JRP: Portrait and Conceptual Photographer Yvette Leur shares her thoughts and images with the readers of James Robinson Photography Blog. Thank you Yvette for taking this time with us.
Yvette Leur: Thank you for noticing my work and giving me the chance to tell about it.
JRP: Where is home for you Yvette?
Yvette Leur: My home is in Amersfoort, The Netherlands.
JRP: How did you get your start in photography? Do you have any formal training?
Yvette Leur: I have always liked photography. Making snapshots of little special moments or places I visited was my only experience. I never tried seriously until 2009.
I always admired those big table books from photographers, make-up artists, and hairstylist I started collecting them. I guess in a way it started my love for portrait photography.
Once I visited a dear friend who taught herself photography. I followed the process she was using closely because at the time she was also my colleague at work. She created her own signature style with black and white really high key full of contrast images.
One day, she gave me her camera and said, “Now I want you to photograph me. Try to capture how you see me.” I was hooked from that moment on!
At first I borrowed a camera then I bought my first DSLR (Olympus). I signed up for a course. There I met the nicest people. All equally enthusiastic and with different interest in different kinds of photography. For example, there was a woman who made detailed shots of small everyday objects that really looked like art. It was not my style but it did teach me how to look at things in a whole different way.
There were workshops by Fashion Photographers, Street Photographers, and movie nights where documentaries of photographers and photography were shown. So after this course, I wanted more. I signed up for photography school. Big mistake!
I learned so much more from the students then the teachers and the learning materials provided. The feedback on my portrait work was so harsh and disappointing (nothing much to see but pretty pictures of pretty models) that I felt like quitting photography and selling my camera.
Luckily at that time, I did find a lot of young female photographers online whose work I started to admire full heartedly. (I will mention them later).
They helped me more with just showing their work, writing blogs and telling their own personal stories, than the school I had attended ever could do. They encouraged me to keep trying and start looking for my own way. Not only seeing, but feeling it too. I dived in nose first!
JRP: Why have you chosen the genre of photography that you have?
Yvette Leur: I want to remind people of beauty, innocence, and nature. I love the days gone by of vintage history. I like the old paintings from the Golden Age, the 1920’s to 1950’s. It seems to me that life was less complicated back then. Those era’s just speak to me and I like to use their elements to add to my photographs.
I guess that is why I like to work with a lot of young models and children for my photographs.
JRP: Would you name a couple of photographers that you feel have contributed to your growth and style?
Yvette Leur: Gladly. As mentioned before. These ladies guided my way without even knowing it:
Ashley Lebedev of Bottlebell Photography. Her photographs are stories. Like a fairy-tale completely captured in just one image.
Jennifer B. Hudson – Thoreson. Again, the storytelling with just one image. The use of materials and of nature. The poses of the models. The expression on the faces of the models. Her interviews on Framed and Creative Live. For me the truest form of inspiration.
Brooke Shaden. The slightly darker side of storytelling, the creativity to use easy access materials. The use of blogs and video blogs to teach about creativity, photography and life. Brooke is an amazing teacher.
I could go on for days, Kirsty Mitchell, Alexia Sinclair, Sue Bryce, Amanda Diaz.
And then there are the painters and the artist who draw, use fabric, sculpt, write. Every artist can contribute to your growth, inspiration and style.
JRP: What would we find in your camera bag for a typical shoot?
Yvette Leur:: Nikon D300s body with a Nikon 35 mm and a Nikon 50 mm lens. That is really pretty much it when I go outside.
For my studio shoots I use a Lumopro Flash through a white umbrella on a stand.
I photograph in my living room using a promotional stand were I attach some unbleached cotton fabric or other large fabrics on.
For me it is not about the equipment and how much fancy stuff you can use. It’s about finding creative solutions with what you have to work with.
JRP: Do you favor artificial or available light? What type of modifiers do you use and why?
Yvette Leur: I like both. Depends on the photograph I want to make. I’m not a big technician and always try to work with what I’ve got. I guess that ain’t nothing fancy.
I recently bought a beauty dish. I can mount two Lumopro reporter flashes to it. So more light to figure out. I am really pleased with the first results.
JRP: Please describe your digital work-flow and the software you use.
Yvette Leur: Photoshop CC. For the past year. Before that I was still using PS5.
For me it is still trial and error. It has to look good, feel good. Not be technically correct.
I use a lot of duo tone in my pictures to soften the colors.
Using layers with pictures of paintings to give it a more painterly feel.
Dodge and burn. To give the face, the make-up a little more edge.
JRP: Could you share one of your most memorable shoots and what made it special for you?
Yvette Leur: Only one? 🙂 There are so many. Every shoot, every experience is just so wonderful and brings new ideas and stories.
JRP: If not photography what would Yvette Leur be doing with her time?
Yvette Leur: I have many interest. But never enough time. Photography is just a little part of my life. I still work an office job for 32 hours a week at a Medical Software Help-desk.
I love reading, writing, visiting museums. Taking long walks through nature to spark new photo ideas. Nature on its own interests me a lot so I like to learn about herbs, oils, and gemstones as well.
A lot of the clothes I use in the shoots are handmade by me. Nothing fancy, just straight pieces of fabric wrapped around and stitched to some places pinned on the model using safety pins. So after a shoot, I can take it apart and make something completely different.
The hair and make-up on the models that is something I like to do too. Making things like headpieces, corsets from leaves, branches etc. You could say there is just never enough time to do everything I would like to do and explore.
JRP: Share with us some of the best advice given to you by another photographer?
Yvette Leur: I’ve been really blessed by meeting a lot of new friends who happened to be photographers and share their love of art. What surprises me and what I really love is that they are always willing to help with either ideas or assistance.
I guess the best advice given to me is the only part I still haven’t put into practice yet.
Go commercial, promote your work, sell shoots, sell photos and give workshops.
To be honest, this part scares me the most, so that is the one thing I will have to work on.
JRP: What special advice would you like to share with other photographers?
Yvette Leur: Be You! Honestly, It was Elisabeth Gilbert a writer who said that, but it is so true.
Do not try to please everyone and forget about what makes you feel good.
JRP: Thank you Yvette for sharing your thoughts and images with us. We wish you continued success.
Yvette Leur: Thank you and lots of luck with your blog.
JRP: To view more of Yvette Leur’s Photography please follow these links: