“You look for compositions, master the technique and create images that align with who you are. They come forth from your own personality, your childhood and environment, and when you listen, you’ll find all this works to constitute a style that is distinctly yours.”
Eddy Wenting (born in 1970) is a Dutch contemporary photographer currently based in The Hague, The Netherlands. He studied photography at the “Royal Academy of Art in The Hague”.
“I aim to bring structure to a chaotic world.”
Interview with Eddy Wenting
Eddy, why did you become a photographer?
I think it started with my fascination for old cameras. My Rolleiflexes remain beautiful objects.
Is there anything in particular that you want to say with your pictures? And in other words: What is it that a photograph can say at all?
I’m not really trying to say anything. It’s purely a matter of composing with the elements until you sense things are right, and you hope that the viewer feels the same way. Images can certainly conjure up emotions of beauty or repulsion or, in the case of probing press photos, become an impetus to take action. Photography can certainly change opinions.
You take landscape photographs, street scenes and portraits – three different genres. Is there some common ground or do you take on each genre differently?
The approach is much the same; you could say it’s a matter of slowly zooming in. Landscapes I often shoot with a wide-angle lens, street photography with a standard objective and portraiture with a medium telephoto lens. Using different focal lengths influences the way you create a composition.
The travelling is often done on a tight schedule and in the short time you’re given, you aim to make the most of it. If locations turn out to be special, you try to return there to catch better light.
With commissioned work or portraiture there’s usually more time and certainly with commercial work it is already a given what a photo should emanate or communicate. In that case you can slowly work your way to the end result.
Can you recall any special moment shooting pictures?
“In that large, vast emptiness, you get a clear sense of how small you are.”
I was in Botswana, driving back to camp at the end of the day after a beautiful afternoon spent amongst the lions. It was twilight. There was no phone reception, no internet. I was asked to take a letter and supplies to the next camp. In that large, vast emptiness, you get a clear sense of how small you are, and how, without your guide to depend on, you are hopelessly lost.
Thanks to my camera I’ve been able to visit some beautiful locations and met some great people. As a photographer this is something I’m aware of again and again.
Which photographer has inspired you most?
Man Ray still fascinates me. His compositional use of space and framing never ceases to amaze me. He manages to create exciting images out of ostensibly disparate elements.
What’s your favorite photography quote?
“If your photos aren’t good enough, then you’re not close enough.”
How would you describe your photographic language and creative process?
In my photographs I try to look for a sense of equilibrium and stillness. I try to bring order to the chaotic world around me.
What’s important in order to develop an own photographic language?
I think it’s difficult to aim for something in specific. You look for compositions, master the technique and create images that align with who you are. They come forth from your own personality, your childhood and environment, and when you listen, you’ll find all this works to constitute a style that is distinctly yours.
What do you consider to be the axis of your work – technically and conceptually?
Composition is the most important element. I use photoshop much like a darkroom: colour balance, saturation and retouching. To me a photograph either works or it doesn’t. I don’t cut and paste. Nor do I assemble different photographs into the one image.
Conceptually, I aim to create a form of stillness or equilibrium, which is sometimes almost mathematical or architectural in approach in that I use straight lines and exact framing to maximize the expressiveness of an image.
Where do you draw inspiration from for your photographic projects?
“Asking people to sit for me is often more like an excuse that allows me to look at them even longer.”
People remain my biggest source of inspiration. I often find myself looking at a special face just a bit too long for comfort, wondering about the proportions, what would be a beautiful or interesting angle. But before I even get to see any of that, I already feel uncomfortable, and the person being observed probably is, too. (laughs)
So asking people to sit for me is often enough more like an excuse that allows me to look at them even longer.
What kind of photography equipment and photographic supplies do you use?
I’ve been working with Nikon for years now. The cameras are trustworthy; they’ve never let me down. At the moment I use the D800. I make use of natural light as much as possible and often use a tripod for landscapes and interiors. If there’s not enough natural light, I use Bowens monoheads.
What’s your favorite website about photography?
I travel on the train a lot and I use that time to check Flipboard on my phone. Flipboard features news about photographers, new equipment and exhibitions. Important articles I forward to friends and also to my own email so that I can check out the relevant sites at my own leisure later.
What photography book would you recommend?
“Studio” by Paolo Roversi: beautiful photography and beautifully printed. You feel the love for the craft and the concentration of model and photographer.
Which advice would you give to an emerging photographer?
Last but not least, let’s switch roles: Which question would you have liked to be asked in this interview about your work that I didn’t ask? Please feel free to add it – as well as the answer.
Q: Besides photography, are there other sources of inspiration?
A: Film is a great source of inspiration. I love arthouse films. When I saw “Il Conformista” by Bernardo Bertolucci I was impressed with the cinematography and the moods he was able to create. Vittorio Storaro did some amazing camera work!