Sandra & Willem Jonkers – Featured IPA members
For a long time I’ve (Willem) had love for photography and owned a SLR for as long as I can remember. But I never took classes or did anything with it. Just for my holiday snap shots, so to speak.
Late 2011, my wife Sandra wanted to take on a photography class and asked me if I would join her. That got us hooked from the very start. After a while experimenting with all kinds of photography we felt that this wasn’t going to cut it. We love our city (Rotterdam) and thought life is happening right in front of us. Why not take on street photography? So we did and got completely carried away from the beginning… To experience that we can be observers instead of participants and see things happen that we normally wouldn’t notice was, and still is, an awesome experience to us.
Since we only had one camera, the whole experience was a bit different from for the most of you. Also Sandra is disabled to a certain extend and she had to move around in a wheel chair with my help at that time. That made this kind of photography extra challenging. We had to give each other the time and space to do our thing with the camera. So I just positioned her in her wheel chair on a street corner or wherever she wanted to be and went for a walk myself or sat down somewhere on a terrace to have a drink for an hour or so… If she wanted to move to a different area, she would text me and I moved her towards wherever she wanted to go. After a while we switched, she would have a drink somewhere and I got a chance to shoot some street scenes… To a lot of couples this switching all the time and getting you out of your zone would lead to big arguments, but we never ever had any. We where just eager to see each others work when we got home and discuss the results and learn from each other’s opinions. Looking back, this experience seems bizarre to us and we are very happy we enhanced Sandra’s mobility by buying her a scooter so she can move around independently. Buying a second camera was a necessity and gave me more freedom to move around whenever I want and to stay in my zone as well.
What street photography means to us as a couple is very simple. What is more awesome than to share a hobby this interactive, creative and inspiring as a couple? Never have the complaints from the other spouse about you spending so much time on your hobby in which the other has no interest what so ever? We can honestly say that we ‘live street photography’ … Of course we as individuals experience it in our own unique ways which enriches our relationship and us as individuals.
For me (Willem) it’s a great experience to interact with people. I Like to go very close to my subject and I couldn’t care less if I get spotted. The conversation that I have afterwards in some cases makes my day. The closer the shot, the better the photograph is my opinion. Therefor I often shoot with an 8mm fish eye or a 14mm prime. I’m a ‘people person’ so to speak… Getting this close will make people wonder if I’m some kind of lunatic sometimes, but I really don’t care in life what people think of me. I just live my life and do no harm to any. On the contrary, I just love to capture people in everyday scenes or often in a somewhat different composition by bringing my camera to a very low pov and create images that we can enjoy now, but especially in the far away future when we look at them. Experimenting with my camera brings me joy as well… Besides all this, shooting the streets is a very therapeutic experience to me. My mind is just emptied from everyday hassle and the only thing I’m concentrating on is just observing. That’s why, if the weather conditions let me, I grab my camera and go out shooting in Antwerp during my lunch break from work…
My (Sandra) experience has been taken to a whole different level since we bought my scooter. I feel like a ‘pirate of the asphalt’ chasing my treasures… So what do I see as a treasure one could ask… Everyday scenes, but also trying to capture the soul and some of the atmosphere the scene is taking place in. I just like purity and I hope very dearly that if one looks at my photography in 30 years from now, that purity and atmosphere still can be felt. The amount of appreciation I get for my photography nowadays only strengthens and inspires me more keep on pirating.
By shooting the streets from my scooter and keeping the camera on my lap (I cannot lift the camera towards my eye), I have my own signature. All my shots look like they’ve been taken from a ‘child’s point of view’… That is rather unique and people have noticed that very often, so I get to hear in my feed backs. Just like Willem, I like to go as close as possible, but that can be a big challenge riding my scooter. Nevertheless, I just navigate myself towards a place where a scene is happening or an interesting person and take the shot. I couldn’t care less what people think of me doing that, but strangely enough, most of the time I don’t even get noticed… A big advantage is that I never get negative reactions. Ever! So my being less able to move freely than the average person is actually giving me an advantage in this kind of photography.
So to conclude, our love for each other strengthens our love for our combined passion, which is observing people in everyday life and document that whenever we see fit in our own unique way. Everyone shoots in its own unique way since we all have a unique way of experiencing life, but to share that with the love of your life is simply amazing!
Furthermore we would like to thank IPA so much for giving us this opportunity to present ourselves, our story and above all our street photography!
Willem & Sandra Jonkers