Interview with Fine Art Landscape photographer Leon Leijdekkers

Interview with Fine Art Landscape photographer Leon Leijdekkers


Born 1962, Zierikzee, The Netherlands. In my undoubtedly colourful memory, I mainly spent my youth wandering through nature on the beautiful island Schouwen-Duiveland. It’s then that I started taking pictures and got my own darkroom. My professional career as a classical musician and later in orchestra management forced me to move and live elsewhere and at the same time I lost my connection with photography, albeit not entirely. I recently discovered the world of digital photography and was very inspired by this new form. I attended masterclasses in Yorkshire, England with the great photographer Martin Henson. Later I specialised in Long Exposure photography with Jonathan Chritchley in France, the Basque country. And recently I joined Bill Schwab on a tour to the Faroe Islands, an inspiring journey with one of the truly great masters of modern photography. I owe these men a great deal of gratitude and so many others for inspiring me. But most inspiration, now and back then in my younger years derives from the works of Beethoven, Schubert, Shostakovitch, Webern and Ravel, etc. Without their music this world would be a much, much darker place.

© Leon Leijdekkers

© Leon Leijdekkers

1. How and when did you become interested in photography?

Already as a young man, so from very early on in life, I loved wandering thru nature and then drawing and later photographing my impressions. I used 6×6 film back then and developed and printed my own images, of course all in black and white as printing colour photographs in your homemade dark room was unaffordable in those days.
Very much later I switched to digital but preserved the square format and black and white from my starting period. I did however change my technique to mainly long exposure images. Originally I did this because I felt the necessity to slow myself down. Digital shooting initially tempted me to “just snap around” so to say, because now with digital no film was waisted doing this obviously.
So I got a few Neutral Density filters and started considering every shot with much more care again. Aspects like composition, balance of volumes, leading lines etc. thus became of key importance for me yet again. I did get very addicted to this technique and love the expressive possibilities it provides me.

2. Is there any artist/photographer who inspired your art?

Nowadays there are very many. Back in my youth there was no internet yet of course and I mainly looked for inspiration in the works of painters like van Ruysdael, Caravaggio, Vermeer or the old flemish masters on which subject I often borrowed books from our local library.
Later on I was and am stunned by the images of photographer Alain Etchepare, certainly his early work on the Basque country, The Cathares and Biarritz. But it’s to vast a list to mention all my favourite photographers that inspire me.

3. Why do you work  in black and white rather than colour?

I can’t see (visualise) the image I want to make in colour, that may sound a bit weird but it’s true. The colour subtracts a lot of expressiveness form the photograph for me. Therefore I don’t think I have ever produced a colour image.

4. How much preparation do you put into taking a photograph/series of photographs?

I shoot mainly seascapes and when close by, for example in the Netherlands, I tent to visit the scene I want to shoot many times. I have visited and photographed the “Zeelandbrug”  uncountable times, but then I was born very close to it too.
When going abroad I do a lot of research beforehand. I use google earth or other photographers’ work to find scenes, this way I found for example the “Church Rock” and “Elegug Stacks”  in Pembrokeshire, Wales.
Weather conditions are often a spoiling factor for the atmosphere I aim for in my photographs, but I have learned to live with that and try to make the best of it.

I do already have quite a good idea in my mind what I would like the final image to look like when I’m at the scene shooting. So when editing later on in Photoshop I try to just let my hands do the editing work and let my brain interfere as minimal as possible. When in “the flow” so to say, the image seems to create itself that way. Listening to my favourite music during this process helps me enormously.

5. Where is your photography going? What projects would you like to accomplish?

I try to widen my horizon all the time. I do try shooting with Lens Baby, try other formats than square, experiment with non long exposure images. It’s very hard for me to find the maximum of expression in my images that I aim for when using another technique than long exposure/square however.
So this is a bumpy road and probably a very long one.

Website: www.monochromejourneys.com

© Leon Leijdekkers

© Leon Leijdekkers

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© Leon Leijdekkers

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© Leon Leijdekkers


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