by Kristel Schneider
For me, creativity flows best when I go into nature with an open mind. No planning at all.
Light, passion and creativity are three elements Andrea combines in her beautiful photography art work.
Thanks to Facebook I got introduced to this creative Dutch photographer, one of the good things about social media,
you can get connected to new talented people.
After reading more about Andrea I think I can add a fourth element, words.
Next to photography she likes to combine words with images, her weekly quotes are very much appreciated on her Facebook page.
Can you introduce yourself in a few lines explaining your background and how you got introduced to (nature) photography?
As a child I liked to stroll through nature. One day my dad gave me his old analogue SLR camera which made me very happy. As a family we would often go to the mountains on holiday and I always took the camera with me. We walked a lot and during these long walks I always took pictures of nature in all its variety. I think that’s when my love for nature and photography started. Unfortunately, this camera didn’t live very long. At the age of twenty I started in the fashion industry, where I designed graphic prints for children’s clothing. For work I had to travel to Asia and in Europe and during these visits a small compact camera was always in my bag. During photography trips I also did fashion styling for the company brochures of different brands I had worked for. Fashion photography doesn’t suit me, but I can still remember the beautiful places we explored and the wonderful light situations. After a number of years working for a boss I decided to become a freelancer because I had the need for freedom. During this period I met my partner for whom photography is also a hobby. On our first holiday I took photos every now and then with his SLR camera. Then from that moment it started to itch again. I had missed that viewfinder and the use of different lenses. The next holiday I had my own digital SLR camera. My passion for macro photography started in our garden. I am a self-taught photographer and I learned by experimenting. After the first experiments, I left the garden and went into nature again to discover more. And up till know I am still discovering.
Last year you made the big step to become a full time photographer, a step a lot of people would dream of but not dare to take, can you tell us what made you decide to follow your dream and about the biggest challenges you had to face.
I am an intuitive person and I take most decisions with the heart. I do not think or analyze that much, I just do if it feels good to me. I did the same when I decided to start as a freelance designer. One day I came to work and felt that this wasn’t an inspiring setting any longer. Before I knew it I was in the office of my boss and I told him I was going to quit. Just like that. When something feels so strong I have to follow my intuition. Of course I had my doubts afterwards but that was only my head because in my heart I knew that I had made the right choice. And it was the right decision since my own business was doing very well for many years. When I restarted with the photography in 2006 I instantly felt this would be very important to me in the near future. The only question was how and when? It primarily remained a hobby beside my job as a graphic designer. Three years ago I came up with the idea of teaching workshops. But I immediately put the idea aside as a result of a lack of faith. I thought “What do I have to offer, I am not doing anything special…?”
I didn’t follow a course or study in photography, so who am I to think that I can teach workshops? To have faith in myself was my biggest challenge. Although I knew that photography would be my next challenge, I also knew that I was not ready yet. Just like many other things my photography came right out of my heart, based on feeling or emotion and “technique” meant nothing to me. I knew exactly what I did for myself, but to make it clear to other people is totally different. I have used two extra years to grow into my own photography, to create my own recognizable style and to find a way to share it with others in a way that suits me. The overwhelming enthusiastic comments and wonderful results after the first workshops gave me the confidence to move forward and to take the next step: to stop as a freelance graphic designer. Of course this was a big step and it is not possible yet to live just on photography but with the support of my partner and his confidence in me I am sure I will manage. I am convinced that as long as you follow your heart and if you have faith in what you you succeed in the end.
The subjects and compositions of your images are often ‘dreamy’. By playing with depth of field and natural light you created your personal style. Can you explain how you built up your images, do you go with the flow and let the subject decide your composition or do you prepare your images beforehand by knowing your subject and surrounding?
