I’m pleased to introduce our very first interviewee – member GK Fotografie! Gerard has also submitted several of his favorite photos with us, as well as commenting on why they are his faves. Please enjoy them along with the interview. Let's get started! "I find this Dutch tilt - incorrect corruption of the word Deutsch, meaning German - a nice example, because it's not immediately recognized as such." Gerard - first off, thanks so much for participating in our new feature! Why don’t we start with your general background in photography. A bit of a two-part question here: How did you become interested in photography? When did you know you were taking it seriously? I still remember what my first snapshot was and on what occasion I took it! I think I was nine years old at the time, and I'd just received my father's Agfa Click II, who had bought a new camera. I remember being fascinated by the yellow filter that could be slid in front of the lens and would give very beautiful clouds in a black&white photo. I didn't understand why, but it fascinated me enormously! I was allowed to put a roll of film in my camera on regular trips by the family to the port city of Rotterdam, for example and afterwards my father had the black&white film developed and printed. When I started more seriously with my own SLR camera in 1967 and, a year later, my own dark room built by my brother in a very small hall closet at home, I was particularly interested in street photography, old buildings, junkyards, people in their daily routine, merchants in the market, landscapes, close ups and longtime exposures. But also, actually I liked it even more, experimenting with IR film or with high-sensitivity film, developing black&white film in a paper developer to get an extremely strong grain, experimenting with graphic films, combine multiple (film) negs in color, combine black&white negs with color negs, or print color-slides on color paper, etc. I think it must have something to do with my genes, otherwise I've no idea, because from childhood I did very strange things with drawing, painting, creating objects in clay, wood and metal, too. I've always found "normal" very monotonous. From a young age I became very involved in drawing etc. and although I seamlessly added photography as a hobby, I always liked the idea of going to Art College and become an artist. It turned out a bit differently, because I was too young to go straight into Art College. After some years of working and traveling, I finally decided not to go to Art College but to study photography, because I saw more opportunities for myself in this direction. I'm graduated as a photographer, also graduated as a designer/decorator and (probably a bit unusual) since 1990 I'm a certified jeweler. I was unaware of your certification as a jeweler - so interesting! In addition to this, and getting out to shoot, do you have other hobbies? What do you like to do for fun and adventure? Hobbies? My work has always been my biggest hobby, besides photography I've always done a lot of design work (from shop interiors and furniture to jewelry and objects) and actually I still make a lot of designs, but no longer commercially and unfortunately doing it myself is becoming more and more difficult, although I keep trying. By the way, what I really like is creative photo-editing and, besides that, I still have two large-scale plans in the field of photography. I worked on it all through 2020 and have already enjoyed it a lot, but I simply can't say anything about these projects yet. Furthermore, I've plans to do more with film again and, more precisely, to start making large format prints myself in black&white. My doctors want me to walk outside for at least one hour every day, which is good for my heart and often I bring my camera and get nice pictures. I should exercise more, but I like it the way it goes. Without putting in any effort, just slightly adjusted my eating and drinking pattern (well, I still eat steak, fries, chips etc.) I lost more than 18 kilos in 2 years! The only downside is the fact that I'd have to buy a whole new wardrobe. "An idea a la Magritte (Belgian artist), to this day there are people who do not fully understand that it's simply a mirrored image." Tell us about your current gear set up. Do you have a favorite kit you turn to, or do you like to mix things up? Also – how often are you able to get out and shoot? It may sound a bit strange, but I'm not really that much interested in equipment, I'm not a person who runs straight to a store when a new camera model or a new version of a lens is released, probably as a former commercial photographer I've a different view, because photo equipment has always been more or less just a bunch of tools to carry out assignments. I also have this with photos, when a photo appeals to me it does not suddenly become less, because the photo was taken with an iPhone, the same also applies to lesser photos, they do not suddenly become fantastic pictures only because they are taken with a Leica or Hasselblad. My gear is nothing special. Fuji X-E1 with some Fuji lenses, a Meike 6.5mm circular fish-eye and a handful of older manual lenses, mainly Olympus Zuiko lenses that I also use with a Olympus OM10 film camera. In addition, I've a huge amount of filters, 2 camera tripods (Manfrotto, Gitzo) and a simple ring flashlight. Come to think of it, I used almost nothing else last year than the Fuji 18-55mm and Meike 6.5mm circular fish-eye lens. Apparently I don't need more stuff these days! What I really regret in this digital era, with so much ingenuity, is the fact that Fuji doesn't have a circular fish eye lens - or any extreme prime wide angle lenses, for that matter. Although I can understand why, I do believe they are missing an opportunity. In 2021 I've to take some steps, because both of my X-E1 cameras are in need of replacement. If I'm honest, my intention was to buy the previously announced new Fuji X-E4 in 2020, because I'm quite devoted to this kind of camera type. However, in mid-2020 there were reports Fuji would cease production of X-E models altogether, but since the end of 2020 there has been speculations once again about a new X-E4 to be introduced in the first quarter of 2021. We'll see what really is going to happen! I definitely want to stay with Fuji, but for a few months I've been playing with a Canon M50. My wife bought it and she isn't happy with the way this camera operates, so she gave me this M50 as a present. Perhaps I'll switch to Canon lenses, because EF lenses can be used on this M50 model and also with Fuji cameras with adapters (retaining AF and all other settings), a nice issue to worry about in 2021. Traveling has been very difficult due to corona in recent months. I always try to bring a