When I started making self portraits way back in 2008, I never would have thought I would be doing this for such a long time. But here we are, at the end of 2019 and I have decided to gather some of my favorite self portraits from the past decade into two books.
‘One More Creature‘ is an 80-page hardcover book, featuring self portraits divided into three categories: “Everything looks worse in black and white”, “The inescapable nude” and “It’s all in the details”. It’s an overall overview of the work I produced in the past ten years, starring some of my absolute favorite photos.
‘In Monochrome‘ is a softcover book containing 42 pages and features exclusively black and white self portraits. The cool thing about this book is that it also features some of my analog portraits as well as a couple previously unpublished photos.
I have put all my effort into creating these two beautiful books. They are basically… My life. If you like my photography and want to support this starving artist, consider buying one of these books. It would mean the world to me!
I’m very happy to announce my new website! The design is completely revamped and lots of new images have been added. Go check it out at www.elsvanopstal.com and please let me know what you think. :)
Another little secret of mine is that I’m trying to get more into shooting video as well. To start this off, I’m going to be making a video to put on the about page on my website. It would be nice if you were to send me some questions about me or my photography, that I could give an answer to in this video. Don’t be shy! :)
If I was interested in photographing a little over a dozen singer-songwriters for his book, that was the question Julian De Backer asked me early last year. Julian and I both went to the same college to study journalism, but we actually go way back to kindergarten. As toddlers, we were in the same class, until my parents decided to move about fifty kilometers away. Twenty years later, we serendipitously ended up in the same school once again, and Julian actually became one of my first models when I just started dipping my toe into photography.
Fast forward another ten years (man am I’m old or what?), and we were working on ‘Songwriters‘ (by publishing group Lannoo), Julian’s first but definitely not last book. In this work Julian has collected interviews with singer-songwriters, going in-depth about the life and art of professional song writing.
I was honoured to be a part of this project and to catch a glimpse of how some of Belgium’s most famous artists go through life. I also don’t know anyone who could have been a better author for this book, as Julian is a wonderful writer and clearly a walking music encyclopedia, and it was lovely to see him and his interviewees get so deep into the subject at times I feared I had lost them forever. ;)
Featured in this blogpost are some of my favorite images, but there are lots more to be seen in the book itself, which also features a cd with never before released demo’s, which is quite a treat. Available in stores or here and here, to name a few.
People who know me well, realize I’m one of those photographers who is really not all that into gear. I don’t feel the need to buy the newest camera or try the latest technology, I might even be called ‘old school’ now and then for still using film cameras. And most of the time, my equipment simply exists of my 6D, a 50mm and a tripod. But every once in a while, during a full moon, even I may suffer from GAS (Gear Acquisition Syndrome, mind you).
I recently noticed some of my favorite photographers were almost always using a 35mm 1.4 lens, which sparked my interest in this particular lens, even though I’m quite fond addicted to my trusty 50mm. And as sometimes the universe has a way of helping you out, I had the chance to try one out for a few weeks. I have to admit I do like the look of it, but what can I say? I’m still hopelessly devoted to another…
The past few months, and August in particular, have been massively eye-opening for me.
What is this whole photography thing? Why have I been fairly obsessed with it for over eleven years now? What do I want it to be? But most of all, what do i need it to be?
Photography has been many things for me. It has been a search for beauty and knowledge, going over finding love and unexpected connection, to ending up what it has actually always been: a way to express myself in a way that I fail to do so in real life, as I assume is the case since people keep insisting on calling me ‘mysterious’… There is just something comforting about pouring myself into a picture, fragile and imperfect, and finding that people are interested in seeing that. And that I am not afraid.
I am generally so afraid.
I want my photography to be emotional, personal, physical. I am less interested in capturing perfect looking models in their most attractive ways. It is nice, I admit. There are some unbelievably beautiful people out there and yes – if you pair them with an interesting location and some good hair and makeup, some proper styling, then boom – you’ve got yourself a picture. But does that picture make you feel anything?
What is it that makes a photo truly unforgettable?
What is the world you want to create?
I want a world where this crazy, introverted (one doesn’t exclude the other) 34-year old female can express herself. A world filled with color, emotion, intimacy, simplicity and flaws. Or as Shannon L. Alder said: “There is no perfection, only beautiful versions of brokenness.”