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Nature photographer Karin de Jonge about emotions and recognition, the motives in her life and photography

by | Apr 3, 2021 | Blog, They let Nature Talk

How does interacting with people affect a psychologist’s artistic expression when she takes a photo camera out into nature?

To get an answer to that question, I talked to the Dutch nature photographer Karin de Jonge, a psychologist in daily life and winner in the category ‘Landscapes of the Lage Landen’ at the NPOTY contest 2019. Time to get to know this versatile photographer a bit better.

Karin took the first photo on her 11th birthday with the camera she had received for that occasion. In the years that followed, photography grew into an important hobby and even made her successfully complete the Photo Academy.

Yet it is only eight years ago that Karin took a serious interest in nature photography. With the children living on their own, there was time to go out with her husband. During a trip to Iceland, they fell in love… this time with the island, where they started bird watching together. A subsequent trip to the Northern Lights really boosted Karin’s passion for nature photography. Since then she has been successful in many photography contests and much of her work has been published.

Inspiration

“Emotion is an overarching theme in my work. Feeling always plays a big part. As a psychologist, I know that people want to be seen, to be heard, and above all to be understood. Emotions and recognition are important aspects of everyone’s daily life.

Goose Lake
The greylag geese seem to dance above the water and remind us of the ballet Swan Lake, Karin de Jonge

With my photos and documentaries, whether they focus on nature, cultural events, or are created in a studio, I try to evoke emotion and a feeling of recognition. I am always looking for the ‘touch’ factor, the aspect in the photo that hits you. There is a big difference between nature photography and the other kinds of photography I practice. In a theater, at a wedding or a funeral, I try to catch the emotion that is already there. Nature has no emotions, we humans “read” nature and attribute emotions to it. A photo can touch us and evoke feelings. I am very happy if that happens with some of my images. But I am aware that I cannot determine what other people experience. It is up to the viewer to interpret the emotion in the photo.

One size too big
The large dragonfly wings combined with the small damselfly in the background create an alienating image, Karin de Jonge

For me, photography has become more and more important in recent years and I put a lot of time and effort into it. I love to go out before dawn to view the world around me ‘through a window of two by three’. Out of fear of missing out I usually carry all my gear with me. That means a heavy backpack filled with lenses, filters, and my tripod. Of course, you don’t deliver a top performance every time you go out but by practicing a lot the photo will be ‘in your fingers’ when the moment presents itself. And even if a photo session does not yield anything useful, I still enjoy it. It is the moment that I press the shutter that is important to me and nobody takes that away from me. Talking about emotions…

Ready for landing
The oncoming swarm of cranes resembles stepping stones in the sky, used by one of the birds in the foreground, Karin de Jonge

When I’m not photographing, I browse the internet or follow workshops and webinars to satisfy my endless curiosity for all sorts of photography subjects.

My photographic interpretation is playing with light and shape, looking for what makes my photos stand out. Order and peace are my instruments. I try to express a form of emotion, alienation, and a sense of wonder through my images. For me, EESI (Emotion, Essence, Simplicity, and Individuality, not to be confused with easy!) is the common thread in my images.”

Blooming under the tree
A snowdrop just in front of the telephoto lens, a tree on the other side of the water, a lot of reflections and an image upside down, Karin de Jonge

Ambition

“Like most of us, I do have concerns about the world today and try to contribute what I have in me. 

In my profession as a psychologist, I help people discover that they are beautiful and worthwhile. They just need to find their sparkle. That sparkle I want to show, not only in my portraits but especially in the photos I take in the field. I want to bring something positive to the people with my photography, something that helps people to move forward in their lives. With my images, I try to touch people’s feelings in a pleasant way. Aesthetically pleasing and soul-pleasing photography one might say. If that contributes to people becoming more caring for nature, then that is of course a welcome bonus. In the feedback I get I often hear that there is a little more to be seen in my photos than meets the eye, which I consider a great compliment.”

Creamy white
The cream-spotted lady beetle draws all the attention to itself in this creamy white environment, Karin de Jonge

Photography contests

“There are several reasons for me to participate in photography contests like NPOTY. To begin with, I like the competition with my colleagues. It offers me an insight into where I stand on the artistic ladder. I also think it is important to see what the trend is in photography, what the competition is up to.

Participating in photography contests, especially when organized as a live event, also helps to get to know new people. Photography is generally a solo activity. Participating in competitions and getting together with other photographers gives the feeling of being part of a community, and offers the recognition every human being needs. And of course, I enjoy the beautiful images submitted by the other participants. I definitely plan to participate in the NPOTY competition again this year.

Dance of the starlings
A sparrowhawk looking for an evening snack creates extra dynamics in the flock of starlings, Karin de Jonge

To people who are on the threshold of entering a photo competition I want to say: never let your self-esteem depend on the outcome of a competition. It must be fun to participate. This means that you should do what you like, always keep your individuality, and don’t let others determine what you should submit. Dare to think outside the box. Set your own bar based on your own possibilities. And remember, a jury’s verdict is just a snapshot. Enjoy the feedback and take it a step further next time!”

Sharing your work on social media is mostly for fun. Enjoy contacts with friends and do not take the number of likes too seriously. Sharing your work on social media also helps you to draw attention to your work and for me, it has already lead to several assignments.

Noctilucent clouds above the Mariapeel in North Limburg
Noctilucent clouds are a rare natural phenomenon to be observed around midnight at the end of June or the beginning of July, Karin de Jonge

“A nice way to improve yourself and to be less alone in the field is to find yourself photo buddies to go out with. Every week I plan a trip with my photo buddy and afterward we discuss our images online. Of course, it had to be someone with whom it ‘clicks’!”

Galloways under the bridge
Urban landscape with Galloways under a bridge and a magical-realistic touch, Karin de Jonge

“One last piece of advice: don’t think that you have to travel far to take winning photos: my ‘Galloways under the bridge‘ that won the category Landscapes of the Lage Landen, was taken on a Sunday afternoon under a bridge in my own home town.”

To finish the interview I asked Karin the following question: “if you could ask another nature photographer one question, who would that be, and which question would you ask?”

Karin answers resolutely: “I don’t have a list of favorite photographers, everyone is inspiring to me. And I’ve taught myself to ask questions when they arise. After all, life has enough unanswered questions already!”

The fortune teller is missing
The crystal ball is ready but the fortune teller is nowhere to be seen, Karin de Jonge

Erik Ruiterman

Erik Ruiterman

Hi there! I am Erik Ruiterman. I love birds and photography so I am an enthusiastic nature photographer. I like writing as well so I am a blogger. And because there must be food on the table I also work as a consultant. Due to my training as a fashion photographer my view on 'natural beauty' has change for ever. You can find my portfolio on Nature in Stock. (https://www.natureinstock.com/search?s=ruiterman) My photo adventures often form the basis for my blogs in which I try to view the phenomenon of nature photography in a relative way. For me that is always with a wink and a nod. You can of course find my blogs on this site. But also on topic2.nl.

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