For me, creativity flows best when I go into nature with an open mind. No planning at all. I have tried it once, but that worked counter productively. It totally blocks me and as soon as I let it go, creativity is there again. I am not a person who goes for ‘innovative’ pictures either. I just want to enjoy and take photos which make me happy. When I look through my camera I feel a strong bond with nature and everything goes naturally. I can sit down somewhere spontaneously and from that moment I just look through the camera and start exploring. By photographing that way my flow rises and the pictures appear by themselves. Sometimes it seems as if nature takes me by the hand and shows me its beauty. For me the most important element in my pictures is “the light”. Eight years ago I read in a photo magazine that you could learn a lot “by reading the light in pictures”. I really had no clue what they were talking about. However this sentence always stayed on my mind and now I understand and underline the importance. Light is always challenging.
‘An image says more than words’ . Moreover you like to combine images and words in one frame.
Can you tell us the thoughts behind this ?
I always had a weak-spot for text and I think that might be caused by my graphic background. The combination of text and image has always been fascinating to me. Text and image can reinforce each-other. Although to my opinion an images should speak for itself, I sometimes have a feeling the picture is out of balance or is missing something. Text then can make it more complete. In addition, I love quotes. I like to set people thinking on certain topics. The quotes are not mine but I find them on the internet. I am a spiritual person but I like to keep both feet very firmly on the ground. Spirituality has brought me a lot in particularly in creating my self-image and defining how I want to live. Photography has also taught me more about myself and it has changed me at a certain stage. It gave inner peace, and it brought me closer to myself.
What are your personal photography goals for 2014 and what would you like to achieve in photography in the long term? Do you have any exhibitions or other events coming up ?
Of course, I hope the workshops will continue to be as successful as they are at the moment. I am very happy the way things work out now. I love to share my passion and knowledge with people. In addition, I still have some wishes like my own book for example. I have already made a good start but it’s on hold because not all the pictures are there to complete the book so as to to tell the story. So, that’s still work in progress. Exhibitions will also continue although nothing has been planned for the coming month. This season I am invited by two photography clubs to give a lecture. This is a new development for me and I am really excited. I also would love to bring people closer to nature and photography. Using my knowledge, my images and with music as an additional dimension. I have an idea, but this has to evolve too. I see that as ‘my’ future music.
Can you share some of your personal photographs you like best?
And can tell us about the conditions and your emotions when you captured this image?
Perhaps it might be a bit strange but when asking for my favorite picture I will not come up with a macro-photo. Probably because I have made so many and this kind of photography is so me. Landscape photography, however, is more challenging for me and if I finally manage to make a good picture it makes me intensely happy. This picture was made during our holiday in Brazil, at the waterfalls of Iguaçu. Facing the Victoria Falls a couple of years ago I thought there couldn’t be a more beautiful place than that but I was wrong. The Iguaçu falls are overwhelming. We stayed at the park so we could make use of the very first light till the very last. That is what we have done for two full days. It’s very special to see how the same location changes during the day just by the movement of the sun. The light at sunset had my preference and I was fascinated by the glowing water and the birds. The light and the atmosphere also in this type of photography remain the most important for me and both were there, through the mist and the evening sun. In this case I made use of a tripod which I never use for my macro photography. I have also used a Lee filter. I have made a whole series of pictures but this one is certainly my favorite.
Andrea had a look at Kristel’s website (www.kristelschneiderphotography.com) and picked out some images that really popped out for her.
She explains why:
1. My favorite picture from Kristel is this one. As much as I love light, I also have a weak spot for darkness in pictures. I think you made a perfect balance of those two in this shot. The composition is very strong. The small delicate drop is beautiful in the ‘spotlight’. It really touches me with its serenity and loneliness.
2. I love it out of focus in a picture. You still can see what kind of birds they are. Beautiful to see how you used your creativity to make your own perception of it. The light on the water surface is beautiful.
3. In this delicate picture I really love how you have used the light. The softness all around brings your eyes right to the subject. The way the two flowers are reaching out to the light…just like they are telling their own story. Beautiful and sensitive.
4. Just Beautiful. The movement and colours, I love it. Strong composition. Sometimes you don’t need to say more you just have to look and enjoy.