Interview: Photographer Maarten Quaadvliet (Netherlands)
Can you tell us a little about you?
My name is Maarten Quaadvliet, 54 years old and I live in Eindhoven. I studied graphic design at the Art Academy in Maastricht.
During my work as a graphic designer I was often faced with the importance of well taken photography. During that period I directed several photo shoots and discovered that you can create a completely new world using photography.
From that moment my passion for photography grew and I bought my first mirror reflex camera about 12 years ago. I initially started with photographing landscapes, travel photography, people and later models.
What I really like is the synergy during the photo shoot. Everyone has their own discipline, with one common goal, ‘creating a beautiful and captivating image’.
How and when did you get into photography?
I started out photography 12 years ago. This period has been a real discovery for me, to find the right light equipment. At that period, I had no knowledge at all and was being advised by the "experts" from the local photography shop and they advised me to use flashlights.
By using these flashlights I was not convinced about the final result and I was often "in a battle" with these lights. The output looked too artificial and too unnatural for me. Due to the enormous power output that light destroyed all the ambient and natural light.
After these experiences I discovered that natural light workes the best for me. No limitation in synchronization times and just observing and react in what the light is doing with the subject. However I just missed that little extra light to illuminate the darker shadows and creating highlights on the hair and shoulders.
Finally, I discovered fresnelspots to add that extra spark in the photo. Since I was sceptical about the light quality (CRI), I made the decision to buy my first fresnelspot from the brand Lupolux. This purchase was really a relief for me and now I was able to create the images that I had in mind. From that moment I expanded my light sources with professional fresnelspots from ARRI. (L7C and L7D)
These fresnelspots provide pretty harsh light. To soften that harsh light, I use reflection screens, diffusers or just the reflection from a white ceiling or wall.
The benefit of using these fresnelspots is that I can observe what the light is doing on the subject. This speeds up my learning process.
What is your purpose in photography?
My purpose in photography is to capture the expression of the model. Sometimes I talk a lot and explain the model what I have in mind to get the best expression out of her.
Regarding the expression I often said: "You don’t see an image, you have to feel an image."
So emotions are the most difficult aspect to capture. It depends on the right atmosphere and how the model is able to show her vulnerability. In that case you need some empathetic abilities as well to create a pleasant atmosphere to get the best out of the models expression.
What does photography mean to you?
Photography means a lot to me! I am a pretty calm person and sometimes a little bit introvert. With photography I am able to tell stories about how I see the world, without using a single word. It's not technology that counts for me, but more the story and the emotional value in a photo that can touch the viewer.
Please briefly describe your photography style for our readers.
Over the years I have developed my own style, which is apparently recognized by other people. This distinction has probably been made by my discovery for light and trying to find the right words to get the best out of the models expression.
Do you think in advance what you want in the picture ?
Absolutely! I create comprehensive moodboards, which covers all the elements in a photo, like the theme, the colors of the styling, the make-up and the hair styling.
If I work on location I explore the location on forehand. I check the space in the room and try to figure out how the sun is positioned at a certain time. I prefer no bright sunlight. A room with windows positioned on the north works best for me and provides very flattering light.
Creating a pretty comprehensive moodboard has many advantages for me. I experience the photo shoot in advance which reinforces my focus and vision during the shoot.
I never consider the possibilities at the location itself. That is really a waste of time for me and the model as well. It’s better to spend that time in creating captivating images.
Where do you get inspiration from?
Most of the time I get my inspiration from social media websites like 500px, Instagram, Facebook and sometimes Pinterest. Certain music can inspire and me help me to create images in my mind that I can use in my work.
Do you edit your photos and what do you do about it?
I edit my photos, but not too much. I always try to capture the best and most flattering photos during the photoshoot. So I don’t have to repair so much in post processing.
I work "non-destructive" and have developed my own workflow in which I can adjust the image as often as I want. I do not use "softenings" filters or "frequency separation with a lasso tool”. This affects the characteristics of the model too much in my opnion.
I start my editing in Lightroom and adjust the white balance. After that I switch to Photoshop and do some detail adjustments, like retouch, dodge and burn, contrast and finally some color corrections.
Studio, on location or both?
Location. The atmosphere of the location can have a lot of impact on the image and could give the image a narrative character.
What locations or topics do you like the most?
In the past I often rented a hotel room which costs a lot of money. This is why I redesigned my home so it can be easily transformed into a hotel room. It saves me a lot of money, so I’m not dependented for a hotel room to be available or not.
I only photograph women. Women are very versatile in expressions such as romantic, tough, soft, hard or sporty. In fact the possibilities of women are infinity in my opinion.
What or where do you absolutely want to photograph?
I really like to go to a luxury apartment, including a swimming pool and a beautiful beach nearby. Due to the lack of time it hasn’t happened yet.
What is the most important thing you have learned in recent years?
A photo is not determined by the equipment, but by the expression of the model.
What are your future plans or what can we expect from you soon?
Photography is a sparetime activity an I don’t have concrete plans for the future. I try to improve myself every day. I enjoy photography very much and will be inspired by people that I meet on my photography journey.
What are you looking for in the models you work with?
Like I mentioned before, the expression of a model is very important for me! The expression of the model can make or break the image. Regarding the type of model, I always look for models with a classy, civilized and open appearance.
What do you think of our new magazine?
This magazine looks very beautiful and professional. Lots of inspiring photo material and interesting background stories.
Do you have a message to the modeling world
It's not the equipment that makes the image, but the expression of the model. If the photographer is able to create a pleasant and respectful atmosphere, the model will show her vulnerability and will open her emotions which increases the chance of a captivating image.