by Editor Yvette Leur
Marije Dijkema is a colourful Photographer and master in telling many stories in just one image. She captures fairy tales and dreams and make them come to life in photographs.
Please introduce yourself to the readers, Marije?
I am a photographer who likes to take the viewer with me in a world of fantasy. A moment of escaping from reality. Some people are gaming, I try to do the same with my photographic work. Creating a completely different fairy tale-like world of fantasy. I'd like to bring my photographs to life. I love creating an experience.
How would you describe your photography style?
Full of fantasy, fairy tales and dreams. I'd like to create an emotion like a daydream. Soft, romantic, storytelling imagery.
The message behind my work is: "It doesn't matter what kind of world you want to life in. Do what you want, everything is possible." I try to lead my models trough a perception of a different kind of dream world. Maybe it's not the kind of photography I can live from just yet, but it's my kind and it's something I strongly believe in. Never lose your sense of wonder. Be who you want to be, always.
People often ask me questions like, Why do you dye your hair purple (or blue, or red)? For me, it's all about authenticity. A part of who I am. I don't want to portray myself differently than how I feel.
When did you start photography?
I have a background in graphic design. I just always knew I wanted to create. Photography started out as a maybe. I didn't feel like shooting corporate business portraits all day long. I wanted to do something with composition and colour. I had some photography lessons in school, but more technical detailed. I guess I really got triggered after meeting some girls in my class. Those girls had a unique style of presentation in clothing and make-up. They brought me to a Dutch festival called Elfia where people can dress up like fairies and dragons and live their fantasy trough the power of creating their own style or character. The energy on this feast was incredibly magical. Everybody was very complimentary to each other and people were radiant. It is a real feel good feast. This is something that simply isn't possible in real life. The feeling this experience gave me, is what I now try to put back into my photographs.
How did you develop your own style?
Mostly own preferences. Being myself and creating what I like. I like to use female models, because females all have something graceful over them, I like to work with colour, composition and poses.
I did follow a couple of workshops from people who inspire me dearly. Like Russian Photographer Margarita Kareva. I had the style down, but really wanted to meet the person behind the images. And to learn, how does her work process go.
Are you photographing/editing full time?
I still do some graphic design. My main goal is photography. Art, fantasy shoots. I also give photoshop workshops and classes. I'd like to start with Fantasy related photography workshops as well soon.
How did you start your business?
When I was still in college, the country was going through a financial crisis. So I started my business in my last year to get a head start on my students. I know it would be tough, but it was what I wanted to do most. I started doing small assignments and worked at a commercial agency. Never letting my dream of being a photographer out of sight. And you know, it wasn't until the summer of 2016 that I really started calling myself a photographer. During a network event people told me to pitch what was most dear to me. There was only one answer: Photography.
What do you think about the business end of the work?
Starting out, building your network can be a scary thing. I am introvert and shy. It seems like, the ones who are loudest get the most attention and quality and skills get overlooked.
I learned networking is important. It's the base of your business. You have to get assignments to get paid. It's not only about the quality of your work, but also a big part about who you are as a person. Likeability and trust are very important. Brand awareness is key. Cold acquisition does not work, at least not for me in my opinion. 'Who are you, were do we know you from and who do you know,' are more important. Networking is the base of building your own brand and getting jobs signed.
The fun part is getting to know people and helping each other out in landing deals and assignments. Sharing knowledge is very important too.
How did you train your skills? School? Workshops?
Like I said, workshops from people I admire. And practice practice practice over and over.
Where did your passion for creating images come from?
I don't really know. I was always drawing, making art. Creating worlds of my own, even as a child. I was a shy girl often living in a created for her only fantasy dream world.
Where do you get your ideas/inspiration from?
Fantasy films like Harry Potter, LOTR, Disney films, Series. Little things like seeing sparkling sunlight on moss. Images from photographers or artists. Emotions, colours.
What makes you the happiest when it comes to photography and or editing?
Photoshop! I am bad at planning. At this moment I am working on a series called The Netherlands. It's partly born out of desperation. I'm selling my art on an art market in Amsterdam. Sales are low but I do get a chance to hear people talk about my work and what they would like to see or own. So based on that, I am creating something different and new.
What's important to you. The story? The emotion? The technical skills?
Emotion, but the technical skills and the story are almost as important. Some photographers lack one component and it shows in the final image. "That's why studio portraits aren't my most favourite thing to do." I feel a story is missing.
Are there parts you don't like as much?
Planning and organizing. I am more attached to the development of the idea. Teamwork can be a bit challenging because I am very sensitive to the energy of others. It has to be a group effort and in the end result, it shows if we were a great team, but it also shows if we were not.
Can you describe your photography and editing process to the readers?
The idea comes first. Then I try to make a mood board. Search for a team with fitting members comes next. Model, Make-up artist, Stylist. Sometimes I do the make-up myself. After the team is complete location and dates are set. After the shoot I sort out the best pictures and the photoshop editing progress begins. Mostly I finish at least one end result within a day. The rest of the images follow in a few weeks.
What are your go to solutions for problem solving?
Trial and error. I don't take long with photoshop. Half an hour to hour and a half at most. I keep searching until I find my solution. YouTube can help. Mostly I just try it and figure it out!
Are there any photographers who were a great influence or even mentor to you?
As mentioned Margarita Kareva, but also Kirsty Mitchell and William Rutten. Wiliam is a Dutch famous celebrity photographer from The Netherlands. I admire the way he treats people. He is always nice to everybody and willing to help others if possible. The way you portray yourself to others is very important to me.
Please show us 3 of you photographs that you are really proud of and please describe why?
“Alice in Wonderland” was my first photo shoot where I made a composition during the edit. I added the floating books afterwards and I was so proud of the result when I was done! It is still one of my favourite images. It was also the first time I worked with model Shanou Elise, who is now one of my most favourite models and also became a dear friend to me.
I took “The Green Goddess” during the workshop of Margarita Kareva, it is one of the most enchanting images I’ve ever made. Everything fits in this picture: The model, the styling, the light, the vibe. I have this image hanging in my office as a 80x60cm print in a frame, so I can look at it every day.
“Element of Fire” is part of a series that represents the four elements. Obviously this is element fire. I struggled a bit with the editing, because we shot in a forest that was too green for the image I had in my head, so I changed the background completely. It turned out better than I expected and its absolutely one of my favourite images.
Can you tell me about your gear and editing software?
Nikon D800 and a 50 mm 1.4 lens. Photoshop CC. Octabox Elichrome D-lite 2 And sometimes a reflector screen. It's not about the gear, it's about the mood and the end result.
How do you work best? Alone, team?
Though question. I like working with a team, but the connection with the team can be noticed in the end result. So the vibe has to be good.
Can you tell us some of your highlights? (Competition, Publications, exhibitions)
Competing in the photo portrait competition of William Rutten and the chance to work in his studio and talk to him about photography. Margarita's workshop. Shooting with Ophelia Overdose, a well known German Fantasy Model.
What do you think about the diversity of Photography?
Incredible. I don't get any sense of concurrency. Everybody has a unique style and personality. It's a blessing to have so many wonderful photographers friends surrounding me. We need each other to share knowledge. There is no profession more versatile as photography.
Where can we find you?
Can you give us some information about bookings and assignments? (Workshops, exhibitions, shoots)
There will be an exhibition in Oosthuizen The Netherlands starting may till august 2018. You can sign in for a workshop Photoshop skills (basic and advanced) every month trough my website and facebook.
I will be starting Fantasy photography workshops soon.
What would you like to say to the readers? Tip/Quote?
'Never lose your sense of wonder.'
Follow your heart no matter what other people may say.
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