How to photograph like Bastiaan Woudt?
Many of you probably already know Bastiaan Woudt - a Dutch photographer, master of black and white portraiture and mystic landscape photography. His images are elegant, minimal and very sleek. Independently if he is photographing a fashion campaign in his studio or a still life outside somewhere in Morocco.
Bastiaan Woudt began his journey into photography by learning techniques from his favourite photography masters Irving Penn and Richard Avedon and developed his unique style by experimenting with classical studies and adding to these images a modern twist.
Despite his inspiration with vintage photography, antique sculptures and classical postures and lighting, Woudt by far is a modern photographer. Because he isn't just inspired by the past, but in his work, the past inspiration intervenes with modern editing techniques. Bastiaan Woudt manages to put hope and melancholy, purity and ambiguity, unity and plurality to dance with each other in one single frame. How does he do it?
He grasps inspiration but keeps his mind clean
Bastiaan is very open to all sources of inspiration: movies, photography, paintings, literary novels, poetry... In his work, you'll find a hint of surrealism from Dalí and Magritte, but also the beauty of imperfection inspired by 50s, 60s and 70s photography. You can notice the motives of László Moholy-Nagy photograms and Man Ray's choice of subjects. And of course, Duchamp's blurring of boundaries between irony and sincerity. With charcoal tones and elegant compositions, his photography feels like stepping into both a modern painting and an abstract photogram. Bastiaan Woudt honours this photography while exploring how modern in-camera methods and post-production can elevate the style of today. On the other hand, Woudt doesn't look at too many images because this, daily, can pollute your mind and clutter your artistic vision. Therefore, be open to inspiration but beware of the clutter.
He works intuitively
Bastiaan Woudt uses his gut feeling to guide the process. You’ll rarely find mood boards in his studio or detailed shooting lists. He stumbles on his subjects by letting people and places catch his eye. And this freedom helps him to be more flexible and playful which always brings great results.
He found his voice
Bastiaan chose to work only in the monochrome palette, as already mentioned above - inspired by the masters from the past. He slowly built the reputation of a great portraitist who captures the essence of the human soul and depicts raw and honest feelings in minimal and elegant details in black and white. If you are an emerging photographer who is struggling to find your signature style, remember - it is the key to your successful photographic career.
He is active on social media
Don't undermine social media. It is one of the most important and powerful tools that can promote your photography and take it to a different level. Bastiaan Woudt knows about this perfectly and he uses social media like Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook and LinkedIn to his benefit. He is very active with his posts, sharing not only his final results but the general process of the photoshoots and behind-the-scenes details. Indeed, to have a well-curated Instagram account is as important as having a well-designed website.
He maintains a consistent style
Bastiaan Woudt's forte is portrait photography, but he is also passionate about depicting landscapes and beautiful still lifes and he nails fashion editorials too. He does everything equally well in a very distinct and consistent style. No matter what Bastiaan is portraying and if the photo is done with the camera or with the phone, his high contrasted monogram palette strikes as his powerful signature. Therefore, there is no reason to make your commercial work look different from your personal projects. Your style must remain unchanging.
He photographs things he is passionate about
Bastiaan loves meeting people and spending time talking to someone who is willing to share with him their story. He is also passionate about travelling and he loves a good challenge. His project "Peak" depicts perfectly his desire to be challenged to conquer the mountains of Nepal and his curiosity to discover more about rich Nepali culture. The photographer chose to go to Nepal driven by his passions. The same when Woudt photographs people in his studio or landscapes of Morocco, the country that inspired him deeply. His advice to everyone who is on the photographic path right now is to follow this inner voice that is telling you to photograph flowers or your family or your dog or fashion models, you name it. It has to be your pleasure to photograph the deliberate subject. And when it is the passion that you follow, success will follow right after.
He works with people that inspire him
There is another thing apart from photographing things that you are passionate about is - to work with people you feel comfortable with. For years already Bastiaan has had a strong collaboration with his muse Tinotenda. The collaboration is so powerful that apart from having several portraits of Tino, Woudt also published a book named after the model that was published in 2020 by Bastiaan's own publishing house 1605 Publishers. When you work with people you like, you feel comfortable and relaxed and this will result in better work. You see other photographers and filmmakers doing the same. For instance, Peter Lindbergh always worked with Naomi Campbell and Claudia Schiffer and Kate Moss and Pedro Almodóvar has always shown his preference for Penélope Cruz as the main character of his legendary films.
He found a publishing house that speaks to him
Apart from being a talented photographer, Bastiaan is also a gifted entrepreneur. In 2020, he opened his own publishing house - 1605 Publishers where now he publishes his own books and realises dreams of having the book published for other artists. "It was difficult for me to find a match with a publishing house, so I thought maybe I should start my own" - Bastiaan reveals. It is very important to trust people who will publish your book and be extremely transparent with them about anything that is on your mind. Your work is your representation of yourself and who will represent it for you is extremely important. Don't be shy to be picky with publishing houses, galleries, or agencies who are willing to show your work. The first impression of your work is still the one that matters the most.