Richard Westerhuis, Photographer, The Hague , The Netherlands

 

EWW: I am curious to know if someone was asked to make a comment about your work, what do you think they would say?

Richard: The response I frequently receive is that my pictures resemble paintings. The light that is being used gorgeous is.  As a professional viewer, it’s maybe best that you answer that question? What do you think of my work?

 

EWW: How did you get started as a photographer?

Richard:  When I was thirteen or fourteen years old, I started photographing. My father brought me into the magical world of the darkroom. He learned me how to develop and enlarge my own film negatives.

It was amazing and wonderful, to see how the pictures slowly came to life. I started to go out on the streets and photographing (parts of) people.

After highschool, I wanted to go to Art College but my parents forced me to go to a technical school, and I hated it every moment. My photo- and artmaking passion became more and more pushed to the background.

From my early twenties, I started as an entrepreneur and became successful.  But at the end of 2013, out of the blue, I suffered from a Burn-Out.  Which I think was partly caused by the fact that I lost connection with myself. (Especially with my own feelings and surroundings).  I kind of lost myself.

From 2014 till 2016 I was strongly focusing on re-inventing myself, in fact, I still am and probably will always be.   I needed to get in contact with my inner self again. Doing so I followed a haptonomy course of a year.

Haptonomy – the science of Affectivity – observes studies and explores human behavior in social interactions and effective relationships. The concept of Haptonomy is derived from the conjunction of the classic Greek term “hapsis.” Hapsis means; touch, sense, sensation or tact.  The word ‘nomos’ means law, rule, and norm.  This interest formulates my personal base, which is still visible in my art today.

In 2016 I started to do what I always wanted to do: photographing people, not hindered by experience or training, pure on feeling and intuition.

Driven by curiosity, my themes are often about the wonderful but so vulnerable human existence. I decided to focus on fine art photography and to work in series.

I finished my first serie (“Whanganui”)  at the end of 2016.  Which is already been exhibited in a solo exhibition in London. (The gallery found me on Instagram and they called me if I wanted to exhibit, after 6 weeks of doubts I decided to go for it.)  

That was a sign that I had chosen the right path and I am enjoying photographing so much every day! My mind is full of ideas and projects, that I want and will do in near future. I am always working on multiple projects. Enjoining the process, unknowing what the end result will be.

I have a goal though: My goal is to present one finished project every year.

Click on a image to enlarge it.

 

 

EWW: One of your portfolio series is black & white instead of color.  Why?  What does this achieve that color would not?  Why is this and how do you choose whether an image should be black and white or color?   

Richard: Whether a picture should be in B&W or color is depending pure on my feeling and intuition.  B&W makes it easier to focus on the subject, it leaves more to your imagination.

Colors can be distracting in some images and can take the focus away from the subject. I do portraiture and find that taking the color out of an image lets the subject speak for themselves. It’s pure, it’s honest, kind of raw and it allows you to view the true person. For the series of nude pictures, I choose B&W  because of the minimalist aesthetic.  I want the viewer to be focused on the beautiful human body.

 

EWW: Excluding subject matter, are there themes that consistently run from one work to the other such as colors, perspective, lighting, movement, style, etc.?

Richard:  My work is about feelings. When I photograph people I try to stay close to my own feelings, questions, insecurity, and doubts, that occur in my own life.

My work is mainly about the beautiful but vulnerable human being.

My main question: Is ‘being yourself’ possible, in a world dominated by artificialness and representation? What does “being yourself” mean nowadays?

How do we differ from one another? What is the Unique YOU? What makes you? Do everyone and everything look the same or is there still a difference?

With who and what are you connected? Can you be connected to the whole world?

When starts “Me” and where starts “They”  

Where ends “We” and where starts “They”?

Do clothes matter? Does Hair (style) Matter? or? what does really matters?

Who are you? Who am I?

Photographing my subjects is also searching for myself. Working with the models is a collaboration; the end result is a bit of them, combined with a bit of my own personality.

Click on image to enlarge it.

 

EWW:  Do you think it is important for photographic artists to have their own website, in addition to another gallery they appear on?

Richard:  Yes of course! The internet is very important in today’s society.

Finding and reaching out to audiences.

As borders are fading. We are becoming less dependent on our own areas, literally as figuratively speaking.

I wouldn’t say that the addition of a gallery would be less important. A photograph will never become truly alive when you see it printed. For example, a Gregory Crewdson photograph will never have that impressive feeling. When seeing it life compared to your screen at home.

But I am very happy and grateful to be able to show my work on platforms and websites like yours.

 

EWW:  What do you see, or have experienced, as the most effective way for you to market and promote you and your work?

Richard:  To be honest, I am still discovering every day.

At the moment I focus the most on making the best possible image.

I do not promote my work other than posting some of my work on Instagram and on my website. I think a gallerist/agent could do a good job for me 🙂

 

EWW:  What is your philosophy about Social Media.  Do you use social media platforms to market and promote your work?  If you do use social media platform seems, which one(s) work the best for you?

Richard:  I think Instagram works the best for me, from nothing I am now with 15,000 followers, and still counting every day.  Currently, I am building up a network on Linkedin which I think is necessary for building up a serious network of engaged professionals.

 

EWW:  Just to wrap up this interview, do you have any final thoughts about you and your work that you think would be important for others to know about?

Richard:  To me, a project is finished, the moment I have a visible product in my hands. Whenever this is a print 125x100cm from the Whanganui series or making a photo book.

Which is something I am going to focus on for the next couple months.

2017 is almost finished  😉

 

Website(s):

 

www.richardwesterhuis.com

www.instagram.com/richardwesterhuis/

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