Why I put my photography on hold

Lazy men - Emmely & Mike
Lazy men – Emmely & Mike ©yannbastiaans

During many years I really enjoyed taking photographs, especially of women. Despite popular beliefs it is not very erotic to work in the presence of a scantily dressed or naked model as a photographer.. It is hard work! ? It truly is…

The direction my photo shoots went started to ask too much of my energy, of my time. As a starter I had the greatest difficulty to find women willing to pose for my camera. Nudity, even partial, was out of the question. My work was um.. not really up to standard. Slowly my photographs improved a notch, and my contacts grew. More and more women were prepared to make an appearance before my lens, but it still was very amateurish.

The next hurdle to be taken was the scarcity of MUA’s, or MakeUp Artists willing to assist me. As my work improved, I managed to get some professional models to work with me. For free that is, I never paid for a model to coöperate. But those pro’s demanded a MUA to be present. Again it was a slow process to find good ones willing to spend their time, energy and money (a MUA has to do a big investment in materials) on my projects.

I had the chance that my partner decided of her own accord to follow evening school to get her certificate as MUA. So from then on we worked together, which was very pleasant ? She knew me, she understood what I wanted to achieve, she could feel how I felt during photo shoots.

Contortionist - Erika
contortionist – Erika ©yannbastiaans

But then the projects started to grow, in ideas but also in frequency. Even for outside shoots I packed all my studio flashes with battery packs. And then all the props needed to be transported and carried. So assistants were needed, to help with the carrying, with the lights, with the props. Fortunately there was no shortage in men willing to spend a day working with me. I wonder why? Surely the reason could not have been the chance to be next to a naked woman? ?

For some projects I needed a hairdresser, a stylist, and in my biggest production I had to direct 6 MUA’s, 4 hairdressers, 2 assistants, 9 models, 12 soccer players and their trainer. Behind the scenes the soccer team also had their staff for serving food and beverages to the players and models. This shoot took me 2 months to organize, 3 meetings with the soccer team management, and a lot of sweat. The shoot was done in 3 shots, and I felt I had captured the image I wanted. Two months of work for less than 5 minutes of shooting..

Football club Zulte-Waregem (Pro League Belgium)
Football club Zulte-Waregem (Pro League Belgium) ©yannbastiaans

After each shoot I spent hours and hours behind my LCD screen with my Wacom-tablet previewing my images. Leaf trough them, selecting the best ones, which was never an easy choice. And then followed the tedious work of correcting them. Correcting the colors, the light, sometimes removing disturbing objects in the image, eg. a wall plug that appeared in the image but didn’t belong in the picture. On average I spent 30 hours sitting behind my computer for each photo shoot.

This slowly grew over my head, this was draining too much energy from me. Coordinating a shoot takes at least three people – sometimes more – to agree on a date, on a place, and then wait in hope the weather will be favorable. And before even thinking of shooting I needed to come up with fresh and exciting ideas, nothing worse than standing somewhere with a model without any inspiration. The youthful rashness, the improvisation suffered under this working method I had adopted.

Never did I really like my images. Nowadays I am sometimes amazed by this or that image, and then I wonder if it was really me who made that picture. But most of the time I still do not appreciate my work. I started to see them as too artificial, too set up, not nonchalant enough, too planned, too smooth.

So I just put my camera back in it’s bag, where it is tucked away since two years, almost untouched, despite it being very expensive. When I take a photo nowadays, I do it with my mobile phone. And my motivation to make an image from time to time is my partner who often says I should make more pictures as souvenir. Of the dogs, of the house I am rebuilding, of my life, of my travels. But the spirit is gone, photography has drained me in the end.

The egg - Yentl
The egg – Yentl ©yannbastiaans

Of course I think about photography a lot. I follow many photographers whose work I admire. I buy books, surf on internet. I still cannot stop looking at people or places with a photographer’s eye, judging poses people unknowingly strike, evaluating the ambient light and shadows. And sometimes I dream about starting my hobby again. But on a different basis.

What form it will take I am not sure yet. Sometimes I think about inviting someone to spend some days with me, or to go and spend some days in their house. And to be free to take photos along the way. Not the way a normal shoot is proceeding, just more natural and spontaneous. Images with more of a story in them. With ambient light. Without special makeup. Without restrictions or taboos. A model that is 24 hours a day at my disposition without limits. Under the shower, sleeping in bed, working in the garden, hanging up her clothes, dressing and undressing, peeing on the toilet, cooking in the kitchen. Nothing explicit, as I believe my work never was. No pornography, I have no interest in that. Just day-to-day images, but a bit more special, with a special atmosphere. And no more women selected exclusively for their body and for being photogenic. But just normal people, people in all their beauty because they are normal.

Of course some images would be posed. But that would just be because I saw the model perform something and I missed the moment. Or to do that pose again but under better light conditions, in a different room or another place in the garden. But nothing artificial, just natural. With more heart and soul.

Maybe… ?

Colors at the beach - Charlotte
Colors at the beach – Charlotte ©yannbastiaans