Today we talk to the dutch fineart photographer Nico Westlicht.
1. What are your sources of inspiration for a photo-shooting?
Several: I must confess that I am an avid consumer (and collector) of photography books. Lately I have discovered Sanne Sannes, a talented Dutch photographer whose work I have found really original and inspiring.
2. Explain a bit the process of your photo-shooting
My photo-shootings actually have a quite slow pace. After briefing with the model, I often start shooting with a digital camera, mainly for two reasons: in general it’s always good practice to have backup photos, and secondly it can take some time till the model really gets into the part. I talk a lot with the model in order to create the pose I have in mind. Sometimes I also give her freedom to make slow movements. When finally there’s a pose I really like, I ask the model to keep it, and switch to my film cameras.
3. With which models do you collaborate?
Of course I collaborate with models that I believe they can give a strong contribution to my ideas. From their portfolio, I try to understand if their poses communicate. I prefer models that feel comfortable and natural without make-up, in their imperfect beauty… or beautiful imperfection. The rest for me is unimportant.
4. Which concepts do you pursue?
I am currently developing a few concepts that earlier or later I will publish in series. I cannot say much about them yet, but I believe there is indeed a leitmotif in all my works: I pursue the creation of a daydreaming atmosphere starting from plain reality, and without any Photoshop trick.
5. What is important when it comes to choosing your film?
It depends a lot on the results I want to obtain, since of course every film has its own signature in terms of tones and grain texture. In the end, one could imagine using film like applying an Instagram filter to the pictures, but before even starting to take them! For this reason, I often keep an eye on Flickr groups to understand what kind of look one can obtain with the different films.
Another factor that for me plays a role in the film choice is if I want to rely only on available natural light, or not.
I really enjoy the reliability and latitude of Kodak Portra negatives, although occasionally I like to experiment films from other brands, or even old expired ones. Recently I was in Japan and I have bought a stock of Fuji Natura 1600 (which I am looking forward to try out) and Fuji Acros 100, which is by far my favorite black and white film.
6. About technique: what equipment do you use?
Although I always take a Leica MP with me, with time I have become fond of the medium format 6×7 ratio. For this reason for a photo-shooting I take with me either a Mamiya 7II, a Fuji GF670 or a Plaubel Makina 67. Occasionally, in the bag I also make room for a lomo or a pinhole camera, for a shot or two: it’s so much fun to use them!
7. What makes you satisfied about working with film?
Shooting film surely increases my awareness when it comes to push the shutter button: I shoot only when I am confident that the result in terms of light, composition, etc. will be appealing to my eye. This has been for me a way for learning and improving as self-taught photographer. Another good reason is that I have always needed a sort of ‘cool down period’ before having a look at the pictures I have taken: it helps me to be more critic and objective towards my work.
From the aesthetic point of view, I really enjoy the organic look of pictures on the film medium: there’s something about it that modern image sensors just cannot render.
8. Where is it possible to see and buy your pictures?
To see my works, for enquiries or if you just wanna say hi, please visit my flickrsite: www.flickr.com/photos/nicowestlicht
Nico, thank you very much for this interview!