Now it's time for an interview that is long overdue. As head of the editor team, Yvette Depaepe has played an enormeous part in making this magazine what it is. Besides her great contributions to the community, Yvette is also a wonderful photographer in her own right. Thanks to Paulo Abrantes for conducting the interview.
First things first. If I was checking in at 1X at this precise moment and the first thing I did was to read this interview, briefly, what would I need to know about Yvette Depaepe.
I'm a child of the Belgian coast and the Flemish Polders. It is reflected in much of my photography, whether it is about the sea, the long straight polder canals or the weather beaten trees bent by the Southwesterly winds. The landscape in which I was born and raised, and where I still live today, is grand. It lets the eye travel to a far horizon which in turn invites to look further and seek new ones at home and abroad. In search of new horizons I have traveled to Australia, Nepal, Canada and the United States.
Traveling not only means new horizons. It also means experiencing deeper emotions. I capture these emotions in my images, which give them much more meaning than just being a recording of a landscape, a tree, a waterfall, the sea. My photography is purely emotional. I want to give my photos a soul, I want to capture the emotions I felt when I took the photo and show them in the processed image. Every photo is a reflection of my soul.
Now we know about Yvette the photographer but what about Yvette, head of the 1x editorial team? Are these two persons “connected” in some way or do you try to keep them apart to do these separate taskes?
First of all, dear Paulo … Many thanks for inviting me for this interview. It came so unexpected. I really feel honoured. To answer this first question: NO !!! It's impossible for me to keep these tasks separated. Let me explain why. I joined 1x in January 2013. Before that, from 2005 untill 2009 I put my marks on another photography site ”Photoblog” by commenting a lot. It's my all time favorite activity because it always was enriching and inspiring to me and also because I know very well how important feedback is, especially for beginners. That's where I learnt to “read” images. After a while, I became a curator on that site. Together with 5 other curators spread all over the world we had to pick out 5 “images of the day”. At the time, we were not called curators but “blog gods” because nobody knew who was curating the images.
Unfortunately, in June 2009 the site was sold to a new owner who deleted all the works – even from professional photographers to start a completely new concept. Members were angry and lost !!! Than I went to Flickr and created a group for ex-Photoblog members to keep in touch. I never felt at home on Flickr especially since the “explore” images are choosen via a algorithm with no human intervention.
Then, my Canadian photo friend discovered 1x and thought that this was a site fitting perfectly well for me. I opened a Pro account and started to do what I used to do on the old Photoblog: uploading images and commenting to get inspired by the many talented photographers I was amazed to discover. Yes, this was my new home … I went to a few meet-ups and the circle of new friends increased very fast. In Spring of 2014, I organized a 1x meet-up together with Piet Flour in Bruges. It became a huge success. About 36 members from 15 different countries arrived in my home city. We spent two fantastic days together. Ralf Stelander, the founder of 1x was there too.
Because of my “popularity” due to my comments, he asked me to function a little bit as a 1x ambassador and asked me to start doing interviews with our members and with well known photographers. It was very exciting and I loved to do that. Later on, the idea was born to create a Magazine together with a team of editors. Every three months there was an issue in magazine format.
Since November 2015, the concept has been changed and became an online Magazine with daily publications. I love it, and with the help of a fine team of editors it is becoming better and better. Uploading my own images and commentary is closely connected to my “job” as Head Editor. For me it is one single package.
Can you tell us how you became interested in photography?
In fact, I'm a “late bloomer” in spite of my long lasting interest in this art. But the day of my 48th birthday, my oldest daughter gave me a present that would change my life. She offered me a course in photography. I engaged myself 100% and was quickly trapped in a whirligig!!! At this time the analogue era was in full bloom and the digital era was still a dream.
In less than 3 years, my amateuristic love for photography became an passion. I began to develop my films at home and made my contact sheets by turning the bathroom light on and off. Crude but effective. At school, we had about 8 small darkrooms with Durst enlargers. We used to develop 5 pictures out of one filmroll with a specific theme each week. I felt so limited to only having the opportunity once a week to develop my images, that I bought my own enlarger, a fantastic Meopta.
I established my first darkroom in the bathroom, which was a huge job installing everything, sometimes for only one picture. My enlarger was on the edge of the bath tub and I projected the images onto the floor. After developing I rinced the prints in the bath and dried them on the tiles around the bath. Eventually the attic became my real darkroom. Every Friday evening I spend hours in it. Sometimes going to bed when the sun was about to rise. I was in my own magical world, just me and my photos.
I had some exhibitions and particpated to many photo contests. I won a few awards and am still proud of especially these two:
Photography is a big word with many meanings. What is “photography” for you? Are you “open” to all kind of meannings or are you more restricted in the meaning of the word?
Photography for me is the ultimate way of expressing my deepest feelings. I'm surely open to many kinds of meanings. In the beginning, I was often jealous when looking at the work of others. I was inspired and did experiment. I tried to “imitate” some styles but that didn't work for me. Finding your own style is essential, it doesn't matter what the subject is. I shoot with my belly. My analogue knowledge helped me a lot when I switched to digital. Nowadays, digital photography offers so many more opportunities to be creative. I am openminded to all kinds of photography as long as the image I'm looking at moves me.
