Staying Curious to Progress as a Photographer

A major characteristic of an accomplished photographer is to produce unique material on a consistent basis, which means often stepping out of the dreaded ‘comfort zone’. This is the stock equivalent of shooting tomatoes isolated on a white background.

I’ve always been quite curious by nature. This has lead to some extraordinary results during my travel by bike around The Netherlands and currently in northern Italy.

Bike

Getting lost is OK

It seems a bit childish of me to say this but sometimes I feel like the world is mine to explore. When worst comes to worst and I’m caught in a wrong place, I do a good job to ‘play dumb’ like some lost foreigner who ventured too far and didn’t understand the signs.

Generally, I don’t mind getting lost when I’m on my bike, as long as there are unique experiences along the way. When there is frustration it’s usually down to fatigue, darkness and/or my mobile phone battery has run out – usually all three combined.

Six Examples

Here’s some examples of when I’ve ventured into the unknown and found some truly special moments. Some of these have been regular stock photography downloads. .

1. The Time I Crashed a Wedding

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Cycling along the Naviglio Grande towards Lake Maggiore Cycling Tourism along Milan’s Canal (Navigli) Network I ventured away from the path to explore the late-medieval town of Robecco Sul Naviglio. In particular, what drew my attention was a very high wall close to the city’s 15th century castle. Inside I could just about see a beautiful garden with Roman style statues. I wondered what they were trying to protect and why so I went to explore. At the main entrance which was lined with cypress trees I could see on a distance a vintage red beetle from a wedding reception which was about to take place

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2. The Time At the Heineken Factory

People who visit Holland think that the main Heineken factory is in Amsterdam where they can go for the Heineken Experience, but the main headquarters is in a town called Zoeterwoude, close to Leiden.

Well, I passed by this town on my way from Rotterdam to Amsterdam and was looking for a good angle to photograph the huge factory for an editorial, when I ran into these cool dudes.

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There was a sweet smell of burnt hops in the air, perhaps they were drunk
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This image of the Heineken factory has been downloaded a handful of times

3. The Time I Witnessed A Police Stand Off

I consider myself quite a lucky person and on this occasion I found myself at the right place at the right time. This next occurrence was on my way to work in Rotterdam, Netherlands when I witnessed a police standoff. Five minutes before or 20 minutes after I would have missed all the action and never would have told the story. Fortunately, I had my camera with me as I was travelling that evening to Paris.

I managed to position myself at the right places and some shots ended up on the front page of a local newspaper (which I pitched directly). If a similar situation were to occur today, I would have submitted it to Alamy Live news as an editorial.

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4. The Time at the Wailing Wall

If anybody ever has a chance to visit Jerusalem, I highly recommend visiting the Western Wall – Judaism’s holiest site. It’s a quite somber place and surprisingly quiet for the number of worshipers. It’s also a place with a strict dress code, especially for women.

I was looking for a non-cliche shot of the wall and found a kid playing around with a mask. I signaled at him to look at me and bang – here’s the shot! Still not sure what to make it of it and buyers may be equally confused, but I like the shot.

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I’ve licensed this image to Alamy on a RM basis, but no licenses as of today

5. The Time I Caught a Special Romantic Moment

I wrote about this image of a romantic moment in front of Milan’s iconic Duomo Cathedral on another post. I’ve since submitted it to Alamy as RM and Arcangel Images (for book cover licensing) on a non-exclusive basis.

Silhouette of a young couple kiss in front of Milan' s Gothic cathedral
Silhouette of a young couple kiss in front of Milan’ s Gothic cathedral

6. The Time I Saw Hell

This next image isn’t pretty, but it’s powerful to provoke a strong emotional response. I recently caught a special moment of a strange man in a strange place. I still don’t know what to make of it, although it’s definitely not stock photography. Do you like it?

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Stay curious and good things will happen.

Until next time!

Alex

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