Luc Stalmans humbly considers himself as an amateur photographer. His work proofs on many levels that his talent is infinite. He still tries to improve his technical skills but in every single portrait he succeeds to capture soul and essence and that is something that you have or do not have. Look by yourself and enjoy reading more about this fine artist photographer.
Briefly tell us about yourself, your hobbies and other jobs, Luc.
I'm 55 years “young”, born & raised and still living in Herselt, a small village in the province 'Kempen” near to Antwerp/Belgium. The few moments left after my work is mainly spend on photography in all its aspects. I consider myself as an amateur photographer full of passion for this Art. On a professional level, I'm Service Manager for the Benelux in a Dutch company.
Did your history and life experiences affected your photography?
My interest in Photography was born in my student days. More than 35 years ago, I started a photography course which I had to stop prematurely due to family circumstances.
Much later – in 2010 – I bought my first small camera. I used it to take sporadic family shots and vacation snapshots and occasionally I was experimenting with it.
But the big decisive moment came in 2015 when I had the chance to visit the permanent Helmuth Newton's exhibition in Berlin. I was fascinated by his work and his images affected me a lot. Early 2016, I decided to join the Photo Club 'Arteloo' and since then my skills improved spectacularly partly due to the Photo Club's founder, Leon Heylen with who I share my passion for portrait photography.
Why are you so drawn by Portrait Photography and Fine Art Nudes?
I am driven by the – sometimes figuratively ugliness but substantive – beauty of people and objects. The interaction leads to inner beauty and above all, to the expressiveness that a portrait can emanate. This interaction causes always self-reflection and amazement for the spectator / co-mate. If I manage to show the deepest soul from time to time, than the magic is not far away.
What is more important to you, the mood,/story behind your images or the technical perfection?
Both !!! However, Perfection does not exist. It is almost impossible to transmit the exact right feeling or story without a minimum of technical baggage or skills. Only when you have mastered the skills more or less you can break them (consciously or not) is my opinion. So I also enjoy it to take a (small) step further to improve my technical skills every day.
What generally is your relationship to your subject matter beyond being an observer? Do you prepare carefully the locations where you are intending to photograph?
In my point of view, there has to be more than just a flat record of a particular situation. I like the interaction between photographer and the recorded (people or situations)
In portrait photography and fine art nude this is even a necessity. I often get people out of their comfort zone during a shoot and try to ensure that the 'click' is created to go beyond a portrait. I am always looking for the soul or a predetermined atmosphere that I try to convey to the model. However, this is a road often paved with more traps than standing- ups.
What gear do you use (camera, lenses, bag)?
I'm using a Canon 5D MK IV together with a pair of Sigma prime lenses (35-50-85-135 mm). My most used lens, however, is the 85 mm.
I also own a trolley bag for studio trips.
Recently I bought a small, but handy Canon Powershot G1X mk III and use it for occasionally Photography. Easy to take and never far away from me.
What software do you use to process your images?
Mainly Lightroom CC Classic for import and small editing and fine-tuning and further editing images with Photoshop CC which contains a few filters from NIK and Topaz.
What is your most important advice to a beginner in Portrait Photography or Fine Art Nude and how do you get started?
I am a beginner myself, but in my opinion preparation for studio work is more than half the work for a successful photo shoot and ditto images. The elaboration of a (virtual) mood board gives both the photographer and the model a certain peace and confidence. Once the main road has been drawn, there is no objection to walk differently on side roads during a shoot if it feels OK for both. The lighting arrangements and backgrounds also have to be known on the forehand – especially for a beginner - in order to avoid big disappointments afterwards. A part of a studio photo session with a grey backdrop is never a bad plan so that you can possibly change things in the overall picture afterwards.
Who are your favourite photographers and more importantly, how has your appreciation of their work affected how you approach your own photography?
As said before, Helmuth Newton is the man who fully wakened my passion for Photography. When thinking about the many 1X top photographers, it feels like a dishonour to all those whom I do not mention here. However, I would like to mention one person: Marc Apers. Looking at his Portrait photos in natural light, he certainly is the one who showed me how important it is to catch the soul in a portrait.
Is there any specific photo taken by another photographer that has inspired you a lot and why?
No words to express my admiration for this image called “Wordless” by Marc Apers
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?
A few projects are bubbling around in my head, but they do not have a concrete shape yet. I would like to pick up architecture photography in the future, but then in combination with people. Combining human forms and lines with the tightness (or just not) and the design in all customs of architecture in all aspects and interwoven in 1 image.
Describe your favourite photograph taken by you and why it is special to you?
Madame Bouvary was one of the first photos with a relatively good response. The BW version is very close to my heart. It didn't make it to the front-page but later on the colour version did!
Is there anything else you wish to add and what do you think about 1X as a home base for your work?
I consider 1X as the best photography site currently available worldwide and I am proud that the best of my work has been published on the front-page.
I would like to the advantage of this opportunity to thank the curators and all the 1x crew members for their huge contribution to keep 1X on the very top.