As a viewer of other´s work, what do you expect to see in someone´s image? What are the qualities and flaws you seek in other´s pictures?
That is a difficult question !!! I don't have any real “criteria” when “reading” an image. What matters is the soul, the emotions, the story. Not just technical perfection...
You shoot a wide specter of motifs, as we can see in your 1X gallery. What is your drive or motivation to chose your photography subjects?
My state of mind and inner life are my muses. Apart from decisive moments, for example snapshots which I handle fast using my intuition, I love to let myself be totally imbued by a scenery or landscape. I can lose myself in what I see for minutes before starting to shoot and try everything possible while post-processing to transmit to the viewer all what I felt during that moment.
We all know your outstanding work as head editor and as a photographer, here on 1X. Outside the “web” do you have other photography projects?
Not really. I feel so good being head editor, commenting and still be inspired by 1x that I don't plan any huge projects. The 1x Magazine is my best project ever.
Of course, I will keep on shooting and never will refuse interesting projects or exhibitions if I'm asked to participate. I'm 68 young (but still young at heart). Too late to try to commercialize my photography or to make a living out of it. But I cannot imagine my life without photography ;-)
And for the future editorial work, here on 1X, do you want to share some future “secret” projects with us? That is, what can we expect from the 1X magazine content for the immediate future
Well, I consider the 1x Magazine as “my baby” and want to thank Ralf from the bottom of my heart for that magical suggestion he made during the 1x meet-up in Bruges.
I would never have believed that I would have been able to do what I'm doing today as head editor. Secret projects concerning the magazine … no!!! Producing more interesting articles of high quality by having a good collaboration with all the great editors in my team (who have all become pretty close friends) and of course, constantly increasing the amount of readers. These are my main targets.
Can you tell us about your favorite photographs taken by you and why are they your favorites?
I don't really have favorite photographs. I simply like some better than others. It always was a real pain to have to choose some for an exhibition. But to mention one I'm still very proud of, I would go for “Vanished to the infinite”.
The gear I use is very limited. My most essential tool will always be my eyes ;-)
- Canon 5D MarkII
- Canon 24-105mm lens
- B+W ND filters 6 stops & 10 stops
- Tripod Vanguard
- Remote switch
I take all my images in raw format. First editing happens in Bridge before processing in Photoshop. I also use the NIK Pro software.
Being a person coming from the analogue times, being someone that actually developed their own film, how do you see this “image (re)evolution” of the XXI century? Do you also take pictures with your smartphone and do share them imediately on Facebook and Instagram?
I'm very pleased with the “image (re)evolution of the XXI century, since it opens a world of creativity to everyone. Nowadays, everybody has the possibility to take pictures and it becomes more and more difficult to distinguish yourself from everyone else. I never take pictures with my smartphone to share them on Facebook and Instagram. But I have a huge admiration for some photographers who succeed to take wonderful shots with their smartphone. There is a simple reason for that: I will never get used to look on a screen to compose a picture! I really cannot miss the View Finder ;-) May be it is a leftover from the analogue era. On the other side, I'm very glad that 1x is on Instagram and displays curated images.
You are an accomplished and experienced photographer. What advice can you share with the less experienced ones in the search for some help during the always hard time as beginner?
Everybody goes through the hard beginning times. The main advice I can give is: Never go out without your camera and shoot as many pictures as possible. The digital format offers so many possibilities without the restrictions of the analogue era. Get inspired by others and experiment untill you find your own style. Always try to be creative and original by trying to think out of the box. My biggest advice is: Shoot with your heart and soul!
The last question is maybe the most simple and maybe the hardest one. Now, at this point of our talk we already know Yvette, the photographer and Yvette, the head editor, not the woman behind those two. Can you briefly tell us who is Yvette Depaepe?
Of course, you may, Paulo! I will not tell my life story, which would be enough to write a few thick books. Briefly! I spent my youth in boarding schools because of my parents occupations. I married when I was 18 years and one day old, straight from the boarding school to the church. I had four children at a young age. My marriage unfortunately fell apart. I was only 43 years old when my first grandchild was born. Now, my beloved gang counts 15 and my first great-grand child is on the way. They keep me young and dynamic. I feel blessed with my big family. I always have to laugh when I have to mark “single”. Do I feel lonely, my god, no … I'm nearly never alone, and sometimes I even long to be alone. I'm more surrounded than many people are. I think I have a rich and fulfilled life.
I'm traveling a lot. In 1996 I went on my own backpacking in Australia..
In 2008 I went to Nepal as a volonteer to teach unprivileged children and support their families.
Currently I spend three months a year in Canada and the United States, traveling by camper together with my Canadian friend.
On each journey, I try to meet the many photographer friends I have all over the world.
Since I'm on 1x, the number of photographer friends never stops increasing. I aspire to grow old enough to meet them all! ;-)