Lucky shot, or is it…?

By David de Leeuw

David de Leeuw‘WOW!’ – I’m sure every photography enthusiast recognizes the feeling when you hit the shutter button on your camera and instantly realize you have a winner here. It happens to me once every 100 shots or so. Not that much, indeed. And while my ‘a day without a good photo is a day not lived’ – motto drives me to pimp and/or fantasize non-existent beauty in my other pics, deep down I KNOW that’s no way to crank up my success rate.

So maybe good things are worth waiting for and I should thank the Lord or the Flying Spaghetti Monster for my luck, or is there a way to trick fate into handing me more WOWs?

David de Leeuw
Fortunately, there is. Luck can be tempted to be on your side. A few tricks I employ to that end:

1 Go out a LOT.

Take your camera with you everywhere you go. That way, when you glimpse something beautiful, it can be captured. Don’t be tempted to let it go, but pause and take the time to take that photo. You never know.

2 Be alert

Pay attention to what happens in the corner of your eye. If something you see gives you that WOW-feeling, even if it’s just like a kind of stir, it’s probably worth your time.

3 Act before you think

Hit the shutter button immediately when something happens quickly but you suspect it might be beautiful. Hey, we have digital photography now! Who cares about a few hundred wasted shots.

4 Get a compact camera

Use a compact camera for maximum reaction speed! Oh wait, that’s just because I lack money to buy one with interchangeable lenses. Skip that.

David de Leeuw5 Gain experience

Gain experience and use it. I now know the temptations of the blue hour, around sunrise or sunset. I especially love it when it becomes the red or pink or golden hour, and when the water of my Amsterdam canals becomes still and reflective. So that’s for timing. I’ve also come to appreciate the shadow and silhouette worlds that backlight can provide: shooting against the sun can produce some wonderful instant mystery. And to that end I like small diaphgrams, a lot.

6 Experiment.

Improve. After too much of the same, I start to bore my audience and myself. Look at pics by famous photographers and be inspired. I try to add more dynamics to my photos. People moving and all that.

7 Leave some room for cropping

Don’t worry about getting it exactly right immediately. Ofcourse tweaking your camera settings is essential, but when not sure about framing the picture, make sure to leave some room for cropping.

And then. Respect luck and accept it whether it decides to lend a hand or to take a nap instead. You’ll see some photos I took posted with this column. They would definitely not have been possible without sheer luck. So thank you, luck. I’ll keep on wandering around to let it find me, and hope it will find you too.

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Beazarility’s Streets of Amsterdam

Beazarility is the artist name of Lars Brehm, creative designer and mixed media (z)artist in daily life. Zart caught the attention of Beazarility just in time. Not because he will be on a long holiday, on the contrary, but because of recent successes. Brehm may soon belong to the select group of most wanted artists as he will be exposing his work at the prestigious art fair Art Basel Miami as a member of the Amsterdam Street Artists collective (ASA).  He is invited to participate in the collective as an artist because his style and motives as expressed in the diverse range of works are deeply rooted in street art. Or “the street” as he says himself.

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Street Art

Who takes a look at the work of Beazarility will immediately see that anything he creates breathes Amsterdam. The city itself is at the centre of his work an defines both form and content. The streets of Amsterdam and street life come back on a very regular basis. Hence Brehm at a certain point was labeled as “street”.  Brehm who is basically a graphic designer, was a bit surprised about the invitation by ASA at first, as he never thought he was actually making work that would fit in the category street art.

One is inclined to associate street art with graffiti art. All hand work. He tells us that he felt a bit intimidated in the beginning by the skills of his ASA colleagues. “ The other artists”, Brehm explains,”are all working with paint and spray cans, they can do a live performance,  I just draw and scan or use photo’s then in the end i put everything together by the computer. I am a digital artist. This different way of working made me a bit nervous at first”.  Brehm’s ties with the street art scene are most obviously present in his works Skull Onbenul, The Eye of the City and Amstellodami Prostitutia. Whatever label anyone wants to put on Brehm, Zart loves him anyway.

Recurrent Motives– Skulls, Red Light District and Repetition

The skull seems to be a recurrent element in Brehm’s work. When asked about the skull motive Brehm says” I find skulls very impressive for some reason. On the one hand it is a dark symbol. I like dark elements, especially in combination with colour. To contrast it. To colour the dark. Skull Onbenul is inspired by the Mexican sugar skull “. The sugar skull is part of the traditional Mexican holiday, Dia de Muertos. Day of the dead symbolises death and rebirth.

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Skull onbenul

Skull Onbenul means so much as ‘skull ignoramus’. This  is a work that has a special place in its creators heart. Brehm kick started his career as a mixed media artist with exposing a work at the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam during the Museum Night’s “50 minutes of fame” in 2007. While most artist have to work for years to get picked up by any museum, this Zartist just sent some work in for a contest and was singled out right from the start by the Stedelijk Museum. This piece was Skull Onbenul.

Red Light- an ode

The transition from one thing into another, from the old into something new, from darkness to light is obvious in Brehm’s work but very explicit in Amstellodami Prostitutia and Stranger at Red Light. The first work is an ode to Amsterdam’s most famous area, where as the second incorporates a firm critique as well. Brehm’s works expresses a nostalgic feeling on the vanishing of the oldest part of the city and at the same shows it in its contemporary form.  A clever blend of the old world and the new. The city of Amsterdam, especially the Red Light District, has been radically transformed. The Red Light District has been heavily under attack and is now reduced to a few sanitised streets. “Amstellodami Prostitutia celebrates the raw edges of the city, the dirt and the vile”, Brehm explains. “This raw side has been an inspiration ever since I was a boy. It is a pity that this part of city life slowly disappears. If one can still find it at all. When I see a movie in which people fantasise about Amsterdam, I realise at the same time how privileged we are to live here.  I try to give the old red Light and its new form a place in my work” Brehm finishes.

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…a critique

Brehm at the same time acknowledges that the famous district has a dark side as well. He is nostalgic and critical at the same time. He vision is shown in Stranger at Red Light. The image draws the eye of the viewer literally into a black hole. It mirrors the feeling a stranger in Amsterdam must have when he wonders through the night, crosses the bridge to the Red Light District and finds himself suddenly in a “black hole”.   It creates a feeling of estrangement and makes you feel lost. Brehm makes you literally go wondering around in the dark here.


Another motif we see in the work of Beazarility is repetition. Brehm’s love for repetitive patterns becomes very clear in The Eye of the City. The repetitive pattern of the houses and its round form mirror the architecture of the city that is build in a round form around the canals. “I am a graphic designer after all, i like patterns and to go wild with colour”.


Who wants to see more of Beazarility can contact Zart or have a look at Brehm’s website.  Brehm will be up to some interesting projects in the near future. He plans to launch a nostalgic t-shirt line and of course be busy with preparing the Amsterdam Street Art project. We will keep you posted!

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Amsterdam Street Art: