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Interview: Photographer Ben Ernst (Netherlands)

Can you tell us a little about you?

Iam retired , living not far from Amsterdam, in a little village not far from the dunes, sea. I’m a self-taught photographer, no photography education, years ago some training workshops.

How and when did you get into photography?

I started photography decades ago, more than 50 years, before most of you were born. My first camera was a Practica. I had my own darkroom in the analog days. Photography was mostly family pictures, holiday etc. much later about 15-20 years modelphotography became more and more a favourite pastime. I often work with traveling models, our house is a models B&B. Many models stayed with us and from here they they travel to their shoots. Therefore I know models better than usual. We talk about photography, about traveling (also another hobby of us) and life issues. I like the models input. A lot of models stay every year during their travels. My wife enjoys to have parttime children too.

What does photography mean to you?

You could read above photography is a favourite pastime, hobby. Although I take photography very serious, its stays a hobby.

Please briefly describe your photography style for our readers.

I dont have a fixed style, like many other photographers: my style is no style. I don’t want to get pushed in a certain format, a fashionable style. Through the years I had many publications in many magazines on internet and in print. Sometimes I am happy, sometimes I hate the cheap quality of prints. Also I made a couple of books, mostly for myself , but I sell some books in small amounts.

Where do you get inspiration from?

My inspiration comes from many sides. I love photographers like: Stephan Vanfleteren, my all-time hero. But also Erwin Olaf and people like Ansel Adams, Lindberg and Herb Ritts.

Next to that I get my inspiration from art exhibitions, we visit often. When we walk through the country side I see beautiful locations, but also from a smile or a discussions.

Do you think in advance what you want in the picture?

Before a shoot I make a concept, moodboard, depending on the model. Her style, the location I choose.

Studio, on location or both?

I dont have a real preference, but love natural light. Unfortunately half of the year its too cold to go outside, but distances are small.

Would you consider yourself a hobbyist or a paid professional?

Iam an amateur (lover of art)

What has been your most memorable session and why?

I had many amazing sessions, great locations, wonderful models. The most memorable session was with @phylactere (Mariette) she asked me to do a session together in het grandfathers atelier.: in Paris. Mariette is a dancer but much more, her father an actor, her grandfather was a sculptor and grandmother painter. We were on an early Sunday morning in that cold atelier filled with sculptures, paintings. Light came in from one side. Grandfather gave me advice about light, shapes and standpoints. He was very proud at his granddaughter.

I was exhausted after 3 hours, all hese emotions, impressions. We came back to another session at grandmothers atelier.

Nikon or Canon? Favorite lens?

No Nikon,Canon, but most of the time Sony. I have a 85 mm ART lens, a 35 mm ART but now often work with Sony 24-105 mm. But camera, lens are not important. You are.

What is one piece of advice you would like to offer a new photographer looking to start their own business?

Iam no pro, so don’t really know, but for a pro it might be important to have your own signature. An advice to photographers in general: respect your models. You might pay them , but you don’t own them. Next thing: they have often much more experience, knowledge about photography. Talk in advance about what you like to make, important what levels you like to shoot.

What do you think of our new magazine?

Honestly I don’t see many magazines. I have to go for a deeper look.

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