of my mother had a wholesale business in electronic devices and the plan was that I should take over that business, so I studied in that direction although I was more interested in a creative job.
When I finished my studies, I changed my mind, didn’t accept the offer and took a simple 9 to 5 job. At that moment I already knew that this wouldn’t be for a lifetime….I started dreaming, making plans and made the big leap….quit the job and a new challenge was born.
In that period, the fashion business in Antwerp was booming thanks to the 6 of the Antwerp Fashion Academy…a lot of new model offices and local fashion magazines. Fashion was always something that attracted me a lot, knew how to use a camera, had already some experience with photo shoots, so I took the challenge and started to work for model offices.
I met a lot of interesting people, another change was coming…yoga and eastern philosophy became more and more important in my life. I quit photography and started to travel to India and the Himalayas, later on to South East Asia where I met my partner Mani.
In wintertime we live in Thailand where we have a house in the countryside. The rest of the year we live in Belgium, taking pictures and going cycling…another great passion that we share. From now on, photography is just a hobby but with more passion than ever before.
How has your history and life experiences affected your photography?
My mother had an antique shop and a private museum, she also designed beautiful hats. Art has always been a part of my life. I love everything that as a soul; it might be a painting or a sculpture, a book, music or a film. I have the need to create; it might be a photograph, decorate the house or even preparing food can be creative.
If I have something in mind I’m convinced that it will come out the way as I planned; it might be tomorrow or maybe after 10 years. This also the idea behind my photography…gathering impressions, give them time to grow and someday they will express themselves automatically.
Every moment we gather all kinds of impressions and if we meet something that can be connected with a certain impression the creation is already a fact; it’s up to the spectator to find out what’s hidden inside.
Why are you so drawn by architecture and abstract photography?
I don’t consider my work as pure architecture photography; the forms, lines and colors are the materials that I can use to make something new. Architecture is always available, someone already made it and I only have to rearrange it in the way I see or feel it and then it becomes something abstract.
Do you prepare carefully the locations where you are intending to photograph?
Most of the time I just walk around in my hometown or the nearby villages and try to re discover what I’ve seen maybe a hundred times before. If I prepare something, most of the time I come home with something completely different that I had in mind. I try to avoid places and objects that have been already photographed a million times and if I do, I try to give it my own signature so it will become almost unrecognizable.
Here are some examples of how to give your own signature to something that has been photographed a thousand times (city of science and arts in Valencia).
What gear do you use (camera, lenses, bag)?
Recently I replaced my two Canon 5D MKII with the Fuji X Pro2; much smaller and most important, less heavier.
Two X Pro2 body’s, one 10-24mm f4, one 18-55mm f2.8-4 and one 90mm f2, four batteries and some SD cards fit perfectly in my Lowepro flipside 200.
I also have a Fuji X100T, perfect to have with you all the time and such a beautiful design.
What software do you use to process your images?
I use Photoshop/Lightroom CC and Nik Collection (most of the time Color Efex Pro4).
Can you tell us something more about your work flow?
Import the RAW files in LR, create a collection and do some basic adjustments; contrast-clarity and if needed correcting the levels and verticals (fine tuning for this is done in PS).
I keep everything that I shoot that day, even if it seems unusable at the moment, maybe later on in a more creative mood I can make something special out of it.
Most of the other work is done in PS, adding or changing color, sometimes replacing the sky, retouching or removing unwanted objects. More special effects are done with Nik and for me this is the most fun part of the process; changing and rearranging until something comes out that pleases me.
When satisfied with the result, I go back to LR for some extra fine-tuning; highlights, shadows, saturation etc.
What is your most important advice to a beginner in abstract and architecture and how do you get started?
You don’t have to travel far; just look around in your neighborhood, try to find lines, shapes, shadows and colors. Sometimes there are very interesting hidden details; try to separate them and also try to imagine the final result after processing…think ahead.
Who are your favorite photographers and more importantly, how has your appreciation of their work affected how you approach your own photography?
Two of my favorites are David Bailey and Jeanloup Sieff; I discovered them in my “fashion” period.
Have they something to do with architecture or abstract?? Yes: breaking the rules!
Are there any specific directions that you would like to take your photography in the future or any specific goals that you wish to achieve?
At this moment, it feels fine as it is…. Maybe I should promote my work a bit more…I don’t know. Shall I continue with architecture or will it become more the abstract way: time will tell. Maybe my next period will have some more human elements.
Describe your favorite photograph taken by you and why it is special to you?