Gee Hurkmans (1952) is a self-taught landscape photographer based in The Netherlands. His work is best described as fine art minimalism. Main subjects are seascapes and desolate landscapes. In his style of photography, minimalism is “the art of less”, of leaving out what can be left out, of negative space, of austere simplicity, of a focus on one object or a small number of objects. The image is self-referring, it does not refer to anything, it is what it is, nothing else. It does not represent reality, rather it is his recreation of the mood felt when shooting the photograph. It is the creative interpretation as an artist. And that is what makes it fine art: the use of photography as a medium for creative expression.
How and when did you become interested in photography?
I had my first camera when I was 14 years old and already then roamed the streets looking for interesting subjects. I remember joining a group of hunters for a day to shoot my first series, and spent entire days in my own dark room. I can still smell the chemicals. I use many of the dark room techniques in my post processing.
Is there any artist/photographer who inspired your art?
Certainly, and more than one. To name just two: Michael Kenna has been a great inspiration, and I learned a lot from my fellow countryman Joel Tjintjelaar, especially his techniques to create depth.
Why do you work in black and white rather than colour?
My photographs are not meant to represent reality. Black and white is a first – and important – step away from reality. In my view, in my style of photography, colour would only distract from the main subject. Black and white allows me give the composition more focus and to emphasize forms, lines, shades, structures in a way that that I could not in a colour image.
How much preparation do you put into taking a photograph/series of photographs?
I research locations – a series of locations – before I set off, using Google Maps, streetview, TPE, and photo sites such as 500px. I have the luxury of a campervan so I can sleep where I shoot if necessary. I transfer all these locations to my GPS so that I can spend all the time at a location instead of looking for it.
I use long exposure techniques with a set of grads and nd-filters. Before setting up my gear I need to get the feeling of the place: just strolling around, taking in the environment. This may take a lot longer than the actual shooting. My post processing is aimed at refining and reliving that feeling, that mood.
Where is your photography going? What projects would you like to accomplish?
I think my photography will develop into a more austere minimal style. I am planning to concentrate more on a series. For this Winter that will be a series of polder landscapes (of which we have plenty in my country).