The evolution of the photographer happens when the work becomes more than a photo; it’s when time, place, subject, color, and significance collide to give an emotional connection to the work itself. Piet Visser, a well-traveled landscape photographer, experienced this evolution when he went from being a technical photographer into an artistic endeavor, making photographs that evoke a stormy, atmospheric world with a somber ambience.
From waterfalls in Iceland to the icy shores of Massachusetts, Piet has found a style and creative process of his own to incorporate into his dreary landscapes.
“I don’t like creative constraint,” Visser says. “If everyone followed guidelines, photography would be very boring. Some photographs look better in black and white, and others in color. Of my own work, the ones I like best are dark, barren, and void of people. There are times that that is not possible without exposing for a very long time, so I have photographs with ghosts of people in them, and I quite liked the effect.”
Piet’s approach to photography is chasing the light, studying weather forecasts, tidal information, sunrises and sunsets, and scouting his locations meticulously via Google Earth before embarking on his trips.
He has a very methodical approach to his photography and says he spends more time looking for suitable locations than actually shooting. But sometimes when he gets there, his plan changes because of bad weather or lighting, or sometimes he just finds a better subject to explore.
“The light is what makes the shot. It does what it does, when it does. So capture what you can. I get more excited when I download the pictures, especially if a few of them exceed my expectations. Each photograph has a life of its own,” Visser says.
Knowing the importance of light and having a plan is his modus operandi, making him very cognizant of his surroundings. He knows that each moment that passes could mean a missed opportunity. Although he is very disciplined in his photographic practice, he also loves to absorb the beauty he sees when he’s about to make a photograph. To him, coming home with one or two good images means a good day.
“There is a certain joy that one feels when looking through the viewfinder and seeing something beautiful, but if you spend too much time dwelling on it, it will be gone,” he says. “More thought goes in to setting up, and making sure that all the settings are the way that I want them. Then I shoot a couple of frames, and adjust if necessary.The back of the camera doesn’t hold a candle to a computer screen for making judgments about the quality of a photograph. If it looks good on the computer screen, thats the time to pat yourself on the back.”
Piet comes from a European family, with a Dutch father and Norwegian mother, and has lived all over the world from Ireland, Norway, Uruguay, Andorra, to currently living in Massachusetts, where he is semi-retired from selling real estate investments, and lives with his wife and children.
He got his start at the age of 10 shooting holiday pictures with his family in Southern Spain with a 35mm with manual focusing lens from his father, and his mother’s point-and-shoot. Later he graduated to a higher echelon of camera with an East German SLR with a 50mm and 200mm lenses.
The inspiration that made him want to be a photographer in the first place was what he nicknamed ‘Camera Porn’, a.k.a, National Geographic magazines. With years worth of issues he became drawn to the beautiful imagery from all around the world, which cemented his desire to shoot. He learned a lot about composition when he was young, and prescribed to a strict interpretation of technical photography, instead of freeing himself to bend the rules of composition and exposure.
“When I was younger, I was a bit obsessive about symmetry. Now, not so much. I try not to overthink it (symmetry), and I just look for things that catch my eye. Some of them are worth sharing, many are not. I keep shooting, and as I do, my results improve. Thats another advantage of digital over film. The chip on my camera can hold 800 RAW images, and if I don’t like them, I can delete. With a 36 picture roll, one tends to be more conservative about when you take a photograph,” Visser says.
From camera porn to creating compelling work, Piet’s foundations of planning and technical information has helped him learn photography, but it also helped him become an artist. The creative eye develops when you have all the technical information down, and for Piet, and many others, it’s a stepping stone to go beyond the basics to find one’s style.
What Lies Beyond
Piet knows his photographic eye isn’t fully developed yet, but knows photography is an important part to his life which keeps him creatively satisfied. He sees that photography is more than a business now; instead he is following his artistic vocation.
“Patience is something I could use more of. I usually don’t wait. I compose and shoot a few shots, then I might move around a bit, tweak the camera a bit, shoot a few more, and when I’m done, I move on. I’m not sure coincidence is the right word, but I go out when I think the light is compelling. When I’m traveling, I don’t have the luxury of waiting a long time for conditions to be optimal, I take my shots and move on,” he says.
Piet has no agenda, his only desire is to share his creations with others.
For more information on Piet Visser visit his website, www.pietvisser.com. He utilizes social media to show his work on Google+, and is growing a following of people that enjoy his landscapes.
What’s in Piet’s Kit?
AF-S NIKKOR 16-35mm f/4G ED VR
AF-S NIKKOR 24-70mm f/2.8G ED
Nikon SB910 flash