Dagmar Van Weeghel – Photographer, filmmaker, philanthropist, loves nature & conservation, based in the Netherlands Studied film & photography in Amsterdam at Netherlands Film Academy, graduating in 1998. Currently at the Amsterdam Photo Academy.
Worked as a film/TV producer & director for the past 18 years. Worked and lived in Africa for many years running an NGO in conservation, media & education. [Official Website]
Can you tell a little about yourself?
I’m dutch, 41 years old, married and with 2 children. I’m a 1998 graduate from the Dutch Film Academy where I studied Film & Photography- and I recently picked up studies again at the Dutch Photo Academy in Amsterdam. I’ve spent many years of storytelling through film, living in Africa. And I used to work as a film & TV producer and director. In 2002 I initiated an NGO in Africa as well: Nature for Kids. We produced educational conservation films for and with local African communities. It was groundbreaking work and it became an amazing journey for myself as well. I moved back to Europe 8 years ago.
How did you get interested in photography?
Photography was always there, but not my main tool for storytelling. After 14 years of experiencing Africa, running the NGO and making films I wanted to tell my own stories through photography as well.
Who are some of your favorite classic photographers, and how did they influence you?
I’ ve only recently starting exploring the classic photographers more and to be honest; I like the work of many. But Irving Penn stands out for me, he created such powerful images. His compositions are amazing and organized sculpturally. I think I tend to work in the same way. Also the power of some of his pictures lies in his emotional connection with the work & the portrayed, and his ability to capture those feeling in the image. This is also something I am trying to achieve. I am definitely feeling a lot when I create and I can only hope that the viewer will also feel the connection upon completion.
What first drew you to photography and how did you discover it?
I actually don’t remember. I don’t think there was a profound moment that made me want to pick up a camera and take pictures. What I did know when I was very young was that I wanted to go to Africa and film wildlife, nature, get involved in conservation over there. I’ve seen Out of Africa many times and I was inspired by conservation pioneers like Jane Goodall and Diane Fossey. I wanted to go to Africa and film wildlife, work with wild animals. And this is when I started my film studies and journey. The first time I went to Africa was in 1998 to film the painted hunting dogs in Zimbabwe. Africa touched me deeply.
How do you educate to take better photos?
I´ve studied film and photography from 1994-1998 in Amsterdam, I recently went back to study part time at the Amsterdam Photo Academy because I felt the need to educate myself and continue learning further, to fine tune my technique and discover where my core lies in capturing still images. I also learn from the internet, from videos on editing techniques as well as exploring other peoples work. I am constantly evolving – photographing more and more. I keep on discovering new things and aspects about myself, It’s a great journey.
How do you come up with ideas for your projects?
My life in africa and my marriage to an African man spiked my interest in African history, culture and art. Even though nature conservation is still an important aspect of what I want to contribute to. Over the years I became especially interested in Black identity issues, how did black people live throughout history and where and how do they now define themselves globally. So most of my photographic work naturally evolves into that direction.
Do you take photos more for yourself or for others?
For myself a 100%, I just like to and need to tell stories. And because I don’ t depend on a whole filmcrew now to create a story in a still image, I can create images whenever I want. But I do hope that people can relate to my work and appreciate the artistic aspect of my work. That somehow the image touches them or makes them see that there is more than meets the eye. I strongly feel that there is a deeper narrative to all people, which is what I like to highlight in my work.
How important is an awesome website for your business?
I think it is important, to showcase your work to a bigger audience out there and present it in a way that you feel fit.
How has social media played a role in your photography?
Social media has raised my profile as a photographer. Its amazing how you can network out there. And I have only just started. It’s also how I’ve met many other photographers with whom I share the same passion which is great. At the moment I am also feeling that there could potentially be a flipside to it; because any work is shared so quick and frequently; it could take away the magic of an image or body of work too. I’m still figuring out where to stand in this and how to use social media wisely in raising my profile and showcasing my work.
What are some tips you would give to yourself if you started photography all over again?
It’s too early to say!