Likes, egos and freedom

By David de Leeuw
David de LeeuwI share I lot of my photography on facebook as well as elsewhere on the internet. Aside from (if I’m lucky) ego-boosting numbers of likes, comments are made and often a dialogue with the audience ensues. A ritualistic exercise in futility, I find.
Some examples:

1. ‘Mind the rule of thirds!’

A favourite among some of my followers. The rule of thirds means that the object of your photo should be at an intersection located somewhere else than smack in the middle. That would be more pleasing to the eye. Well, I disagree, even if the principle were true in general. I like a lot of my work, especially reflections, with a horizon SMACK in the middle. I work intuitively, learn as I go and make up my own rules. Reinventing the wheel perhaps, but definitely evolving my way instead of fearfully studying all possible rules and techniques, or maybe attending a boring, ‘let’s drain those sheep of all their money’- kind of photography school, before finally venturing out. Does this make my photographs less pleasing to the eye? A growing number of buyers don’t seem to think so. And neither, of course, do I.

Cyclist, David de Leeuw Amsterdam 2015

2. ‘Make it a square!’

I truly have no idea why people so vehemently propagate square photos. I like all sorts of formats. Broad often makes a dramatic impression, long vertical photographs can both minimise and, therefore, accentuate some tiny detail(s) at the bottom edge. And, most importantly, I DO rather than THINK. My photographs come into existence without much thought, but with just the eye, intuition and experience. That is the ‘story’ and ‘philosophy’ behind my work.

3. ‘You always photograph reflections in water!’

Yes! 🙂 I bloody well photograph what I like. That’s what’s being an artist is about. If you don’t like it, don’t try and make me do something you DO like – go look for artists who cater to your needs. I do what I want and the popularity of my work is a pleasant consequence to me, not a driving factor. I am not an art takeaway – what were you thinking?

Now, this is not to say that I am a very accomplished photographer. Remember, I just started three years ago. I can safely say, however, that a lot of comments originate from people who –when I take a look at their photos- almost never succeed in bringing magic into their work. One can sense they are stifled by convention and obsessed with technique and equipment. ‘I have just bought a so-and-so camera with a this-and-that lense!’ they clamour, and still the results remain the same – bleak and boring, boring and bleak.

My equipment has been, and will be for some time, a modest compact camera – the Panasonic Lumix DMC LX5 and LX7. Suits me just fine and it’s all I need. I can carry it around and use it everywhere. Heck, I’ve seen people make fantastic shots with their mobile phones. Equipment is second to artistry. So, all you would-be critics: surpass me by your works, not words!

Two cities

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The Accidental Artist

Incidentally, Zart invites artists to write a guest post. When asked to do something for Zart on art and photography, David de Leeuw is for once at a loss for words. This does not happen very often. David is a senior editor and journalist in the first place. He did not take his work as a photographer very seriously at first. Until the success of his recent photo series Reflections blew everyone, the artist included, away. As so many others before him, he is an accidental artist really. Read his story.

The Accidental ArtistDavid de Leeuw

By David de Leeuw

Writing a blog post? About art and photography? I really have no clue. Alright, I take pictures and Zart sells them and rents them out. That transforms my pastime into art all of a sudden. Not that you will hear me complain. Let’s proceed to tell you how I go about the business of making photos, shall I? And why I do it in the first place.

From Keyboard Mercenary to Photographer

It wasn’t until 2012 that I bought a camera, a Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX5 (compact) and started photographing for real. I was 47 then. Before that, I’d never taken pictures. I thought it was bollocks, really. ‘You can always remember where you’ve been, right?’, I thought. That turned out to be not quite the whole story 🙂 As a child, I already had a sense for moods and atmospheres, not only with people but also with environments like cities. I didn’t know what to do with that inner world of magic and fantasy. At 25, I’d already turned my writing talent into word prostitution. After a working day as a keyboard mercenary, I’m completely empty. Who knew a camera could come in handy as an instrument to express myself? I discovered that in 2011, when I started taking simple snapshots. That was fun! Likes on facebook! Hi, I’m David and I’m a facebook-likes-addict. People encouraged me to proceed and I switched to a real camera.

Mirror City

Mirror City

Reflections

I’m steadily wising up as a photographer because I ‘have to’ venture out with my camera almost every day. EXPRESS YOURSELF! the expression animal keeps on urging me. So then I take a walk and see what happens. I love puddles. When I hold my camera just above it or even dip it in, lovely reflection photographs result. Why doesn’t everyone do it this way! Tourists and locals crowd the streets and look wearily upon the kneeling fatso taking pictures of water in the gutter. They don’t know, do they. Of course, reflection photos become a bit of a standard trick after a while but I LOVE IT! A recent discovery is the vertical panoramic picture, a great way to cut out a beautiful and relatively unspoilt image in ridiculously busy city centres with ugly cars and clothes everywhere. For the past half year or so, I’ve been using a photo editing programme which shows me all the colours in black and white and how to correct warped perspective so buildings appear straight again. Sharpening is a nice tool and highlights and what have you but you must be careful not to exaggerate, however, that can be good too at times and blah blah blah, look I’m already rambling.

Photography  as a Free Zone

Bike Star

Bike Star

In principle, everything I do is intuitive and through experience, a bit of craftsmanship creeps in. I don’t read manuals, it all comes naturally and that’s the way I’d like to keep it. I don’t do assignments, photography is my free zone. Of course, I have Great Examples, from Eva Besnyö and Jacob Olie to Pim Kops, a contemporary fellow Amsterdammer. All of them real artists. Am I one, or becoming one? Judge for yourself on Zart.

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