Monday, April 26, 2010

Photographers: reasons to be thankful

Emiel is a horse breeder. He also helps out in his community doing things like driving the school bus. Here he listens to an amusing anecdote his wife is relating during a chat with friends and family at his kitchen table.

Emiel amused.

Emiel day dreaming.
As a photographer I consider it a great priviledge to be allowed into people's lives. When someone chooses to share a few moments of their life with you in front of your camera it is a gift.

I have the impression that some photographers think that owning a camera gives them the right to take photographs of anyone they come across. I do not share that view. To me every smile or glance that says, "Yes, it's fine; you can take a picture of me," is a precious gift, to be treated with respect and care,and to honoured with the best photograph that I can make.

It's sad that when someone says "no" to a photographer they go away in a huff, feeling angry and rejected, as if their camera has given them some sort of blank cheque on people's time and presence in front of their lens. The world and the people in it owe us nothing as photographers.

My feelings extend to professional models too. Sure they're earning money and paid to pose for the photographer but what they choose to give us is up to them. If you treat a model with respect and enjoy the art they create in front of your lens you will achieve far more than you would shouting orders like a mini-dictator. Now some of you may be thinking of a really difficult model and session...but if a model really does not want to work with you then move on and find one that does want to create art together. Your best work is unlikely to happen in an environment filled with anger and ill will.

But I digress. Certainly for photojournalists and documentary photographers being able to share people's lives, often during difficult times is a privilege.

Till soon,


Sunday, April 18, 2010

Photographing with available light

Belgian sculptor Willem Vermandere talks about his work at the opening of his exhibition in Poperinge, 31 March 2010.

I wanted to capture the atmosphere and not to disturb the event with flashes going off all the time; so I used available light (gallery spots).

It was a challenge as Willem can be quite animated and he was moving in and out of the light all the time. Trying to get everything together, expression, the moment and the light wasn't easy.

Multi-talented artist, Willem also gave a speech and played his bass clarinet.

Till soon,


Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Photojournalism: to take a picture or save a life

10 minutes after it happened.
What do you do first as a photo journalist if you see someone in grave danger? Take a picture or help. I know the answer 100 per cent, from personal experience, because that's the situation I was in on Sunday 4 April 2010.

As a photojournalist I've been in many tight spots and when it's your own life on the line you just take risk as a given. In certain situations you expect danger. But when you're out for a walk on a beach in Belgium, taking pictures on a clear afternoon, you don't expect to be plunged into a life and death situation.

Magda, my wife, and I were photographing near the harbour in Ostend. As photographers we often venture into areas not open to the general public to get more interesting images. So we went under the rope cordon and crossed into a construction area.

20 minutes later I heard a shout for help and to my horror 10 meters away I saw Magda sinking into quicksand. I rushed over and managed to stay just on the edge of the patch. When I saw my boot starting sink as well I knew I had to act really quickly. Magda was already waist deep. A few more minutes and it would have been over. A grim death. I grabbed her wrist and yanked her out. I knew speed was of the essence as the further she sank the harder it would be to get her out.

We both remained calm. Magda did shout, "My camera, my camera!" Afterwards we thought that was really funny.

"You should have taken a picture of me in the quicksand. Some photojournalist you are! Although at the time I would probably not have been amused," said Magda later.

So there you have it. I'm a trained and experienced photojournalist but when it came to seeing Magda in grave danger, I didn't get the shot.

If you would like to read Magda's version of the story then check out her blog. She also has photos of where it happened.

I know many of you go out photographing by yourselves. Do please be careful.

Please feel free to follow me through the Google widget on the right.

Till soon,

Sunday, April 11, 2010


To me photography is all about speaking with light to tell the world about the reality I discover in a person, place or subject. I seek truth and authenticity because these are the only things really worth pursuing. Without integrity there can be no love and without love there is no passion.

My images are gifts to you. Perhaps they will make you smile, feel warm inside, nod as you recognise something real. Some of my images may not touch you. But my hope is that I will make an image that does move you, that does touch you and shows you something more than you expected from a mere photograph.

Till soon,