INTERVIEW | PHOTOGRAPHER ELISABETH DE VIRES

26.4.15



A little over a year ago Elisabeth de Vires contacted me to say that she followed my blog and became a full time photographer in our years after high school. We know each other from our teenage years in Haarlem, but both live in Amsterdam now. We were never really in the same group of friends – Elisabeth was much cooler as she was senior in high school, when I was still a junior – but always knew of each other’s existence.

We decided to work together on a 90s inspired editorial (1, 2, 3, 4), shot in our old high school in April of last year. From then on, we meet for coffee every once in a while to talk about work, art, but mostly our personal lives. I am very proud of what Elisabeth has built up the past couple of years and therefore would like to share some of her work with you. And I picked her brain on how to manage a career as a young photographer these days. Here we go!




I NEVER KNEW YOU WERE INTO PHOTOGRAPHY WHEN WE WERE YOUNGER. HOW DID IT BECOME YOUR JOB?
Well, I started studying art history after high school. I learned to look at and talk about art. Soon after I graduated though, I learned that the art world is not really the place for me. I did not want to judge the artworks of others; I realized I wanted to make art myself!  Photography was my medium of choice, as I liked its accessibility and high production speed. I bought a camera, started experimenting and never stopped!

DID YOU THINK OF PAINT OR PENCILS, BEFORE YOU MADE THE DECISION TO BECOME A PHOTOGRAPHER?
I did, but only for a little while. I like to draw, but prefer photography as it allows me to learn quickly, experiment and correct a mistake by making a new image relatively easy. I never took a course in photography; I just started experimenting like a maniac.

For my first project I photographed my friends, while dressing up to go out. And I actually still photograph people mostly. They fascinate me, as the quality of a picture really depends on the understanding between the photographer and the model. The relationship they have is translated to the image, which makes it personal every time.

A LOT OF GIRLS AND BOYS DREAM OF BECOMING A PHOTOGRAPHER THESE DAYS. HOW DID YOU MANAGE?
Funny you ask that question, because from my point of view my career just kicked off.

OKAY, BUT WHAT DO YOU THINK DISTINGUISHES A PROFESSIONAL PHOTOGRAPHER FROM AN AMATEUR?
There are a lot of people that produce great images. But I think a professional photographer has a well-developed feeling of sensitivity, and maybe even empathy. Just imagine how many ways you can shoot a coffee cup for example. Although you can shoot a pretty boring picture of that scene, a professional photographer will experiment and shoot the cup from a creative angle to make the most out of it.

In its very essence, a photographer is actually a decision maker: there is the pressure to take the best possible picture every time. You have to decide what is the right moment to shoot, if you should try and adjust the scene and whether a picture is good enough. There are a lot of rules that one could apply to what makes a good photograph, but actually it all comes down to creativity and gut feeling.

YOU WORK BOTH IN THE STUIO AND ON LOCATION. WHAT DO YOU PREFER?
In general I prefer working outside, with natural light. The studio functions as a laboratory, which makes it pretty interesting too though. But if I had to choose, I would go for shooting on location.

DO YOU WORK WITH A TEAM OR ALONE? AND HOW DO YOU START A PROJECT?
I prefer working with the least amount of people possible. A small team makes it easier to create teamwork and shared goals. I also love to work with both models and ‘real’ people. The thing I strive for though, with both groups, is capturing an unguarded moment. The moment they are unconsciously moving their bodies. It gives the pictures a certain nonchalance and easiness, that I think my work needs.

YOU MOSTLY PHOTOGRAPH FASHION EDITORIALS. WHY FASHION?
I am not your typical fashion girl, when it comes to shopping and style. I do like to tell a story though and think that works well with fashion photography. I love to create a mood, certain scene or character in my work. To balance it out, I also focus on travel photography. The thing those worlds have in common though, is that they both allow me to translate a certain energy or recognition.

That does not have to be a full story, in the sense that it has a beginning and an end. It can also be something small, like a color, a feeling, a garment.

HOW DO WE RECOGNIZE AN ELL PHOTOGRPHY WORK?
I really hope that the essence of that unguarded moment in which I take my photographs translates to the viewer. The element of movement also is a story line in my work and maybe a little rawness can be added to that. Things do not have to be perfect to be interesting.

WHAT ARE YOUR PLANS FOR THE FUTURE?
I just started a project for which I will be traveling to Antwerp soon and will also start working in the studio more. Although I just told you that shooting on location is my favorite activity, working in the studio can be really instructive. That is why I plan to spend some time there. Mostly though, I plan to do a lot of free work the coming weeks and months to experiment, learn and develop my work. I have been doing so much commissioned work lately that I kind of zeroed that one out for a while. So I am pretty excited about the future!

Check out more of Elisabeths work!

Enjoy your day!
-xoxo-
JP

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