I’ve been following Richard Terborg for a few years now and have always been amazed with the amount of creativity and passion Richard delivers to the world. When he agreed to do an interview for DIYP I was literally jumping through the roof. Here goes:
DIYP: Hi Richard, can you describe what you do to someone who has never seen your photography?
RT: Yea! start with the hardest question! I’m a people photographer. And I’ve focussed that too portraiture, fashion and fine-art.
I love movies. Specially very cinematic movies. And I was brought up watching lots of them. It was always way to expensive to get a good video camera and make your own movie back in the day, so I figured why not get a still camera instead. Learn about composition, lighting, toning and by the time I got that figured out. Video cameras will probably be cheaper. But then I fell in love with stills photography.
Instead of using an hour and a half to tell a story it had to be fewer frames, with more story telling per frame. Either through pose, expression or environment. And this is what I try to do. Create and tell short stories through my photography in a cinematic style. Either in one frame or with multiple frames revolving around a single story.
The other part is photographing people and listening to the story of who they are, what they want to do in their lives and then capture that moment for them to remember. I really love the fine-art aspect of photography, because it’s me… it gives me all the freedom to do what I want, and I love people and their stories. The portrait side of things gets me to them.
My style is a little dark, gloomy, high contrasty and I love playing with colors in my scenes.
DIYP: When and how did you make the move to be a professional photographer?
RT: I wasn’t really planning on becoming a professional photographer. I did however found out early in life that I was a little different in how I would want to spend the rest of my life.
I got a diploma in Multi-Media Engineering (webdesign/graphics design/ audio design/ 3d and web development). After graduation, my girlfriend and I decided to take a 6 month vacation on the island where I was born: Curacao.
During this time we were helping friends with logos, websites, doing all sorts of little things everyday. And we where so happy… Sadly, this didn’t pay the bills. So we decided that after the vacation we would go to work for a company, put our diploma to some good use, and gain some experience for 5 years. Try to save as much as we could so that after those 5 years, we would be able to have another year off to do what we wanted. So about 2,5 years into the job, photography started getting a bigger role in my life. Mainly because I was looking for distraction from work and something to relax with.
I started by making self portraits to learn lighting and composition. Sitting at home, it was easy to build a little scene in some corner or bathroom. I loved this process so much. It was so relaxing. Very soon I found Flickr and got in contact with many other photographers who where doing similar things and learning from each other. And when it was time to quit the job I was so into it that I just kept doing it. By then I’ve gotten a few requests from Flickr friends to teach a workshop and that I did. From there I started figuring out more and more how I was going to make a living in doing what I loved. And now, 4 years later, I’m still holding on to working with people I love, people that are crazy and creative and loving every second of it!
DIYP: Working with the significant other… always interesting…. how are you working as a team?
RT: Me and my wife work together sometimes. She’s a drawer/painter. She custom paints some of my backgrounds as well. Which is handy for me :). Especially when I’m building sets and I need something like a Rembrandt background.:
But other then that she’s usually not involved in the shoots, because we are both freelance independent artists. We both have busy schedules and things to move in our own niche. We do swap business stories etc.
But then move on in our own thing. And when i need like 100th butterflies painted and cut out of paper, she does that for me too haha. Shes the “I can sit here all day and cut butterflies” while I go crazy on the first.
DIYP: So, telling stories, where do you get your stories?
RT: The stories come from different places. Inspiration comes from everywhere and anywhere. For me usually music. I can hear a song and let my mind wonder in the mood of the song, the lyrics, and something would stick with an image. But like i said i love movies as well. So i get a lot of inspiration from wierd movies as well. I might see a lighting style and in order to try and i do that i think of a scene. So instead of lighting a scene. Begin with a light setup and think of a scene to match it. And other times i just brainstorm on a theme, or a color, or a location. Or by talking to someone, and hearing someones story. hahaha what can i say i get inspiration from pretty much anything.
DIYP: How do you see the relations between shooting and editing? How much of your time is spend in editing vs how much time is spent shooting?
RT: Interesting haha, I never really think much about the two. But I do edit my picture and do take a lot of time in editing them. I would say I edit more hours then I shoot.
But if you count the shoot being also the planning, the scouting location, the emailing, finding a team, then I’m busy doing that more then editing. A shoot usually goes from between 2 to 8 hours. Depends on if im doing something fine-art which takes more time, or if I’m having a portrait session with someone.
And I edit a picture again depending on what I’ve shot between 2 to 8 hours per photo.
DIYP: Lets talk gear? what you packing?
RT: Gear! Ive never really been a gear-head. All though off course like every other photographer i have a list of things i would still love to have. But my kit has pretty much been the same for the past years. I have a:
- Canon 7D
- Sigma 50mm f1.4 – This was the first lens i got. For the soft focus, depth of field and portraits.
- Sigma 10-20mm f4.0-5.6 – This because i was still learning and shooting a lot of landscapes. Later on i started using this in my fine art as well because it gave me a bigger frame/scene to fill in small spaces.
- Then 2 years ago I got the Canon 85mm f1.8 and the Canon 28mm f1.8.
