One of the things that I am asked most often is about my way of working. Many people wonder how there can be room for spontaneity if my pictures are sort of prepared in advance.
I think that perhaps there is a misunderstanding that you are either a well prepared photographer or a spontaneous one and I think that one does not exclude the other. I have been a professional designer/artist for the largest part of my life and this means that I think like a designer. When you design something you can visualise the end product and work your way backward to the lines on the paper which will make sure that the finished product will look like the one you visualised. You know how to translate your vision into lines, shapes and steps that need to be taken to get to the desired end result.
In my photography I work very much like this. I scout a lot of locations, those that I like, I will visit again and an image of how I would like a photo to look like, will take shape in my mind. Then I go backwards, thinking of all the elements and steps that would go into a picture like that. I think about when the light would hit the scene just right, when to expect fog or mist, what season would be best (and this is quite important, because the sun will rise in a different spot in different seasons and this can make a huge difference) and what kind of composition I would need to get it right. I am extremely thorough in these preparations. Most of the time I will know exactly where I need to be to take the picture I would like to take, because I have taken test shots of the location.
This is what happened with the pictures that I took of this lake. I went to this lake numerous times over the past few years, making sure I had not missed any possible points of view that could work. It took quite some time to get the right conditions, but I knew that once the night temperature would be very low and the forecast would say it would warm up quickly, I might have a chance of taking the picture I had been hoping for. And so, a few weeks ago, I was walking around this lake and all of a sudden saw a bit of mist forming and the sun was hitting the tree tops. I ran to the spot where I expected to see the magic happen and it did. At this point I just respond to the moment of magic. I hear and see nothing else than this scene and this is when I start working intuitively. A few days later I had the incredible luck to have something similar happen again. Autumn had transformed the yellows into oranges and I was able to take another picture of this scene.
And whilst I was waiting for the magical moment to arrive for the first picture, about an hour before the sunlight lit up the trees, I photographed this scene in shades of pastel...
Below is a picture that I took whilst scouting. This is not a picture that I had had in mind, but I would not have known that this scene would not work for me if I had not taken this picture. It is not a bad picture, but it was not what I was looking for
And this is another picture of the same magical morning of the first picture in this post. I loved how the fog enveloped the trees and to this moment I don't know which of the pictures I took is my favourite
So my way of working does not exclude spontaneity, it does not mean I can't enjoy the magic of the moment, but it means that I am prepared to capture the magical moment if and when it happens. If I had not prepared the picture, my chances of actually capturing it, would have been way lower.
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To learn all about capturing the enchantment of the forest in every season I recommend my eBook : The Magic Of Forest Photography