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Mania De Praeter : Photographer of the week

by Yvette Depaepe
Published the 28th of March 2022 


I'm proud to introduce you to Mania De Praeter today. She is a great street  photographer and quotes: 'For me photography is like painting, except a photographer not necessarily needs the painting skills. The goal however remains the same. The creation of an image that is asking to be seen. An image before which you stop in an exhibition or museum. The creation of something fabulous, mesmerizing, disturbing, beautiful or ugly, perfect or imperfect, but something that sticks.' Mania is charming and humble.  She has a warm personality and I truly hope to meet her one day as she is living in my country.
But let's discover Mania through this great interview...  Enjoy!


'Voyage, voyage'

Dear Mania, to begin, please introduce yourself and tell us about you, your hobbies or other jobs/projects you are involved in!

My name is Mania De Praeter, I’m 53 years old and I work as a neurosurgeon in the University Hospital of Antwerp. Besides paediatric neurosurgery, photography recently has become my other passion. Every 4-6 weeks I travel to NY, where my partner resides, and where I love to explore the city, and visit its musea and art shows. Together with my partner and our children we also try to explore the world as much as possible during holidays.
With the lock-down and hence the travel ban I wasn’t able to go to NY for 20 months and started strolling the streets of my home-town during my spare time with the new camera I got for my birthday.
I started realizing how much beauty there was to find outside, even just around every corner. I have always been an avid photographer, especially during our family travels. But I always felt limited by the technical qualities of my camera. My new camera opened a whole new world for me. I was so much more pleased by the result of a spontaneous candid shot. But photography is of course more than a fast snap shot. Finding a beautiful scene and then waiting for the right composition and the right light has often made we wait for hours patiently on the same spot. 


Your work is mainly black and white and strong, combined with exceptional light and excellent compositions.  What does street photography mean to you?

To me, street photography means capturing beautiful or intriguing scenes and light while wandering through cities or villages.
A street photograph should be mesmerizing, because of its beauty, the subject, its composition and/or light, or even because of its ugliness or drama. It should make you want to look at it over and over again.  It should stay in your head long after it’s gone. It should make you wish you took that picture...


'A rainy day'


'Snow in April'



'The skater'


Can you describe your overall photographic vision, Mania?

For me photography is like painting, except a photographer not necessarily needs the painting skills. The goal however remains the same. The creation of an image that is asking to be seen. An image before which you stop in an exhibition or museum. The creation of something fabulous, mesmerizing, disturbing, beautiful or ugly, perfect or imperfect, but something that sticks.




What is more important to you: the technical perfection or the story behind street photographs? Do you think one plays a stronger role than the other?

The technical perfection and the story behind street photographs are both equally important to me. A technical perfect scene without a story can be very boring, but a good story in a picture that is not sharp or crooked sometimes makes me very uncomfortable.  I have the same pursuit of perfection in photography as I do in my job as a neurosurgeon.  But I would better curb that urge for perfection more often because it sometimes limits  the spontaneity of a capture.


'Central Park shadows'



'NY shadows'


What is it that you want to express and transfer to the viewers?

I mostly want to express a certain mood or feeling to the viewers, and often one of solitude or melancholy.


'Misty morning'





What do you think are some clichés in street photography you steer away from yourself?

Sometimes people are looking for the same background or building or scenes they saw in other pictures and try to make the exact same pictures. Using other pictures as an inspiration can help you find your own style in photography but copying a picture is both lazy and undervaluing the original work. I am constantly looking for new scenes and I find it challenging to go to ordinary places and still try to make a beautiful photo.
It is easier to make a beautiful picture in a wonderful surrounding than in a plane or with an ugly background, but I love that challenge.


 'November fog'


What were the difficulties you encountered first starting street photography and what advice would you give to beginners?

The difficulty is giving yourself an attitude while shooting on the street. I you want to catch people in their normal behaviour, you have to make yourself as invisible as possible. I take pictures with my camera in silent mode without any lights on.


'Three gentlemen'


Who are some of your favourite photographers, and how did they influence you?

I’m a big fan of Saul Leiter’s colour photography. I unfortunately don’t have his eye for his beautiful scenes and colours. I am probably more influenced by some painters. Wayne Thiebaud is known by many for his food paintings, but I am more attracted by his paintings and drawings of figures. They always reflect a certain  nostalgia and are even disturbing at times. You see the same thing in Edward Hopper’s paintings and drawings. I’m also fascinated by the use of human forms in Antony Gormley’s work and their interaction with the environment.
Some of my favourite photographers are Diane Arbus, Viviane Mayer and of course Henry Cartier Bresson.


'The man and the tree'






'Let it snow'





When you are out shooting—how much of it is instinctual versus planned?

Whenever I have a spare moment I’m out shooting. It is almost never planned. I usually just start walking through the city and if I find a beautiful scene, I can stay there for hours and return home without seeing anything else.  I try not to make too many plans and I usually find places accidentally.


'The old man and the sea'


What gear do you use (camera, lenses, bag)?

I got a Sony Alpha 7iii for my 52nd birthday last year. If first tried a 50mm f1,8  Sony lens but found the angle to narrow. A few months later I got a 24-70mm f2,8 Sigma lens and that is the only one I use nowadays. I also got a 70-200 f2.8 Sony lens, but because of its heaviness, I usually don’t take this with me.
The advantage of being a woman is that I always carry my handbag, in which I easily put my camera. I bought a special camera wrap to protect it. (Tenba Wrap) I rarely go out without my camera but I have no fancy gear or bags or accessories.


What software do you use to process your images?