My Lighting gradually grew: Started with the Canon 430EX II, and Elinchrom Skyport Triggers, these I still use as back lights, or small lights I can gel and place somewhere in a scene. And now I mainly use:
- Elinchrom BXRi 500
- Ranger RX Quadra and RX heads.
- I have the Elinchrom Rotalux 100cm deep octabox which is my baby and the Rotalux 175cm Big Octa.
And I run around with a Mamiya M645 and a Yashica-D and shoot behind the scenes with them on black and white film. The reason I’ve always kept it light is because i travel by Bike.
I dont have a car. So everything mentioned here needs to neatly fit into my bike bags and on my back. And that’s how get around. I shared my complete bag with InMyBag a while back.
DIYP: Bikes, ha! Makes sense being in the Netherlands, I would love to see a picture on how you pack and travel.
RT: Yea! I travel by bike. It’s easier in The Netherlands but I don’t know a lot of photographers that do it with that much gear (see below). But in my city they made special bike lanes away from cars. So I can pretty much travel my whole City by bike without seeing a car and get where I need to be :). Besides that its a good workout.
You sit behind your computer editing most of the time, just getting out enjoying the fresh air and the little workout can do a person good. But the heavier my gear gets the more my bike needs repairs. I’m busy building a cart for it, complete with tripod holders etc. So I can start pulling that around.
DIYP: And how does a typical set of you usually looks?
RT: I work with teams.I usually have an assistant, makeup artist, stylist, model, and sometimes the added art director or client that wants to see.
And the sets I build when not on location. A big mes of triplex, paint, sand and stuff.
I rather be shooting on location though. But because it was hard to find a castle too shoot in one time. I started building it in the studio. Just got a cool wallpaper, some triplex, went to the thrift shop and got some second hand stuff. And that’s how and why my first set was build. From there on, Now its usually the question: “Do we find it? or do we build it?”
DIYP: Any particular favorite lighting style?
RT: Hmmm not really. The last couple of years I’ve worked with really soft light, and hard rim lighting. I can only say this because I can look at the pictures now in a long series and see that.
While doing that I had no idea. But lately I’ve been experimenting with soft light and having a hard second main light. So mixing 2 different types of light in the main lighting schema. Oh, and I love gels. Dunno why. Maybe because I’m a Caribbean man. But I think gels just add a little depth and add a little to the story. Maybe it’s because of the movie background as well and watching toned movies. I just love to mix color and play with colors in the scene.
DIYP: why the two octas? what do you like about them?
RT: The two octa’s, I think pretty much the same reason I’ve had just 2 lenses. By having a limited amount of gear you open up the mind to new possibilities and you start thinking within those constrains.
I have a beauty dish for my speedlights and gels, and I will use both. The gels more then the beauty dish. Because the Elinchroms have grown on me, and I pretty much use those are my main light sources now :)
We wanted to learn a bit more about Richard, so before providing you with more of his links and photos we got his answers to our famous 5 questions quiz. (Of course, you can trust Richard to redefine quick…..)
- What’s your favorite band?
I seriously listen to everything. Lately I’ve been going between a few! Some old Slipknot, Some house remixes of old jazz songs (I even made a playlist, which is always on in my studio. And always got the same reaction, “what the hell is this cool shit!” cause you know all the lyrics just not the version. So I called it studio sessions!. And last some mexican hiphop like Celso Pina and Cypress Hill. I just love diving in other peoples worlds and let myself go into it. I dont have 3g, or 4g on my phone. I can sit on a train, or bike to a gig, headphones in and just day dream away and design my world :).
- Dogs or Cats?
Dogs!! :) (had 12 of the rascals back at home in curacao) 0 in holland.
- Wide or Tele?
- Best Snack for the road?
not a snacker, but def. something salty like cheese chips
- Must have item for each trip?
Camera! I really don’t care about the rest :) I’ve been on 4 day trips with just a small camera bag, underwears tucked somewhere in the bag protecting lenses.
Picture Credits starting at top: Clothing: Rosies Art, Model: Amesbury Rose, Iris Xenia, Danny Tuijl, Mua/Hair: Dominique Visagiste || Mua/Hair: Ed Krijgsman, Stylist: Michelangelo Winklaar, Duo Designers: Allan Vos & Carmichael Byfield, Models: CK Chiu, Danny Andeweg & Boray Kocoz || Designer: Studio Sabine Staartjes, Model: Anniek Vermeulen, Hair: Jeffrey Kastelijns, MUA: Joyce Schweers || Model: Gwendolyne Post, Grim: Ria Kooijman Visagie || Model & Dress: La Neeka, Mua/Hair: Monika Firmanty || Model: Nienke, Mua/Hair: Ismahan Obenali, Clothing: Corset and top by Sannie Kralt Skeletons Closet || desinger: Kasper Jongejan,MUA: Allure Visagie, Model: Lisa || Model: Elsemieke van der Heijden, MUAH: Joyce Schweers, Styling: Dani van den Velden || Styling: Ashlee Janelle Danso, Clothing: Naomi By Nomi, Model: Nella Ngingo, Mua Jennifer Elmzoon