From 12 – 14 March 2016 the annual event ‘Professional Imaging‘ took place in Nijkerk. Every year thousands of photographers of all kind find their way to this Imaging / AV Event. The PI is an excellent way to meet other photographers, gaze at the latest gadgets and products and best of all, attending presentations of very interesting photographers.
In the (very) early Sunday morning I headed off to Nijkerk to be in the Adobe Theatre in time for Little Shao’s presentation. Before Little Shao became a NIKON ambassador he was urged by his parents to get a college degree. Sounds familiar. During his studies he developed a passion for urban dancing. When a respectable photographer offered him to take his pictures, the results weren’t that good at all. He then entered a bet with this person and told him he could deliver better pictures within in short period of time. So he did, he won the bet and a new career was born. His understanding of dancing makes that he almost intuitive knows when to press the shutter to get the best shot from urban and classic dancers posing in the most extreme body positions. In a later stage he combined the action shots with architecture. Check out his portfolio to see what I mean. His portfolio attracted the attention of several big brands, like NIKON, Puma and Red Bull. Word came out that even Madonna had become interested in working with him. In order to show his work best, Little Shao immediately started working on a new website. He worked for three days in a row without sleeping. Later he found out that Madonna just needed a peak at his Instagram account to be impressed already. The message of Little Shao during this presentation at the PI was clear. Be prepared and think ahead of your gear, location, poses and so on, and the best shots will come out almost automatically. Most of the times, Little Shao only takes one or two shots. Very impressive!
The few empty seats in the theatre were all taken by the time MR. Joel Grimes got on stage. For over thirty years Joel has been taken tens of thousands of portraits (he claims, and I believe him). Everyone interested in photography must have seen his online tutorials and behind the scenes. In person he is no one else than on screen: enthusiastic and driven. He told us: ‘if you have the passion to create, you are an artist’. You are in charge of your own work. Rules (of third) are helpful, but they can also be broken! There is no such thing as the perfect skin color nor lighting setup. The artist in charge makes his or her own creative decision. Some may like it, some may not. Don’t let the critics hold you down in any way. Do what you like best and results will follow! One million dollar advice of Joel: ‘repeat, repeat, repeat and repeat. Every time you repeat you get better and better!’ Like Little Shao he mentioned his color blindness. Disadvantage? Heck no! ‘This makes me different from most other photographers in the field, because I see the world differently’, he stated proudly.
Then MR. Eddy van Wessel entered the stage. This Dutch war photojournalist has been awarded with the Dutch Silver Camera 2015 for his series on ‘Sinjar, de battle for Highway 47′. For many years Eddy has entered the most dangerous places on earth to capture the ugly truth close to the front lines. With his good old mechanical Leica’s Eddy focusses mainly on the human aspect in disaster areas and war zones. Also for people living and fighting in these areas ‘daily life’ continues. The laundry needs to be done and soldiers need their haircut. Eddy captures those moments in a spectacular raw way. Always in black and white. Color does not add anything to his images, he claims. On each assignment he carries about ten rolls of film. Each time he presses the shutter he is very aware what happened in front of his lens.
As Joel told us earlier on, Eddy also breaks many rules in photography. The line of horizon straight at all times? Not the case in a lot of Eddy’s work. As long as there are other lines to be distinguished in the photo which can be used as reference, it works for Eddy. ‘You have seen so much suffering, how do you deal with these emotions yourself’, someone from the audience asked. Eddy replied: ‘that’s not too bad’, I have seen it some time ago and dealt with it back there. It’s my job to take these images to ‘our world’. When my work is out, the spectator has to deal with the images, one way or the other. While working in dangerous areas Eddy depends heavily on his intuition. If his gut feeling tells him not to move forward, he won’t, even if a great shot is waiting to be taken over there.
After his presentation and explanation of some of his intense work I had the chance to shake hands with the man himself at the Leica stand. Without no hesitation I purchased his book: ‘The edge of civilization‘ which he signed gracefully for me. I highly recommend it!
PS I apologize for the poor quality of the pics I took of the key note speakers. I was only equipped with my smartphone and the lighting in the theatre wasn’t in my advantage.