with one of The Netherlands most unique photographers
Artist: Cristel Brouwer
From: The Netherlands
To be honest, I didn’t really study anything. My dad went to ‘Fotovakschool’, a university to study photography, so I grew up seeing him look for the perfect picture, making a square with his fingers, trying to teach me some stuff at young age. He even developed his own films in the dark room. I’m just not sure whether he graduated from that school or he dropped out, have to check with him, ha! I was just too little.
So, my interest was there, growing up I had all kinds of ideas, but I couldn’t get the results as I had no good camera to capture it. When my granddad died a while back he left us some money, and with that I bought my first camera, a Nikon D70. From that time on, I studied some stuff online, I had some people helping me and I did a lot of trial and error. Still do btw. I’d love to push myself so much further, I have the weirdest ideas, but suffering from severe performance anxiety it still holds me back to really developing those ideas to an image. I still don’t think I have shown my real style because of that.
This is the first time I’m opening up about this by the way. I think it’s important to speak up about it as I had a lot of people asking me about my photography and telling me they wanna shoot too, but are to afraid to do so…
My Photography Process:
It usually it comes within the blink of an eye. I have ADHD, so I’m easily triggered and my mind easily explodes with ideas. Usually I just have to sit down, take a breathe and brainstorm a little with the people I’m working with and see which ideas they like and which we actually can do. So, it can take one hour from beginning to end (ideas, shoot, photoshop) or it can take a week. It really depends on how I’m feeling and how in sync I am with the people I’m working with.
I love love love to capture the raw emotion. For example, this picture of Vinny Cavanagh from Anathema. Still one of my faves. He was singing “One Last Goodbye” which is written for their mom who passed away. The whole venue was silent, only Vinny was lit, his voice trembled and he broke down. Boom, there you have the picture.
When not shooting live material, I still love raw stuff, but as said before I have’t really shown what I’m capable of due to my performance anxiety. I’d love to do more like Nikki Sixx. His style inspires me so much! He is to me the perfect photographer: his work is raw, dark, black and white, keeps your attention and it’s dirty and weird. I totally love it!
Well, I have to be honest that I have a lot of input from my creative partner Dimitris Tzortzis. Together we started Immensa Artis, we create artwork for artists and companies. I found him online a while ago (he lives in Greece), loved his style and asked him to work with me. I think that was three years ago and we’ve done a lot ever since. We just finished the artwork for Bleeding Gods who have been signed by Nuclear Blast!
One of our more recent success stories was with the band Candlebox. Working with an artist is usually doing a shoot in a few minutes as there is no time. Working with bands from other countries, we have to meet on show day. In case of Candlebox, I was inspired by their album title Disappearing in Airports. It felt lonely to me, being everywhere and nowhere without really being where you are. It felt a bit fleeting to me. So I texted Dimitris, told him my idea and asked if he could make the image into a drawing light picture, as I knew from the start that there was gonna be almost no time and space to make this concept happen. I shot it in the middle of the road in The Redlight District in Amsterdam. There’s just no way I can put my camera there, have the shutter open for such a long time and do that a few times so all the expressions where OK, without having them addressed by fans or hit by a bicycle (Oh how we love Holland hahaha). So, he did that and Candlebox loved it so much they made it their press pic.
Music is just simply my life. You do not just listen to music, you feel it, in every vein… it’s very inspirational.
Where My Art Has Been Featured:
I work a lot with Ayreon’s Arjen Lucassen, he is just the sweetest. I shot The Theater Equation and now the new DVD ‘Ayreon Universe’ for him.
I’ve worked with Alter Bridge since I shot their first DVD Live in Amsterdam. I wasn’t really hired to do so, but I think something went wrong with the original images from their photographer, and I was just there at the right place and time. I’ve done some stuff for Alter Bridge ever since and I consider them, both crew, band ,and some spouses, my friends. Lovely peeps.
I’ve worked with some older bands like Brainbox, Focus, Steel Panther, and old members of Living Blues. Like a Storm has new merchandise with my picture. With Dimitris and Immensa Artis, we also did a few things for Tremonti, Alter Bridge, Bleeding Gods, Hordearii, Downcast Collision, Synergy Protocol and so many more.
Next to that I work for magazines like Music Maker, Revolver’s Lust for Life, Liveguide, Aardschok and UK’s ProgWorld.
Where You Can Find Me:
~ Cristel Brouwer
Cristel Brouwer’s amazing work has been featured in the following Artist Waves articles:
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In collaboration with/produced by Jeff Gorra