Kristof Claeys, BELGIUM. Member of the directory Inspiration Photographers. Has a gallery with beautiful photos awarded

”Growing up in Belgium, I dreamt of being a photographer as a kid but it came to the background as youngster. At the age of 27, I decided to take photography lesson and before I knew it I had an own photography business as a second job. I took every assignment I could get to buy myself the gear I wanted. I did maternity, newborn, family,… everything except wedding. But weekly I had the same kind of assingments I really didn’t like to do with children who didn’t listen, cried, etc… So I was on the edge of having a little burn-out in my business. So I decided to step out of my comfort zone and followed an intense workshop on wedding photography with Damon Pijlman in Italy. This was the best investment I ever did! Damon made me realise what was inside me. So when I got back home, it was tabula rasa. Cleared my website and started all over again from scratch; with the focus on wedding photography. That was almost 2 years ago. I worked hard ever since. Now I get assignments from over the country, got (inter)national wedding awards but most of all happy clients!”

How did you get into photography?
As a kid in the 80’s and 90’s, I allways took pictures wherever I went. Growing up as a teenager I got busy playing soccer, school, music,… and photography became on the background. Untill 2006, I made an epic journey with an old Citroen 2CV. I did a trans-Sahara with the oldtimer. Started in Brussels to Genua (Italy), through Tunisia and the Libyan desert, in to Niger and Burkina Faso to finally end on the Atlantic Ocean in Benin. I met the most photogenic people, incredible views and nature, the most beautifull light. But with a cheap camera and no knowledge on photography. When I got back in Belgium, I immediately started learning photography in a school. And now I’m writing an interview for Brasil; never thought this would be possible in 2006…

In your opinion, what are the most important components for a good photography?
Layers in the picture, a good moment and a good composition

What is the future of photography?
Several years ago, I think good photography wasn’t important anymore here in Belgium. Journalists had to take pictures by them selves because there was no budget anymore to bring a photographer, good camera’s became more affordable for everybody (so there was allways an uncle who could take pictures at a wedding), with a smartphone everybody suddenly had a camera in his pocket,… Thank God people came to sense!! Now they realise that the pictures by uncle Bob aren’t that good on a wedding and spend more money on a good photographer in their wedding budget, newspapers found out that journalists are good in writing stories instead of photographing them,… Although most people have a good camera in their pockets these days, they will happily spend money on a good photographer to have their pictures taken. Photography is booming again and hopefully it stays that way!

How do you deal with criticism?
I have no problem with criticism or constructive feedback. If everybody allways told you ‘Oh that’s nice’ or ‘beautifull as allways’, you will allways be stuck in the same pattern. You learn the most from criticism on your work, so it inspires you to do better or be creative in another way. I’m in a FB-group at this moment with 4 other wedding photographers where we share and criticise each other work.

Would you like to photograph with another photographer/videomaker (anywhere in the world) that you admire? If so, who would that be?
In wedding photogrphy I’d rather work on my own, so I can mind my own business. But if I have the opportunity to work with Lanny/Erika Mann, Victor Lax or Damon Pijlman, I wouldn’t hesitate 🙂 But if I could just walk one day next to James Nachtwey or Anton Corbijn to see them at work; that would be a dream come true…

Do you do any type of work other than photography or think of doing it?
I would love to do more video. I am not very good at it. I want to improve and do it better.

Who inspire you in your daily living and who inspire you in your career? Why?
At this moment I do photography as a second job (for about 6 years now). But due to the many photography assingments, it’s extremely difficult to keep combining it at this moment. So I’m thinking of working as a self-employeed photographer in 2018!

What kind of equipment do you currently use for work?
In my bag I have 1 Canon 5D mark 4 and 2 Canon 5D mark 2, a 35mm, a 50mm, a 24-70mm and a 70-200mm, 2 flashes and some Magmod. I love to be als light as possible so I have a Holdfast Moneymaker strap belt with 2 camera’s (one with a 35mm and one with 24/70). 90% of the time I don’t use flash, only for getting loose on the dance floor!

What kind of resources do you prefer to use to learn new techniques and keep yourself updated in this career? For example: seminars, workshops, online courses, books?
No matter how much awards you have won or how good you think you are, you can allways learn from another photographer who you admire. So I follow each year 1 or 2 workshops. I’ve done workshops in Belgium, Holland and Italy. Next up; Foundation Workshop in Texas (USA)

What do you try to transmit to others with your photos?
I like to keep it my pictures as simple as possible. No fancy lightning techniques with 4 flashes or carrying around heaps of bokeh-shizzle. Emotion matters. A moment matters. Real love between 2 people. Simplicity rocks; for me anyway!

What hobbies do you have?
Although we are the oldest team in the league and our ‘enemies’ for some reason are getting younger, I weekly play a game of indoor soccer with my friends. We are no Falcao’s, but we have our moments once in a while 🙂

if you could any place in the world to live, where would it be?
Somewhere in Italy. La dolce vita!!

Do you have a dream come true?
One dream to have a lovely family has allready come true. I did my trans-Sahara but I love to climb El Macchu Picchu one day or stay with an indigenous tribe somewhere in the Amazon. Now I dream to earn a living with my photography and a destination wedding now and then. Then I can definitely say I’m a happy camper!

According to you, what are the things that contributed for you to get to where you are today?
Learn as much as possible from other colleagues by workshops, seminars,… Work hard and don’t be afraid to fail (that only makes you do better). Create a group (FB,…) with some colleagues where you can share and criticise your work. Believe in yourself and work out your vision on photography. But most of all, I could never been where I’m today without my wife. She let’s me develop in my photography in any way and she takes care for our 2 children when I’m gone again for a photoshoot, workshop, wedding,… I can never thank her enough…

If you could send a message to yourself 5 years ago, what would you say?
Believe in yourself, work hard and go all the way reach your goals! Working hard was never a problem; I wish I realised the 2 other things 5 years ago. But hey, better late than never!

Leave a message to the world here about any subject.
Humanity has difficult times these days; ISIS, terror attacks, North-Korea and many, many more sadly. So I would like to end with an old Chinese aphorism. Only when a mosquito lands on your testicals, you realise that violence is never a solution.

Check out some of David Murray’s work.

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