I tried lightroom for editing but cannot seem to learn how to use it properly. That’s why I always use ‘Snapseed’ and ‘Retouch’  (free apps) and use my apple pencil to edit my photos on my i-Pad.


Can you tell us something more about your work flow?

When I’m in NY I spend the days on the street while my partner is working. I do the editing in the mornings or evenings. In Belgium, I don’t have a lot of time nowadays to go shooting besides a few hours after work, or even before work in the early morning. In the weekends, when I’m on call, I can’t make other plans so when I am not in the hospital I try to find new places in the neighbourhood to take pictures.


Are there any specific directions that you would like to take your photography and can you share with us your future plans or projects you would like to be involved in?
I have the impression that I’m still finding my way in photography. I try to take more colour pictures but always find myself going back to BW. I always want to do better and want to create something original and worth seeing but still haven’t figured out how to get more exposure.  I’m so looking forward to being part of the 'womenstreetphotographers' exhibition in NY in April and I sure do hope that this will not be the end.


'On their way'


What is one question nobody has ever asked you—that you wish they asked you?

Would you want to be a professional photographer in a next life?
The thought crossed my mind of course. But I absolutely love to be a neurosurgeon and not being a photographer gives me the opportunity to take pictures just for fun without limits on what I photograph. On the other hand, I would love to be able to put more time in photography, because time is what I’m most short of.


Now, since we have almost reached the end of this interview, I would kindly ask you to tell us how you discovered 1x and what do you think about it as a home base for your work?

I discovered 1X through a colleague amateur photographer (Christophe Saelens) who advised me to check out the website.  I loved it from the beginning. It’s very nice to be able to have your work curated and not getting simple likes and just positive comments like on other social media. And I also love the fact that every picture I’ve seen on the 1X website is worth seeing. This is not always the case on social media.


'It's a big world'



'The commute'




Marvelous portfolio with a strong vision and a clear personal signature, think you are a very talented streetphotographer!!
Waw Benny. What a compliment.. especially coming from you. Thank you so much!!!
Great images and interview that inspires us to do better like your simplicity and mood style interesting you want to take more colour photos I wish you success in that venture.
Thank you so kindly Chris!
Thanks, dear Mania for introducing your highly creative and very artistic photos. Your ability to compose a photographic story is highly impressive. My compliments on the interview and the wonderful gallery. And thanks Yvette for another great interview.
;-) thank you, dear Arnon!
Thank you very much Arnon. Your kind comments are very much appreciated !
Congratulations on the interview and images. A diverse and very interesting body of work. I really like your attention to detail.
Warmest thank you Fransisco!
Congratulations Mania, your portfolio is amazing. It means a lot to me, because I particularly like this style of photography where you are excellent. Thanks to you and Yvette for this excellent interview.
Thank you, dear Miguel!
Thank you Miguel for the very kind comments
Grazie Uvette per la scelta dell'artista e la scelta delle foto stupende. Complimenti Mania per il tuo super lavoro e passione. Un bel racconto della tua passione, grazie
Grazie mille Francesca!
Thank you, Francesca ;-)
Welcome to the club Mania, your street photography is an enrichment to this site. Congratulations !
Oh thank you so much. Truly happy to be a part of this club Luc!
Great series, Mania … congratulations! Big thanks to Yvette!
Many thanks Jørgen! Very kind!
Thank you, dear Jorgen! Happy about the boost I can provide to Mania who is pretty new on 1x and really is a top straat photographer ;-)
Really nice work, dear Mania. Congrats!!!
Thank you very much Sven!
My compliments for sharing either the images or this fantastic interview. Thank you very much
Thank you Federico for the kind comment
Very good photographer and wonderful images!
Thank you very much Vasil
Beautiful photograph’s and lovey article
Thank you so kindly
Bellissimo articolo, e le fotografie di strada sono veramente eccezionale. Complimenti.
Grazie mille!
the road offers countless opportunities for photography. The road is the school of life. Beautiful gallery with excellent b & w. Congrats Mania and thanks to Yvette for the excellent magazine. Franco
Thank you so kindly Franco!
Thank you for your neverlasting appreciation, Franco!
Great street photos.. Congratulations dear Mania, and thank you Yvette.
Thank you, Emel !!!
Strong BW street photography Mania. Love your silhouette compositions.
So happy you do. Thanks so much Jef!
Wonderful series, congrats Mania and thanks Yvette for the interview !
Thanks so much Marc!!
Thank you, Marc !
Beautiful work Mania, I really enjoy viewing your images. Warmest regards, Patrick
Warmest thank you Patrick!
Congratulations to this very well deserved feature. I like the minimalistic and calm approach in your street photography. Your photos are very well composed and also very moody. I am happy to follow you here at
Thank you and I wil happily follow you back..;)
Dear Mania, I was very impressed by your street photography pictures. They are very original and I loved the angles and the points of view. I also noticed that the orthodox jews are present in many of your photographs, this is a familiar sight for me, as I am living in Israel for many years now. Thank you for sharing your art and thank you dear Yvette for letting me discover it in your magazine!
Thank you, dear Gaby !
Thank you very much Gabrielle!
Congratulations, Mania. I'm a big fan of your street photography. It was a real pleasure to interview you and to introduce you to the readers of the 1x magazine. Warm greetings, Yvette
Super bedankt Yvette!!!! Thank you so much. I really enjoyed it a lot!!!
Very impressive photo selection. Strong, original, intriguing scenes that are spontaneous yet carefully composed. I must say this is among the best street photography I've come across. Congratulations!
Thank you so kindly. I feel very honoured!!