We took note of Damiane’s work quite a while back as one of those creatives who takes advantage of Instagram excellently. Expect vintage-looking, minimalist and quirky photos that entice you to keep on scrolling. This interview tells his story and more specifically, the story of how he captures a certain recurring model, his wife, Michelle.
Carefree and simplistic. In his earlier days, Damiane enjoyed capturing love in its simplest form. (Canon 50D & 16-35mm lens)
© Damiane Van Reenen
Please tell us about your photographic journey?
As a young boy, I was fascinated by these strange black objects that would allow me to take a photo. My mom had a passion for documenting our family and I think that rubbed off on me.
Growing up, I lost my enthusiasm for photography for a while, but fast-forward to 2010 I went out and bought my first DSLR: a Canon 50D with a kit lens. I started off taking photos of friends’ birthday parties and later, couple shoots, matric farewell functions and so forth.
Soon afterwards, I ventured into shooting my first music video and quit my job to join a friend’s photography and videography business. During this time Instagram really took off and it played a massive roll in shaping my photographic style. It also challenged my “approach” and my whole perception of photography.
I’m thankful for the way in which technology has allowed us to take above average photographs using our phones. Someone once told me that “the best camera is the one you have with you” and that’s why I use my phone so much ― I’m able to immediately see the photo I’ve taken and actually edit it a bit.
Your wife features in most of your work. Do you plan photo shoots or do they happen spontaneously?
Most of the photos that you see on Instagram of my wife are of random moments. We once tried to do a set photo shoot, but quickly learned that we prefer the “anytime, anywhere” kind of shots. The funny thing is that these days Michelle has a number of poses up her sleeve, which makes us look like pro’s. Little do they know…
Is there a specific “mood” you stick with for your Instagram portfolio? Please give us a few tips and tricks to get that “Damiane” look…
Yes, definitely, I like to believe I have a bit of a “mood”.
- I value proportion, contrast, framing and emotion. Recently, I’ve grown fond of experimenting with light, which has lead me to take a lot of midday photos even though I usually preferred avoiding its harsh light.
- I don’t particularly like editing my photos too much. I prefer enhancing them. I’ve learned this new technique where I lift the shadows and drop highlights, which creates this clear-cut look I’m really enjoying at the moment.
- Something I always try to achieve is doing something different, challenging myself to experiment with new angles or emotions that make people look twice to contemplate the image.
“The Benro PocketPod is great for stabilising photos at a moment’s notice. The tripod is small enough to fit into your pocket (shocker!), and comes with a smart mount for any smartphone and a ball head to position your camera at various angles.” – Graham van der Merwe
What are your dos and don’ts for a couple photo shoot?
1. Firstly, photographing a couple in love should be fun. When you’re trying to force the shots it could lead you to a place that’s further away from telling the story of love. Think about what would be the best way to celebrate their love through your photographs.
A big no-no – don’t ask a couple to kiss constantly. This is a classic cover up for not having a plan of action for the shoot.
2. Secondly, if you’re meeting them for the first time on the day of the shoot I suggest that you take some of that time to learn their love story… how they met and what they love doing together. This will help guide you in a direction that leaves them happy and comfortable. If it’s possible to meet them prior to the photo shoot, make sure to talk more about them as a couple than what you’re hoping to achieve. The photographs will do the talking afterwards.
3. Lastly, on a more practical note, planning is very important and is probably 80% of a shoot’s success while the remaining 20% is made up of all of the other variables in play on the day.
Do you have any advice for photographers/content creators who are just starting out?
Being as passionate about your technical abilities as you are about conceptual or visual abilities makes a big difference in your photographic journey. First, focus on why you like what you’re doing instead of how or with what. The why is what gives the photo life while the how and what is the practical part and can change on any given day. Once you’ve figured out the why I reckon the how and what will emerge spontaneously.
In my opinion, the best way to capture a photo is to consider the story you’re telling rather than the face you’re photographing. What I’ve learned from this is that I’m allowing the person to give me a moment to see and capture what they’re really saying or perhaps even thinking.
What are your plans for the future?
My goal for 2019 is to connect and work with new people while exploring new brands and growing in experience.
Photojournalism seems very appealing at the moment and at some point I’d like to do a series of photographs or videos where there can be proceeds or profits gained.