Today we like to introduce you Belgium photographer Raf Debruyne. Some of his photos you already have seen in Streetfashion MagZZine's feature about Dutch model Nadine Werkhoven, who is the reigning 'Miss Beauty of Utrecht'. Raf was photographer at the Miss Teen and Miss Beauty of the Netherlands contest. He also likes to take photos of abandoned buildings and places, Cars/Motorcycles (On or off Circuit), travels and events. Take a look at his photos and learn a bit more about him by reading our interview.
Hello, my name is Raf Debruyne and I was born in 1975. I was born and raised in Leopoldsburg (Belgium) and I still live there in the city center. After my studies in Hasselt, I started as a Mechanical Engineer for a engineering’s company in the region. In 2005 I start working in the Netherlands still as a Mechanical Engineer for another engineering’s company. I still love my job and it combines very good with photography. My other major spare time activity is driving around with my Ducati.
Have you been involved in the arts in some form other than photography?
Not really, I don’t have a steady hand for drawing or other arts, I like to hear music, but can’t play or sing.
In my profession I have to design and think in 3D to find a solution. Someone can reference that to any kind of art or thinking.
Seeing your remarkable work, I am curious where your creativity comes from?
I think that I find my creativity in a combination of searching on the internet and looking around in real life. I find a theme or style most of the time on the internet, I use Flickr, Pinterest and Instagram as creativity source. By traveling around I see locations that are useful to have a shoot.
Also the model has a big influence in what we are going to do. It is a mix of both our thoughts.
Could you share with us how you first became interested in photography?
Before 2009 I was only using a small pocket camera for taking photos during holiday and going out. Just like you use a mobile phone now.
In 2009 I went to the USA for 5 weeks traveling around. Afterwards I was looking at the photos and found them poor. Not like I saw the places and wanted upgrade to something better.
Early 2010, after talking, looking and searching on the web I bought my first DSLR camera. From then on it became a nice hobby until now it is a real time consuming.
At the moment I use a Canon 5DIII body and lenses Canon 135/f2.0 and 24-105/f4.0 and also a Carl Zeiss T 50/f1.4. I use the sun as main light with reflectors if needed. Speedlites or a set of Elinchroms I use to give it a more glamour look. I use some rentals like Canon 70-200mm f/2.8 if I need them, they are too expansive at the moment for me to buy.
At this moment I use most of the time the prime lenses, I like the look they produce and the way of taking photos with it.
I started with a Canon 550D with the standard 18-55mm lens with afterwards a Canon 17-85mm and other lenses.
Can you tell us about your work flow from the point until you showcase the developed picture?
If I start from a scratch it is like this. Find a theme, location and model, sometimes also a MUA and some assistants. When it is a new model for me, I try to have a meeting before the shoot to speak to know what we want to accomplish with the shoot. If I already did some shoots or know the model it is some moodboards, mailing and calling if needed. For the location, I try to find a nice spot that would fit the shoot theme and I try to see it a couple of days before the shoot. When the shoot starts we have a small chat so there is a relaxed atmosphere in the group. During the shoot there will be enough time to give each other directions and discuss how the end result need to be.
Afterwards I make a back-up before select the best photos from the shoot. I try to deliver a couple as fast as possible, so the model have a good example of what it looked like during the shoot. At the moment still using Elements but I start learning Lightroom this winter to use that with Photoshop later next year.
Do you see a particular influence, be it a photographer or school on your work? Any subject that attracts you?
Beside street fashion or portraits, I’m also photographer for Miss beauty of the Netherlands and love travel photography. Combine those styles together and you have my influence.
I can’t say that I see some influences from particular photographers in my work. I look and enjoy the work of other photographers.
What would you say characterizes your work in comparison to other photographers?
I try to keep it as natural as possible. For me it means no difficult or strange post-processing of the photos from a shoot.
The effects I try to find it during the shoot itself. For example, shooting against the sun instead of PP or nice reflections in the water. It is also more rewarding to find such an effect to use, because the model can also enjoy that moment with you..
If I had to choose one, it wouldn’t be fair, I’m still growing in my work and it will be one of the latest shoots that I did until now.
I would say the picture that the model likes the most and is used for publication on blogs or used in portfolios. That is what makes me happy.
Tell us your funniest or most awkward photography story.
This summer I had the opportunity to shoot the voting photos of finalists for Miss Beauty of the the Netherlands on an helipad above an hotel near Rotterdam Airport. A weekend shoot with 360 degrees view over Rotterdam skyline and airport during the fashion shoot of the 24 finalists is something special.
What would you tell a newcomer who asks for your advice on how to start?
Ask different persons for their experience about their own gear. Don’t buy too many gear in the beginning, so you can learn from the basic on with only body, one or two lenses and a flash, maybe a reflector to play with.
If it is for buying the first gear, I would recommend to try renting or at least hold some different brands and types. Nothing is more frustrating than a body or lens that is not fitting your hands or use.
I would tell the starters in photography that they need to find their own style in photography. It is difficult to do, but at the end I find it the most rewarding to have an own style of shooting and editing.
Don’t try to do to many different styles or kinds of photography in the first place. Do one thing that you like and try afterwards something else to see if it is something that is more in your style.