Interview: Photographer: Rik Claus (Belgium)
I graduated at Sint-Lucas Gent in 1976 (Luca, school of art) and I have worked as a desktop publisher in the advertising, printing and photogravure business.
I started a second activity as graphic designer in 1989 on a Mac II and I have bought my first digital Fuji camera in 2001 (6MB) followed by several Nikon cameras and I am still using a D810/D850 and Z6 II.
I have followed the digital photographic CVO-courses of an adult education program to refresh my basic knowledge of photography.
I went to the hobby photography EOS-wevelgem club in 2012 and joined the board in 2013.
I did my first landscape workshop in 2015 with Sebastian Vervenne. (http://www.fgrikclaus.be/travel-egypt-deserts/) and discovered the splendid deserts of Egypt. It was a fantastic experience and I also met some great people like Thierry Vanhuysse, whom I could persuade to join our club as well - meanwhile he became a Starling companion (but he is unfortunately no longer member of our club).
A year later we went to India with our club (http://www.fgrikclaus.be/travel-india/) where I could photograph local people in their colourful surroundings. (it is an old site that has not been updated ever since).
Every year we have a model shoot in our club, where I discovered the pleasure working with models (in the beginning none of them was a professional model, they were all working on TSP base).
As I have met some colleagues on workshops or meetings I did a first organised shoot in Spain in 2017 (organisation Thierry Goovaerts) and ever since I am having an annual foreign shoot with a small group of photography friends.
I had the chance to do a model shoot in the Camargue (organisation Svetlana Frolikova) last year when it was allowed during Covid. As we also organise a biennial photo salon with the club I was very happy to get the audience award in 2021 with a picture of the horses in the Camargue.
A former member of our club owns a great hangar where we have set up a big studio and a small one (used rather in winter time). Together with another photographer we try to organise a monthly shoot, also at TSP base.
If I am doing organised shoots with professional or experienced models we are with several photographers. When I am doing a shoot with a hired model and she knows how to do it, I mostly do not give many instructions.
As I am the photographer I choose the place or the surroundings and I let the model do here moves or poses. When she hears the click from the camera she moves and I take the picture. I do not like to see similar shots from fellow photographers all working on the same set. So I try to deliver a different picture by using post-processing.
For me personal it is all in the face. If I have a beautiful model in an exceptional location with the most beautiful dress but with zero expresion, sorry but the shot is wasted.
Sometimes I was so lucky to have a model that was able to do the whole range of expressions (on demand). I also had models that kept the same face during the whole shoot. Such models you can put on a beach, on a graveyard, on a tennis court or whatever, they will still keep that same (pretty) face wherever you take them.
Working a whole day with a model you may see a different result as the day progresses, because the model will feel more (connected). I do think it is crucial to have a connecting with your model (everybody says so, but that's the truth).
I must say I am still working on that too and I am learning it bit by bit. I do not know who was the most uncomfortable in the beginning, the TSP model or me.
When shooting in public locations, it happens to be disturbed by passers-by, although they rarely walk though the image if a softbox is set up. And if you are lucky, a passer-by can even add an extra (nice) accent to your photo (as on the back cover). Usually people are just watching as the model also attracts some attention, especially with the male audience.
I like to photograph people in general. Sometimes friends ask me to shoot at their party where I use my 70/200mm Nikkor lens. I think ordinary people are at their best or for sure most natural when they do not know they are being photographed. The moment they have spot the photographer you are too late and their face or attitude have changed. I mostly do focus on one person in the group while the other persons become less explicit in the picture.
Since 2016 I take the pictures of the Fluvia fire brigade exercises. As I like to be in the middle of the action and give the same feeling to the viewer as well, I use the Nikkor 14/24 mm to be close to the subject.
A simple advice, as with the digital cameras (or mobile) everybody is a photographer these days: I would say, try to develop your own style of taking pictures or by the post-processing. In a way or at the end most of the software programs are offering the same possibilities, so if you have found your way in one of those, keep on using it and go all the way!
Claudia Olloqui Guallar
Luisina Coral Gomis
Alba Abril Moreno
Luisina Coral Gomis F
Veronica de Vera