Interview: Photographer Ludwig Desmet (Belgium)
Tell us something about yourself
My name is Ludwig Desmet, I am named after a famous composer, but my artistic merits never have been musical. I am 47 years old and into model/fine art photography since about 5 years.
How and when did you get into photography?
After my high school studies to become a graphic designer, I enrolled in an adult education class in photography back in 1991 but I did not finish this course at that time. Film photography in those days. I have always been into photography as an amateur, until recently when I finished a degree in digital photography. I started more intensively and on a more professional level 7 years ago.
What does photography mean to you?
It gives me a medium to express my view on the world in general, and on the female subject in particular. It is a daily occupation on various levels: I teach photography in evening classes, I do work for commercial clients, and I do a lot of personal work.
Please briefly describe your photography style for our readers.
I have never been too conscious about developing a style or delivering a specific message, but I get recognized for my working with light, especially working with available light on location. This allows me to concentrate on the interaction with the person in front of me, and to work fast from one setting to another. In general I think art has been a way to shock people for a long period now, but we are more and more often shocked by reality around us these days, so art should now try to bring beauty back in our lives.
I look for beauty in my images, but also for diversity, genuine portraits and sometimes a touch of fine erotica.
Where do you get inspiration from?
I think that the interaction with the different women I’ve met has been very inspirational. They get to influence my work a lot, since a lot depends on the character, the mood and the confidence they give me during the shoot. I do not solely shoot form, I also try to capture feeling.
Think you in advance what you want in the picture?
I seldom prepare individual shots. I do take care of a particular location, I discuss clothing styles with the model(s) in advance and it all goes very organically from there.
Studio, on location or both?
Mostly location, and I am spending a lot of time finding good locations. They give me a basic setting that I can use in my images, and often they give an extatic feeling to the models I’m photographing. In studio you need to all build it yourself and I find it more difficult to stay creative when shooting too long in the same space, although I’m making an ‘available light studio’ at this very moment.
Would you consider yourself a hobbyist or a paid professional?
Both, I do sell a fine art print from time to time, so I’m a semi-professional for my self assigned work, I’m a paid professional for some corporate clients.
What has been your most memorable session and why?
Hard to pick one as I enjoy a lot what I do in almost every one. Once however I did a session about two years ago, outside a magnificent modern building, and the clouds in the sky were like suddenly changing to become part of the entire process and of the final look in the images. I had a willing model and we made some great pictures there. I also enjoyed a recent session in one of the most tourist places in Brussels a lot, I decided in the hotel room where I met the model that I would shoot entirely on film, we had quite some attention from the public all around, the weather was fine, the mood was great. I only discovered afterwards that I did not even have a memory card in my digital camera.
What has been the biggest source of inspiration in your work?
Jean-Loup Sieff is a great inspiration for me, for many years. Not only for his way of depicting women, but also for his diversity in subjects (Fashion, nudes, landscape, …) I also love the work of late Mark Lagrange a lot, and the great scene building and story telling in the images of Radoslaw Pujan.
Nikon or Canon? Favorite lens?
I’d rather not discuss gear. I’ve been using Canon since the age of 16, but rather by chance than by choice. I love the Sigma 50mm Art lens, but also the Canon 135 f2.0. I have a Fuji x100t for reportage. I shoot film with a 60 year old Rolleiflex and a Yashica 635, so gear is not so important to me. Analog shooting has helped me composing shots better, pay more attention to details before pressing the shutter. I also love the square format it gives me. It releases me from the hard decision to shoot horizontal or vertical. ;-)
What is one piece of advice you would like to offer a new photographer looking to start their own business?
I’m rather not very good at running my own business, so I’m not really the right person to give advice in that specific matter I think. The most important advice that I could give is ‘Listen to others who might know more than you do, but do your own thing’. An additional one in working with people: ‘Show respect for your subject’.
What do you think of our new magazine?
I think it is a great platform for the modeling/photography community. I would love to see it printed on high quality paper one day.
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