Wouter Van de Voorde

Where are you from/based now?

I was born in Belgium and lived in rural Flanders before I moved to Ghent to study painting and printmaking. In 2008 I migrated to Australia and since 2010 I’ve been living in Canberra, where I teach Photography at a local high school.

What is your background in Photography? What got you started?

Making images has been a significant part of my life for quite a while, in my early days as a painter I was obsessed with capturing the exact colors reality presented me with, I used to paint urban landscapes en plein air. In many ways this is still what I do as a photographer. When I moved to Australia I started a blog (the other side) to keep my friends and family in Belgium up to date, gradually the pictures became more and more autonomous instead of mere touristy captures.

What equipment do you use?

I started out with a Canon 5D combined with a range of analog 35mm lenses, a pretty good combination. Since early 2011 I have been using a Mamiya 7II, I also use a Ricoh Gr1s for snap-happy 35mm stuff.

What are your feelings on film vs digital?

Ever since I discovered 120 film I have hardly used digital, unless I need to capture moving images… I’m definitely more a film-shooter, the technical quality of 120 film surpasses any type of affordable digital camera. You just can’t get a dynamic range that comes close to film unless you’re using a medium format digital. That high dynamic range is important to me as I often include sky in my pictures. I also enjoy the inevitable slowness of film. I just find I can reproduce colors more accurately with film.

What is your work process? Are your shots planned or spontaneous?

My work is heavily based on me riding around the place on my bicycle. At 33 I have yet to get my full driver’s license… This makes exploring and hunting for locations a very slow process, being on a bike I can look around and practically go anywhere unnoticed. I often find myself staring at Google Earth’s satellite pictures looking for unusual textures worth exploring. (Urban) exploration has always been a big part of my motivation to document places. The majority of my pictures are unplanned, but I tend to revisit places I captured before. Hours of post-production color-correcting are also a large part of the process.

What drives you to keep taking photographs?

Once I wrote an artist statement in which I called myself a permanent tourist. I still think this is an accurate description of what a lot of my work is about. Not being ‘from here’ gives me a different perspective on Australian reality. After I’ve been out taking pictures I often have the feeling my eyes have been opened and I notice things that other people walk past, I feel a kind of moral obligation to capture some of these moments and places.

A couple of weeks ago I took a picture of one of the most photographed landmarks in Canberra; The Commonwealth Bridge. Most photographers picture this mastodon in a very similar kind of way making it virtually impossible to tell one picture from the other. I was riding back home from work and the sun was shining under the bridge at a very low angle, the fading light drew golden outlines around the weeds growing between the tiles. At the moment I took the picture it seemed like a fairly insignificant capture, but looking back at the picture after I edited it, I found it had recorded an unseen dreamlike quality of this landmark.

Who or what inspires you?

Coming from a country where painting has been deeply embedded in the culture for centuries, I look at reality though the eyes of a painter. Primarily this means that I’m obsessed with color. I seem to thrive on certain atmospheres, some places just call out to me. Studying Aboriginal culture to me is the only way to understand this weird island-continent.

The Internet has made it possible to look at virtually any photographer’s work, at times I find it more inspiring to look at pictures of people with no photographic ambitions. I avoid studying the work of photographers I admire.

Are you working on a project at the moment?

I’m not working on any specific projects, although I’m planning another solo-exhibition next year, there are a few group shows and publications on the horizon. I would like to make a book, but there is no pressure or urgency. I work rather slowly so whatever comes along that I find appealing I’ll take on board.


No comments:

Post a Comment