Jeroen van de Wiel - Photographer of the week

Jeroen van de Wiel's portfolio is truly inspirational and highly professional. He always finds and frames the most interesting images out of the urban landscape. See by yourself and discover the man behind his work. Thanks to Yvette Depaepe for conducting the interview.


Briefly tell us about yourself, your hobbies, other jobs and how have your history and life experiences affected your photography? 
I was born in 1970 in Tilburg, the Netherlands. Today I live with my girlfriend in Riel, a small and quiet village.

My first reflex camera already came at age 14, a Minolta X700. I used it for 25 years. I was educated to be a graphic designer. After that I studied to be a teacher in arts. During my studies I often used photography in assistance to my assignments. I was a trainee at a photo studio and as a weekend job in those days I photographed sports teams. I ended up as a teacher in crafts and graphic design. I'm still enjoying that very much, but through the years the desire to create again for myself began to grow. I started painting and drawing again and bought a digital reflex in 2007.

At that point I lived near Tilburg University. Walking around the buildings there with my brand new camera, I started to notice details, lines, light and the power of shadows. That became the first step towards my current style.

What first attracted you to photography?
It's a wonderful way to create images. I've always been into that. Photography was my first creative love. Even though I learned and practised many other creative disciplines I discovered that photography was the most important for me.

Describe your overall photographic vision.
Photography is still a way to capture our life and the time we live in. Therefore it is still essential. But I find it also a way to do something else. For taking vacation pictures or Facebook shots you don't have to be a good photographer, and that's fine. But for me, I search for the essence in things. Anything that does not fit in the picture stays out of the picture. Of course, composition is very important to me. But I also like simplicity. And the mood matters. Everything has to be right. I like big contrasts in my tones, or just the lack of it. The key is impact, but there is no formula for that...


Why are you so drawn by architecture and abstract photography?
Being educated as a graphic designer, I've always liked lines and shapes. Buildings provide those elements. They are steady and calm and good architects know how to deal with the sunlight.
What is more important to you, the mood, /story behind your images or the technical perfection?
I am quite accurate when it comes to the final result, but technical perfection is basically a tool. Technique is really overrated.
What generally is your relationship to your subject matter beyond being an observer?
I love (modern) architecture and that really helps ;-). Great architecture is interesting in the whole of the building, its surrounding, the human person in it, but also in the details. While photographing, one has to consider all those elements.
Do you prepare carefully the locations where you are intending to photograph?
Yes. I choose my locations very thoroughly, especially when I have to drive a long way to get somewhere. I like to take my time for a building or a museum. I love museums by the way. Not just for the art, but the light and interior are often very inviting to takes pictures. Staircases, the visitors... I shoot everything except the art; I leave that to the regular museum visitors.

Anyhow, I can spend several hours in shooting just one building or museum. The results are so much more satisfying if you're not in a hurry, or planning to shoot an entire city in one afternoon.

Google Maps and street view are also useful tools if you're planning to go somewhere.



What gear do you use (camera, lenses, bag)?
I use a Canon 5D Mark II, along with a Canon EF 24-105 f/4 IS, a Canon EF 50mm f/1.8, a Canon EF 70-300mm IS, a Tokina 16-28mm f/2.8, a Sigma 15mm f/2.8 fisheye and a Lensbaby.

But I also like to travel light. Depending on the location I bring along what I expect to use.

What software do you use to process your images?
I love Lightroom to make a first selection and do the primary editing, like contrast and perfection of the framing. Basically, for many shots one needs nothing more than this. But if you want more, Photoshop is essential. I also use the Nik filters, especially Silver Efex Pro, a brilliant tool!

Can you tell us something more about your workflow?
It's a challenge to shoot a building that has been photographed a million times in a way that has not been done before. Therefore you need to watch first, instead of 'just shoot'. Quite often I know ''this is the one", right at the moment I take the shot.

When I started shooting architecture I didn't process all that much. The lines had to be straight of course, but the colours were as I shot them. Today I hardly use any colours any more. Black and white has really taken over. That means I have to process and like I said, I like to use Silver Efex Pro for that. I have my own recipes for my black and whites. For the high key or low key processing for instance.



What is your most important advice to a beginner in architecture and abstract photography and how do you get started?
Just go out and play! When I decided to shoot architecture, I didn't go to the hotspots right away. I started out with the buildings in my direct environment to learn about architecture compositions and point of views. Just learn to watch first. See the lines and shapes and learn about the light. It's more fun to visit the famous buildings later, when you really know what you are doing.

What also helps is criticism from other photographers at photographic websites. That can be confronting at first, but it speeds up your learning process really hard.

And last but not least, watch and learn. Look at pictures you like and wonder how it is done.  And try to understand why a certain photo is so appealing to you.



Who are your favourite photographers and more importantly, how has your appreciation of their work affected how you approach your own photography?  
There are many photographers that I admire and that have inspired me. Photographers like Anton Corbijn and Stefan Vanfleteren control the power of black and white. But in my field, I also have to give credits to De Stijl artists like Piet Mondriaan. His vision is not only visible in all of today's design, but his minimal approach and view on the essence of composition and leaving out what has no function is very much how I look at the world around me through my camera.

And I've learned a lot from many architecture photographers active at sites like I'm really glad to have met a lot of them in person!

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?
I often asked myself the same question. When I look back at the last years it was a natural development for me. And it will eventually lead to new challenges.

Describe your favourite photograph taken by you and why it is special to you?

A tough question, but I like this one very much. This POV is not unique in this subject, but the use of the fish-eye lens gives a different effect, even though you can't see immediately that I used that lens, most of the times you can see that right away. That's what I like, a different touch. This picture was chosen Architecture picture of the year in the Dutch magazine Zoom by the way.

Is there anything else you wish to add and what do you think about 1X as a home base for your work?
1X definitely challenges me!




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