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Interview: Photographer Robbert Ridderbeekx (The Netherlands)

Can you tell us a little about you?

I am a portrait photographer from the Netherlands. I have always loved photography, but I chose another career path first. I have worked almost 26 years in the automotive field as an engineer. I’ve always wondered if I would be able to do this for a living, doing what I love. So when I found myself at a crossroad in 2022 at my job, I finally decided to take the jump and try building a business as a fulltime photographer. With the support from my family I have been doing so since late 2022.

How and when did you get into photography?

In 2007 I bought my first DSLR to get myself acquainted with all the camera settings and bring my photography to a higher level. I took some workshops and evening courses over the next couple of years. But never had a full education in photography, mostly it was trial and error and learning as you go. In those early years I was photographing everything and gradually I found that I liked taking portraits the most. The interaction with people and the responses I get when the final results are presented still puts a smile on my face.

What does photography mean to you?

I like creating something where there previously was nothing. I used to do this at my job as an engineer, creating something with 3D CAD drawings was a part of the job I really liked. And I have found that anytime I am creating something, this is most fulfilling for me. Photography is all about creating something. Capturing that right moment when someone is looking their best and you see the perfect picture unfolding through the lens, finetuning it and then capturing it feels great. Afterwards when editing in photoshop, I can really lose myself in it. I’ll put some music on and I am able to clear my head whilst editing.

Please briefly describe your photography style for our readers.

I would love to explain my style, but I am not really sure if I have a very recognizable style. I sometimes see a photographers portfolio and it is all a very similar style, I love that, but I don’t see that in my portfolio. I think I do have a style when it comes to male models, a specific black and white style with shadows and some pretty big editing afterwards. My editing style for female models is usually soft and warm, as for male models it tends to be a bit harder. In my studio I mostly work with flash, but sometimes I use daylight also. When on location I always take one flash with me, just the one, and that’ll have to do. I do use it outdoors but it is always in combination with natural light, it has to be a perfect balance between existing light and flash light. I don’t like a very clear flash visible in location photography. Writing this down it becomes clear to me that I like to play with the lights, and move them around a lot. Until I get the result that I want for that specific shot or entire shoot. In my studio shoots I sometimes like shadows, at other times I hate them. It is all about that moment and that time, what feels right. And when I achieve an aesthetically pleasing photo. This probably explains why I don’t have that same overall style, as I use both studio flash and natural light, or a combination of both, and I do this outdoors as well as indoors. I am not one to place the lights and find a setting that works, and then just keep doing that. I believe this is a result from my early shooting days, because before I had my own studio space, I used to shoot in the living room. I’d move some furniture around and build a temporary studio for each shoot. I’ve actually learned a lot from that, as the lighting was never the same. I’d always had to finetune the lights, and be creative with the space I had to work with. Thinking outside of the box to get the results I was aiming for.

Where do you get inspiration from?

My inspiration comes from the interaction with the person I am shooting, we decide the way we go together. At times a moodboard is created but it is not uncommon that the final results have nothing to do with that moodboard. So it is a lot of going with the flow. I don’t want to copy other photographers’ work, so when a moodboard is used it is indeed only for the mood, but like I said, I can very easily drift away from that.

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

At times I do, mostly it is going with the flow. I had a shoot with a male model and I knew I wanted to do a very raw black and white portrait with big shadow parts. That was one of the times I really had a clear picture in my head of what I wanted. The final result came out exactly as I had seen it in my mind. I try to do this portrait with most male models and it is (like mentioned before) the only style I have which I can truly call “my style”, which gets recognized by others. But it is reserved for male models only, as my editing style for these photo’s won’t work on women.

Studio, on location or both?

I like both, studio is more straightforward as there are no influences from the outside, you have complete control over the lighting. The studio always delivers. Creatively I like location photography more, as it asks more from a photographer. What do you do when the sun is out, or a cloudy, rainy day etc. And I love how quickly you can get a totally different vibe in a photo when you turn 90 degrees and get a totally different background and setting.

Would you consider yourself a hobbyist or a paid professional?

I have always considered myself a hobbyist and am now trying to make it as a paid professional. It’s been a difficult transition, since you have to leave the TFP-scene behind for now to build on a steady income. But it’s worth it when doing what you love.

What has been your most memorable session and why?

That would be the first location shoot I did with a model. We had worked together before in a studio session. It was October and the idea was for the model to lay in a puddle of water with some leaves floating around her. I had my lights with me (lights, because at that time I thought that was how it worked). And when the model sat down in the ice-cold water, and I took a test shot without flash, all of that planning went out the window. I loved the look, and I quickly decided to use natural light only and start shooting as I didn’t want the model to be in the water for too long. The results truly amazed me, and at that point I realized what you can do with location photography.

Nikon or Canon? Favorite lens?

My first camera in 2007 was a Canon 450D, which I later replaced for a full frame 5D mark II. I actually shot with the mark II up until 2021 when I replaced it with a mirrorless R6. I skipped the 5D mark III and IV as I didn’t feel the need to upgrade just for the upgrade. I was still producing great images with that old camera despite other cameras being newer and “better”. I truly believe the photographer takes the photo and the camera is just a tool you use do it with. My favorite lens would be the 70-200 2.8 IS USM. But recently I am also shooting more and more with an 85 mm 1.4.

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

I find it difficult to answer this question as it is exactly the situation I am finding myself in right now, and I am learning as I go. I guess I would say, go for it!

What do you think of our new magazine?

I love the fact that this is a true non-profit magazine for models and photographers. Beautiful pictures and talent all around, keep it up! Thank you for giving me the opportunity to be a part of it!

Model and Mua-Kim Viergever Styling-fantasy design

Model and Mua-Kim Viergever Styling-fantasy design

Model Sharon Holtermans

Model Sharon Holtermans

Model Joey Esser

Model Joey Esser

Model Chayenne Jacobi

Model Michelle

Model Madiecke Posthumus

Model Chayenne Jacobi

Model-Anouk Duits Muah- Fleur op de Laak styling-fantasy Design

Model-Gaëlle Baekelandt Muah-Lookslikereny styling-fantasy Design

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