Interview with Joel Tjintjelaar - Part 1
This is the first part of an in-depth interview with the international award-winning B&W fine art architecture and landscaper photographer Joel Tjintjelaar, who talks about photography, fine art and.. the power of sharing!
The second part can be found here.
When did you start photography? Why?
I started photography many years ago during the analog age but like many other photographers I didn't hold on to it and my interest for it gradually faded away. This is obviously due to the time-consuming and also rather expensive analog workflow. Besides that I hated it being dependent on other people for developing my photos (I couldn't afford a darkroom).
Once the first digital cameras came into the picture my interest for it renewed and after I bought my first DSLR 5 years ago I never let one day pass by without thinking about photography.
The "why" I picked up photography is hard to answer and I can only speculate. The fact is that my creative side has always been very strongly developed. I used to draw a lot in my younger years and preferably I did that in black and white and was actually very good at that. I don't know why but I was so much better at creating drawings in black and white than at making colourful paintings like the other kids did at school at that time. So I guess that was the very first indication of my pre-occupation with black and white.
Also, as a very young kid I was creating buildings: on paper, with my Lego blocks, with cardboard and with paper. I was fascinated by architecture and somehow at a very young age I had this notion that architecture was an important means of expression for a civilisation.
I wanted to be an architect but ended up studying law at law school. There are many more indications of my creative nature (e.g. at some point in time I thought I was destined to be a writer and wrote many short stories and essays - admittedly very pretentious in retrospect).
I guess with the comfort and control of digital photography - during shooting with the camera and also in the post-production in the digital darkroom - and furthermore the relative ease of getting exposure for your art work and to reach out to a potentially huge audience thanks to the Internet, I persevered with photography as an essential means of creative self-expression.
What is fine art photography? How does it express you as a person?
There's no easy answer to this, nor is there only one answer. I'll give you my point of view which is highly subjective and personal and I'm sure there will be many others to whom fine-art means something completely different and will disagree with me. I respect that and maybe they're right and I'm wrong.
Nevertheless, I think there's a big difference between photography and fine-art photography. Anyone can take a shot and call himself a photographer, but not anyone can or would want to create a fine-art photo.
I deliberately put the emphasis on create since I believe a fine-art photograph is created and not merely taken.
Let me try to come up with a definition of fine-art photography: Fine-art photography is the act of creating a photograph and externally visualising a highly personal pre-visualised internal view on the world we live in, that is driven by a pre-occupation for personal aesthetic or emotional qualities, with the intention of aligning it to the visible external end-result, by means of a camera and any other tool necessary for the realisation of the end-result. Well, I just made that up spontaneously but I believe it covers most of my ideas.
This attempt to a definition aside: I'm not so much interested in the objective reality - if such a thing as objective reality exists - I'm interested in how an individual thinks and feels and looks at this world and his environment.
A fine-art photograph has the quality to make us believe that we're looking through the eyes of the fine-art photographer and not just merely through the camera's lens.
Why did you start BWVISION.com?
As soon as I made the first B&W photos using long exposure techniques I had the urge to share the knowledge I had with the world so others could make them too. I don't know why I felt that urge but I always felt and believed that knowledge can only be qualified as power when you've shared this knowledge.
Using knowledge as a means of power is less powerful than sharing knowledge to empower others. So sharing knowledge and my experiences with photography via my tutorials was the initial objective of BWVISION.com.
After that I interviewed some world-renowned photographers to get an idea of how these fine-art photographers came to what they've created and fascinated me and of course I wanted to share this with the world as well. Just recently I've added my photos to my website for people to buy them as limited edition signed prints or open editions. I will be adding the work of other highly talented and inspiring photographers to the limited edition gallery as well.
I've planned workshops on B&W fine-art photography recently and will be organising more workshops next year that either will be done by me or by other renowned photographers in the world of B&W photography. So sharing information and knowledge was and still is my primary objective with BWVISION.com.
The second part of the interview with Joel Tjintjelaar can be found here.