camera with me with only one lens, or at least never more than two lenses and without a tripod, so preferably as little ballast as possible and I've my reasons for this. If I'm going with a specific intention, such as taking IR photos, I'll take my Manfrotto tripod with me. Nevertheless, my wife and I try to go out 3 to 4 times a week, and often a bit more in summer, with an overnight stay in a hotel when it's convenient. "The effect of light and dark in the bars of the banister in the stairwell really appeals to me." Your B&W Challenges at TPF are a favorite with our members! This is a two-part question: How do you get inspired to pick your Challenge topics? Also - what makes B&W photography special to you? To be honest, I must admit I found a number of themes through a discontinued Dutch photo forum, and also 2 members of the TPF forum provided some additional themes in 2020. But finally, coming up with new themes turned out to be much easier than I thought. A bit of looking around can easily yield 10 themes (take something like a leaf and from this point you can create themes such as lines, structure, macro/close-up, wood, wind, rain, flat objects, trees, shadows, etc.). Secondly, there are enough standard themes (winter, summer, landscape, cityscape, snow etc.) and there's a range of technology-based themes, such as backlighting - high key - low key - long time exposure - double exposures..... Until now I came up with enough new themes to complete at least 2 to 3 years of B&W Challenges. Everyone of my age started (as a teenager) with black&white photography, everyone who developed and printed films themselves probably feels the same as what I feel and you can't explain this feeling to people who only started photography with a digital camera or nowadays with a phone. Black&white photography is an ideal way to learn and discover about composition, shape and structures, and black&white is ultimately a graphical representation of reality. Why not put your digital camera on "in camera b&w conversion" and experience what the world looks like with RGB colors converted into shades of gray? I find it really incomprehensible that people actually only use the black&white conversion to supposedly save failed color photos, which is a shame. Perhaps this is one of the reasons why I started the B&W Challenge, to make people more aware and enthusiastic about black&white photography, to let them experience that black&white is more than just converting color photos! In addition, the challenge is a great outlet for everyone who works with film and that's why the B&W Challenge is back at the pace of 2 weeks, because in two weeks there's simply more time to experiment and approach a theme from multiple creative sides, which has been the objective of the B&W Challenge from the beginning. [Note: And now, Gerard is given the chance for a shameless plug for the B&W Challenge!] I don't want to appear too eager, but there really could be a few more participants, so I'd like to say to all TPF members: feel free to explore the world of black&white photography and join the B&W Challenge! [/shameless plug] "As far as I recall, winning photo in the TPF photo challenge, it's a combination of different layers, negative and positive images and color effects." What is your favorite time of day to shoot? How come? As long as it's not on a sunny day in between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m., I don't really care. Sometimes I shoot in the morning, most of the time in the afternoon. Actually, I prefer to look at what the weather will be like. If there is a thick fog in the morning then it's grandiose to walk very early in a dead-silent forest or in a fishing harbor, between the boats, barrels with fish, fishing nets, etc. Years ago, I went on my bike in our neighborhood to photograph cows in the pasture at 4 - 5 o'clock in the morning - fantastic when you see those animals standing and lying close together with the vapor that comes from their bodies and the low-hanging fog around them! Also, great opportunities when it rains in the afternoon in the busy streets of a large city with many people, umbrellas and cars that (on purpose) drive through puddles, you'll get perfect photo moments. But, it's true, I'm not every day an early bird, and going out at night to photograph the moon isn't really going to happen anytime soon, I regret to say. "The zoom effect actually seems to remind people how they had to blow against the seed bulb." Is there a place in the world that you have not yet visited that you would love to spend time in and shoot? Where is it – and why this place? Ha, you should check out my bucket list! The place that fascinates me very much and like to travel around on foot is the Japanese island of Yakushima preferably with a MF/LF film camera (how strange, suddenly I'm thinking of the old, beautiful Sinar Handy, Dutch Cambo Wide series and Linhof 617). Not only because I've become a huge fan of trees since 2 years, but also for the idea of tranquility. I'm definitely not a nature photographer and I never hide in the bushes for hours to photograph birds, but I do think this island is a location where I can fully identify myself both spiritually and in terms of photography, with 7000 year old trees, 2000 meter high mountains and hardly any inhabitants or busy tourists ruining everything. One should get an enormous Zen feeling. "I like to create these kinds of images and I can work on them for many hours, the distortion of the glass is made with a plug-in." What has been your most rewarding experience? This could be photography related, but doesn’t have to be. Can you share it with us? There are a few things, but if I really have to mention something very special to me then it's the nomination I received in 1983 at the (Dutch) National Diamant Concours with the design of a brooch - my first jewelry design ever! My wife made this piece of jewelry at the time, and a well-known Amsterdam diamond merchant sponsored the diamonds. This nomination offered many new opportunities for my wife and me in the 1980s and 1990s, and has also been the reason for me to follow evening classes in my scarce free hours and become a certified jeweler in 1990 - but that's a completely different story. "After a long time, I (finally) started infrared photography again in 2020, my first try-out." Gerard, thanks so much for taking the time to chat with us and sharing some of your favorite photos! You do beautiful work. This completes the interview part of our spotlight - but as mentioned, our members are welcomed and encouraged to ask Gerard more questions or comment as wish. Thanks to Gerard and to everyone for participating! "I'm completely crushed by the color of this shrubbery, the color has not been changed by me."