The oldest vivid photography memory I can recall – is a shadowplay photo I took in Switzerland with my dad’s analog Canon Rebel. The guillotine shutter sound really hit me.
I then first started photographing our skateboarding days in Aalter, Belgium – with a portable webcam, that could save up to 30 shots in JPG at once, probably around 1MP as resolution. I remember racing back home to transfer the JPG’s, and riding back to the skatepark to take another 30 shots – it could even take burst shots for trick sequences.
I grew up in the 90’s and early 2000’s with entry-level digital cameras, until I got my hands on a Canon 400D in 2010 – which really changed my approach, and was the perfect tool at that time. This eventually evolved into the Canon 5D Mk I and II – still 2 of my all-time favorite cameras; on which I mostly used the cheap 50mm f1.8 aka ‘the Plastic Fantastic’.
Music has always been a big part of my life – and the song ‘Artificial Paradise’ by JJ Cale has been acting as a theme throughout my work. It’s easy to bump into absurd or odd scenes – where the often idiotic interference of humanity with the earth – is visual humour – some sort of anthropomorphism of dull objects that frequently grabs my attention – for example, the iced shopping cart in Berlin.
Instead of reading about photography masters such as Meyerowitz, Gruyaert, Soth, Haas, Leiter, etc… (which I only started doing recently) – I adored & followed the work of lesser-known photographers like Vishal Marapon, Nico Krijno, Alex Prager, Kent Andreasen, TJ Tambellini, and others. A huge inspiration has been the Booooooom.com curated works – by the selection of Jeff Hamada – Vancouver based.
Since 2011 I’ve been working for the Canadian backpack and accessory brand Herschel Supply –- which has given me the opportunity to travel frequently to cities like Vancouver, Berlin, London, Göteborg, Stockholm, and others. During these specific trips – I’d have jetlagged 4AM photowalks – which usually gave me rewarding photos. New horizons tend to be an accelerator.
In 2017 I started noticing some Belgian talent, such as Piet Stellamans, Daniil Lavrovski, Hans Borg, Josefien Tondeleir, etc… who seems to work (partially) with the Fuji X system. I followed a similar trajectory in the Fuji X system as I previously had with the Canon. I did a complete tabula rasa, a swap, and sold all Canon gear at once – to start at the bottom with a Fuji X30, moved to an X70 and X100T, added an X-T20 with a 7artisans 35mm f1.2, collected some XF lenses like the 23 F2 and 35 F1.4 – added an X-T2, added an old Fuji X-Pro1 – which opened up a whole new & slower world – and finally decided to buy a new X-Pro3 in 2020. Later on, I also added a 7artisans 55mm and the Viltrox 56mm f1.4.
I’m still swinging like a metronome between these different focal lengths – where 35mm is the center and most used. Most of the time the X100F and X-Pro3 are with me. For more extended zooming – I used to own a Lumix TZ100 – a compact travel camera with an impressive zoom – which I used for the golden hour reflections on tower blocks. Unfortunately, I sold it, rebought it, and then lost the second one due to water damage.
Earlier this year – I was fortunate that my father & youngest brother gifted me a Mamiya RB67 – on which I now have the 65mm and 125mm adapted. I’m currently developing my first Kodak & Ilford rolls.
It’s challenging me again – and revitalizing the love for photography – and forcing me into a new approach – which directly translates into my digital work as well. A GFX might be an interesting future purchase.
I’d like to thank the Fuji X Passion team for offering this space to show a selection of my work – it has been a pleasure to dive into the archives – and was also confronting since I’m currently in a busy phase of my life – combining my family life with my girlfriend Audrey and two amazing sons, and the sales job in the current challenging times. Although these are days filled with gratitude – I’m craving for more camera days in the future.
“My name is Freek Wille, 36, living in Ghent – Belgium, with my girlfriend & 2 sons.
My photographic core theme is called ‘Artificial Paradise’ based on a song by JJ Cale; where I’m looking for pictures with a tristesse that makes you laugh.”