You just have to look to see it

My name is Lieke Vroomen, I am 32 years old and live in Heerlen, a small town in the south of the Netherlands where I live with my husband and 4-year-old son.

I mainly work as a photographer for creative business owners. Some call it personal branding photographer. However, I prefer to call myself a portrait and lifestyle photographer. I also work as a registered nurse at our local hospital.

Why photography?
Let’s talk about hobbies and passions. I love spending time with my family, taking photographs, reading books (preferably fiction), travelling, and visiting local coffee shops.

So why photography? I guess I always had a thing for still images and capturing things in a beautiful but different way. It started with my parents because they were both really into photography, especially my dad. He loved film photography and had his own darkroom in our basement.

I’ve seen some old photos from that time and absolutely love them, I wish I could go back in time to learn from him. Sadly he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease last year and has forgotten most of that period of his life.

When I was in my teens, I had a couple of Canon point and shoot cameras which I mainly used for family and travel photos. Later on, when smartphones made their entry, I began to take a lot of pictures and experimented with photo editing apps like (the early) Instagram and VSCO. It was in 2017 when people started telling me I should pursue photography in a professional kind of way.

That was the moment I borrowed my sister’s DSLR (an old Canon EOS 500D, if I remember correctly) and started asking people if I could take their portrait for free to build up a portfolio. Now, almost four years later, I run a successful business as a freelance photographer and do something I absolutely love!

Slowing down
Due to a couple of different life events, I had to take a step back and reflect on life and what I was doing. My energy levels dropped, and I wasn’t enjoying things anymore the way I used to. I was forced to take a rest. I sorely missed doing my photography jobs, however, taking my Canon 5D Mark IV out was just not doable for me due to a lot of neck and shoulder problems. I began looking for smaller, compact cameras to take with me on the go when I found out about the Fuji X system.

It started with the Fujifilm X-T30 combined with an XF23mm F2 lens; a beautiful little set-up with immense power. The Fuji Color Science amazed me every time I picked it up. I began doing regular photo walks, and I just loved the size and weight of that camera. On the downside, I noticed the layout and design of the X-T30 was not really for me, and an example would be the buttons on the back and limited thumb-space.

That’s when I learned about the rangefinder-style series (X-E and X-Pro series). Three months later, I purchased a second-hand X-E3, and I was completely sold. It was love at first sight because of its minimalistic and tiny design.

The X-E4 was already released at the time, however that camera may be a bit too minimal for me, and it doesn’t have the grip that I would like. I like the fact that the EVF is on the left side, now I can finally see what’s going on around me, and my nose isn’t bumping against the screen all the time!

After spending some time with the X-E3, I began to think bigger. The X-Pro3 was my dream; a goal to work towards. I did a lot of research online and watched a lot of YouTube videos. X-Pro2 VS X-Pro3, pros and cons. The biggest question for me was if I would like the flip-down screen. After reading all the content on the subject, I concluded: you either love it or hate it.

New perspectives
Coming from Canon, which I still use for all of my professional work, Fuji was something else. I view the world around me in a different way. When I take pictures, I want to escape and wander in my own little world. When I’m out with my camera, the noises around me seem to fade. It’s just me and my own observations.

I’m always looking for lines, light, shadows and interesting people – that’s what I want to capture. I want to show other people that the ordinary isn’t ordinary at all, you just have to look to really see it, and when you do, you see so many extraordinary things! That’s the essence of photography for me.

That’s why I decided to go for the X-Pro3 because the back screen is hidden, it’s forcing me to actually look through the viewfinder, and it doesn’t bother me one bit. I think it’s refreshing to not chimp all the time. Also, when I’m in the streets, I shoot in aperture priority only because I don’t want to miss out on any moments – it’s easy, fast and reliable.

Post-processing
So this is my least favourite thing to do, but a must for my professional work. I just don’t enjoy spending a lot of time behind my laptop. For portraits and business shoots, I always use Adobe Lightroom CC and Lightroom Classic. I use the CC version to store and organise files and start with my custom presets. When I’m done with the basics, I start Lightroom Classic to do more specific edits, like retouching and colour grading. It’s an easy and fast workflow that works great for me personally.

With Fuji, it’s a whole different story because of the ‘in camera’ film simulations. This is just incredibly useful, and that’s why I only use the JPEG files (I also shoot in RAW, but that’s more for backup reasons). I developed some custom simulations that I use daily. My absolute favourites are: Acros, because I love to shoot in black and white; Astia, because of its velvety colours; and Classic Chrome, which has more earthy and muted tones.

All of my street photography work is transferred straight to my phone. I will do some light tweaking in the VSCO or TEZZA app, mainly to shift the contrast a little and to add some grain or boost the colours. That’s it, really! Again, this is something that I adore about Fuji: once you have the settings to your liking, you can just focus on your subject(s) and shoot.

Lastly
I want to end this article by saying that Fujifilm is far more to me than just a camera brand. It has given me a new perspective on life because I’m more aware of what’s happening around me. Through the years, I kind of lost track of why I started doing photography in the first place. It was all focused on work, clients and being noticed online. Now I also take a lot more pictures of my family, and those are memories for life.

"I am 32 years old and live in Heerlen, a small town in the south of the Netherlands where I live with my husband and 4-year-old son. I mainly work as a photographer for creative business owners. Some call it personal branding photographer, however, I prefer to call myself a portrait and lifestyle photographer. I also work as a registered nurse at our local hospital."

3 Comments

  1. These are great images, congratulations! I particularly like your use of line, the portraits, and the black and white images. Thanks for the article.

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