1. Hi Mark, Welcome to LAA. Please tell us about yourself.
Hi, thanks for having me on your wonderful blog. I am an architectural photographer from the Netherlands and have been working in music industry for a long time before this. Since the last decade or so I am making the switch, working less in audio and more and more in photography. When I was around 12 years old I had a brief period in which I was experimenting in my fathers darkroom. I took the pictures with an old Voightlander Bessa. I guess this already showed that I was interested in technology and photography. I really enjoy the technical aspect in any profession, especially since technology is moving so fast.
I have been shooting for myself since 1999. In that time I was shooting absolutely
everything and anything. This slowly moved to landscape and wildlife but to be very
honest I didn’t have the patience to wait for the right moment. In 2009 something
clicked with architecture from one moment to the next. Since then, there was no way
back. I think about my photography nonstop. I specialize in Architecture, Abstracts and
Cityscapes. It makes my heart beat faster and it makes me happy! Doing what you love is
the best thing there is. Now I do have the patience to wait for the right moment.
Sometimes I can wait as long as three hours and watch the light change to get the best
shot. I have also noticed that I learn so much faster than before. Anything, to take my
work to the next level.
Last but not least, I don’t want to be a prisoner of my own style. On occasion I shoot
other stuff as well. I was at the Grand Canyon and Horse Shoe bend last May. It would
have been foolish to not take my camera with me. I am thrilled to see that the knowledge
I gained from shooting architecture translates perfectly to nature as well.
2. What drew you to architecture as the subject of your work?
I guess it translates into lines, color and light in the most basic form. Every time I see a
skyscraper I am in total awe! Can’t describe it, it feels so unnatural. Each building or
structure has it’s own personality and that is what I am trying to capture. And just like in
every relationship, someone else might see that person totally different. At night it
becomes even better. I tend to cluster buildings like a bunch of friends having a good
time. I guess that’s why I like shooting skylines at night so much. It’s just so amazingly
cool! I even plan my holidays around it.
3. Do you have any formal training in architectural photography
I am completely self-taught with the help of online resources, looking at other
peoples work and a lot of trial and error. The first video-course I watched on
Photoshop was on VHS, go figure. Later in this interview I will share some links
on great internet teachers.
4. When did you start working as a professional photographer?
This is not so clear-cut. It gradually evolves. I have been selling my own work for
about 6 years through different channels. About three years ago I started working for
clients but these were small jobs. Gradually more work was coming in. I’ve been
working hard last year, to create an architectural portfolio to show to future clients. I
actually expect to do quite a lot this year.
5. Photography has undergone big changes over the last few years, as has the
publishing industry. In what ways has this affected your work as a photographer?
Social media is here to change things forever. I do feel it’s hard to get on “all channels”
because it does take away time I am not spending on photography. Slowly I am finding
my way there. Besides, Instagram and 500PX are starting to be a lot of fun. You are
welcome to follow me and check out my work.
6. Is it hard to earn a living in this business now, if so why?
Yes, it is! One part I just described in the previous question. The other part has to
do with how common photography has become. Everyone has a Smartphone that
takes better pictures than your point and shoot from ten years ago. Because it’s so
common a lot think it’s too expensive to hire a photographer or buy a print. Even
commercial websites tend to steal photos. “It’s on the Internet so it must be free.”
Nothing could be further from the truth; photographers are a hard working breed.
Besides shooting, there’s a lot going on, at the business side of things.
My estimate of actual shooting time is somewhere around 20%, the rest is
postproduction, social media and dealing with the business. I think my average
week is around 60/70 hours.
7. Do the Internet and increasingly high-quality mobile devices mean the death of
After my previous answer you might expect a yes, but it’s a firm no! I think the
gap between amateur and pro is getting bigger though. Look around; the quality
of some amateur photographers exceeds that of pros. Amateurs also seem more
aware than ever, that turning it into a profession might kill their love for
photography. Pro’s need to go the extra mile to stand out above the crowd. They
also need to spend time on social media if they want to get their work out there.
8. Who are your famous clients?
No famous clients in Photography, I came from the music industry and did work
with/for Armin van Buuren and Tiesto
9. What gear do you use? Is there any gear in particular that helps you in your architectural photography?
The Sony A7RII, is my main camera. I am using a Canon 5Dsr, mainly because I can use
the Camranger with this camera. The Wi-Fi of the Sony is really bad, horrible even. The
noise on the 5DsR is pretty bad that’s why it isn’t my main camera. I also use a Sony A7r
as a backup and for long exposures. The 5Dsr and 7RII give a LOT of hot-pixels when
doing long exposure shots from 30 seconds or longer.
As you can see I am held back by inferior technology. LOL. Seriously there’s nothing on
the market that does it all. I previously shot Nikon but the lack of lenses for Architectural
shooting made me switch.
I also have a Sony RX100 and it is not really for pro use. More as a sketching tool, or on
a stick. To reach places I can’t get to with a DSLR.
Lenses: go from 8 to 560mm. The most important for architectural photography are the
17 and 24mm Tilt/shift. I rarely use the tilt function but would not be able to do my
work without shifting them.
Gitzo tripods (one of them extends to 4.40 m) I use an Arca Swiss C1, also know as “the
cube”which is the Rolls Royce of tripod heads a huge timesaver and precision tool.
I also use a really Right Stuff Clamp so I can still take shots where a tripod isn’t allowed.
This thing can clamp to poles, railings, tables etcetera.
For Flash I use a Godox AD600, which is a fantastic alternative to the Profoto B1. Plus a
bunch of Yungnao Speedlites. For transportation I have a few Think Tank roller bags,
they make my life much easier also when traveling.
Don’t forget Photoshop! It’s probably my most important tool. With Photoshop I can
create what I had envisioned when taking the shot.
10. What advice would you give to photographers wanting to work in the world of architecture?
Shoot as much as you can. Look! I mean really look at other people’s shots. Look! I mean
really look at your own shots. Compare! Go back if you feel you could have done better.
There’s no shame and you can only gain by revisiting something you have shot before.
The sun is your best friend, use it! Postproduction is a skill you must have to be able to
compete in the current market. Hone your skills. There are many tutorials on youtube
which are very good and free. For postproduction you could look into “Phlearn”
and “Tutvid”, For architectural photography there are a few. You could have a look at “Rich Baum”. He’s a real-estate photographer but he explains the basics
quite well. You can take it from there.
In a few years, I might start my own series. I’ve been thinking about creating a
Lightroom/Photoshop channel on youtube.
11. What advice would you give to architects wanting to have their buildings
Call me! I don’t mind traveling to your location.
12. Who are your photographer heroes?
John Gollings! I love his thought process and he is a true master.
On the other end of the spectrum is Grossman photography in Miami for his very
clean and high-end interiors.
The odd one out is landscape photographer Elia Locardi for not living anywhere and
chasing his dream by traveling and shooting.
13. What is the favorite building you have shot over the last few years?
That’s a tough question. It’s like asking a parent, who is their favorite child.
Miami Tower is one the first that comes to mind, but I was blown away by Disney
Hall in L.A. Beautifully crafted. If you ask me tomorrow I might give you a
different answer. I love it all!
14. What are your future plans with photography?
Build more on my photography brand and start a YouTube channel. Get more
clients. Travel more, to get more skylines into my portfolio/Store. Dubai, Hong
Kong, Singapore, New York and Chicago are on my list. I will surely go back to
Miami. There is so much happening in architecture there… and hey, great beaches
Let’s take a look at more of his amazing work
Connect with Mark’s at links below: