I would probably need an infinite number of counting beads to count how many times a photographer says they are trying to capture the master painters of old in their work. But one photographer embodies this style whilst infusing it with their own master touch more than any other. Meet Gemmy Woud-Binnendijk, one of the sweetest people you will ever meet and a master of portraits! I first saw Gemmy’s work a few years ago and was blown away by the attention to detail and subtle touches. At first, I thought they were paintings until I looked closer. Her influences are worn clearly on her sleeve for all to see, but she never copies. Gemmy’s work forces you to star at it, looking for the little touches that add character, and that is where the magic lies.
DIY: Tell us a little information on how you started photography, what made you pick up a camera.
GW: I’ve been creating my whole life, painted and crafted a lot.My private situation changed a few years ago, because of that and some health issues I couldn’t paint anymore. So, about two years ago I bought a camera to replace the painting. I photographed a lot of zoo animals, a wedding, and even a new-born shoot and at that point, I thought of quitting photographing because it wasn’t so satisfying as painting for me. Then an ad from a fine art photographer appeared on Facebook for a one day workshop, she worked with strobes ( something that felt very intimidating to me at that time). I went to her workshop, and since that day I’m stuck on photography 24/7. I sucked in all info about photographing with strobes, tutorials about retouching, followed some workshops like the one with Pratik Naik, but also online workshops from Renee Robyn helped a lot. Suddenly all parts fell in place, and I could use a camera as a replacement tool for painting and creating images.
DI: Your images look like paintings from the old masters, who are your biggest influences?
GW: I painted a lot and always loved the way old masters did it. I love how they use light and shadows to create drama. My favorite old master is definitely ( besides Rembrandt, Vermeer, etc) Caravaggio. His paintings are so intense and really phenomenal for that period.
DIY: Tell us a bit about your idea process….how do you come up with your image ideas
GW: My brain never stops creating. That’s sometimes really frustrating, but it helps me if I write or sketch down whats on my mind( most of the times just single words about a color, a shape, mood or a tiny sketch). Also, I collect images from magazines, Pinterest, etc. transform ideas in mood-board so that my make up artist knows kind of what I’m after in an image.
DIY: Is the creation of your images pretty much all done in camera, or do you use a lot of Photoshop
GW: It depends, I try to shoot as much as possible in camera, but when I do a composite image, I love to spend a lot of time in photoshop. I’m a kind of photoshop addict and 9 out of 10 times I work zoomed in like 400%. Also when its just retouching skin in a simple portrait. It’s normal for me to spend at least 8 hours on one basic image ( also because I’m a bit indecisive and skip back and forth in my color grading).
DIY: Children feature in many of your images, are they easy or hard to work with?
GW: I only found out that photographing children in a certain way is a lot harder when I started to work with professional models :0 that was compared to children like a piece of cake ? but I’m really enjoying working with children, they are so pure! Especially when they don’t know their own beauty yet.
DIY: You just collaborated with Nikon, can you tell our readers more about this?
GW: I already was a Nikon user, but out of the blue early this year I received an email from Nikon if I like to have a meet and greet at Benelux headquarters. After that, I worked a few times with them on events and ending in being their brand ambassador.
DIY: Out of all your images which image changed your life the most/or had the greatest impact on your career.
GW: I think the albino sisters made the biggest change, at that time I met Nadia (my MUAH and also best friend). And it just was the right moment to jump into the big adventure in Rome ( that’s where they lived) Those images were beside a social statement of beauty also important because that was the point Nadia and I got together as a team. She is the more structured part of me, and we constantly push each other in creativity and ideas.
DIY: What advice would you give to anyone looking to break into the photography world.
GW: Find out what’s really your passion for photographing, push yourself out of your comfort zone. Just do it instead of thinking I’m going to fail ( I always think that, but jumping into the deep doesn’t scare me that much anymore ), its good to make errors and do things completely wrong or different. Try different skills of photography to find out what suits you best also it will give you more knowledge and solutions in other sections of photography (shoot landscapes if you’re a portrait photographer, shoot strobes if you only shooting daylight, get out of your comfort zone)
DIY: Where do you see yourself in ten years time. What is your overall goal?
GW: My biggest and only goal is to create! So I hope I’m still creating within ten years from now.