How do you find interesting locations?
Talk to locals if you're new to a place, but it’s even better to do your homework before. I try to scout locations online. I spent hours and hours on Google Earth, Google Maps and scan social media, searching for places that are different. And there are some amazing photographers out there that are such an inspiration to me. I follow a lot of previous Red Bull Illume photographers that create amazing content.
Have you already submitted to Red Bull Illume?
Oh yes! I already did! Due to COVID travelling was limited but I think I created some very cool shots here in the Netherlands. I made somebody surf in half frozen icy water and the results are pretty stunning. I’m really looking forward to seeing all the great images from the Image Quest 2021.
What’s important to consider when submitting?
Believe in your own work. To be honest, the image I submitted for the Image Quest 2016 was not my best one. It was taken during a sandstorm and I was at the start of my photography career. I should have gone back when conditions were better, but that's just the way it is. To me, the location and story behind an image is what makes it interesting. I think locations are very important and need to stand out.
What impact did Red Bull Illume have on your career?
For me the nomination was a little gift from heaven. It put my work on the map and somehow it was a recognition that my work as a photographer was of a good quality. It really helped me to grow as a photographer and till this day it makes me realise to keep pushing to come up with crazy projects.
What’s the story of your 2019 image?
The photo of the two kitesurfers was taken inside a volcano on one of the islands of Cape Verde. I was there for a shoot for a kitesurf brand and was talking to Elvis Nunes. He was a local team rider of the kite brand and I asked him what his dream was if he could choose the destination. To my surprise he joked that he wanted to go and surf “there”, while pointing his finger to the volcano in the background. He was not really serious, but I straightaway knew that it was going to be special. That same day I ran up the volcano and the moment I looked over the edge, I knew this is what I wanted to do; make a series of kitesurfers surfing in strange and bizarre lakes, rivers and oceans.
It took about four days to negotiate with the owners of the saltmine inside the volcano to get permission to kite inside the volcano crater. The wind inside the crater was obviously very challenging and every time one of the guys crashed, I could hear them scream. The water was very shallow and under the surface were these sharp salt crystals. They only wore shorts and you can imagine how painful it is to scratch your legs open in highly concentrated saltwater. But it was totally worth it.
How do you present well-known places in a new and interesting way?
I live in the Netherlands and it's a pretty small place and hardly has any undiscovered places so I challenged myself to take photos of the Netherlands that people may not have seen before. I tried to combine extreme sports with a natural surrounding and it made me realize that you don't need to travel far to find little gems.