Street Photography at an extreme crazy super wide angle, this is Willem Jonkers for us. In this interview he opens up about how he started looking wider with street photography and what makes it so much engaging and passionate hobby.
Willem says that he first started with 23mm before settling with this 8mm and the results are just mind-blowing. I can tell you that shooting wide in street photography is not an easy game and with people inside your frame makes it much tougher. But here Willam Jonkers seems to make crafted his art and thoroughly enjoys his game.
Take a look for yourself and get inspired.
Hi Willem, could you tell us a bit about yourself and what you do?
First, I’d like to thank you for the honor for this interview. Very kind and highly appreciated.
In daily life I am an Investment Adviser for high net worth clients. Mostly entrepreneurs. To escape from my constantly keeping up with global geo politics, getting exposed to negativity regarding developments and (probably rightfully so) negative attention in the press on the financial industry, I go out to the streets and mingle among the people to take their pictures. I just love people… That’s also the nice part of my work. I get in contact with so many different people, build relationships, get to know their life stories. That is a great part of my work. I have had many dark periods in my life. I cannot cope with injustice very well because of that. Doing what I do with the best artistic intentions makes my life easier.
What first drew you to photography and how did you discover it?
I’ve had an analogue SLR for a long time, but just used it for vacation snap shots. My wife Sandra (and also a street photographer) wanted to join a photography course and since it interested me I decided to join her. Beginners courses, advanced courses and so on. We tried a lot of stuff like landscape, HDR, Night and Architectural. Then a course Street Photography came along and we submitted. We were hooked from the start.
What makes street photography so special for you?
Just being around people, watching them interact, doing what they do, spotting interesting characters, be in the vibe of the city, witness humorous situations… Just great! Also, for me it’s very therapeutic… Walking around the city with my cam in one hand and my dog on the leash in the other. My dog is always with me ; )
Why you want to decide to shoot 8mm Extreme Wide Angle Street Photography?
When I bought my Fuji X-T1 with the 23mm, after a while I thought I wasn’t close enough so I bought the 14mm. That didn’t the trick for me as well. I just made pictures like I see so many of. Not that I don’t think those are great, but I wanted to do something very different. Then I saw Steven Gonzalez (a Facebook friend) posting a street shot which he made with an 8mm. I bought that lens and was hooked, felt at one with that lens from the start. Sometimes I take my 23 or 14mm, but most of the time I switch to my 8mm within a half an hour… It’s just my thing… I guess I create my own little fairy tale world with it… I´m loving it! That´s what matters.
For Willem, what does it take to make a good photograph?
That´s a difficult one… I´m in the middle of a public street photography book project on Facebook which I initiated with some Facebook friends (We Street 2015) and had to judge thousands of pictures. This is very subjective of course… But to me, composition, details, feeling the street, emotion, an interesting character, creativity, humor, drama, expressions and such are aspects I’m looking for.
Can you please choose one picture from your portfolio and share the story behind the making?
I have some since I do not avoid interaction with my subjects after they discover I photographed them, but this is one that touched me.
This guy was sitting there with his beer and as I walked towards him to take his picture, he noticed me somehow. I think his eyesight isn’t optimal. He asked me for a two euro coin and I gave it to him (as I usually give to the less fortunate on the streets). Happy for the attention. He started talking to me in a way that was totally incomprehensible. I just couldn’t understand a thing… I told him I would take his picture and he replied: “Yes picture, yes picture”… I gave him another coin and he was just happy. Happy to be noticed… The global financial crisis has cost my country some 150 billion euro’s which ignited heavy austerity on metal health care among many other public services… It’s a freaking shame. These situations can break my heart and I will never forget situations like this. It can happen to all of us. Believe me when I say it can happen to all of us! Very tragic.
Your favorite photographers?
- Matt Stuart (brilliant humor)
- Bruce Gilden (Closeness and style)
- Mark Cohen (closeness and distinguished style)
- Tatsuo Suzuki (Best Japanese)
- Siegfried Hansen (for his distinguished style)
There are many more I like though…
I appologize to those I didn’t mention ; ) There are so many great ones!
Your favorite photography books?
Your favorite photography quote?
There are two. “If your photographs aren’t good enough, you’re not close enough” by Robert Cappa and “If you can smell the street by looking at the photo, it’s a street photograph” by Bruce Gilden. Those apply the most to my own street photography I think.
What camera do you use the majority of the time?
Not most of the time, but all of the time a Fuji X-T1. Love it! Their constant firmware updates are superior.
Any tips for aspiring street photographers out there?
Everything has been done. Probably, If you’re inspired by someone and want to take on that style, strive to be better. Most of all: Photograph who YOU are… As a person.
You can find Willem Jonkers on the Web :
All the pictures in this post are copyrighted Willem Jonkers. Their reproduction, even in part, is forbidden without the explicit approval of the rightful owners.