Miyagi’s Crane Kick

Dress  Leo and Lin  Ring  Olivia Creber  Shoes  Nike  Face mask  Phoebe Hyles
 
 
 

Nick Van Tiem is a fashion photographer from Amsterdam, the Netherlands. The characters enlighten the work with emotions, they aspire to be different through their feeling, to live the life they paint with the chosen colors. Caught in a movement or still, characters tell an intrinsic story in a way of fashion. Filled with bright screaming palette, the fresh vibe of locations, an unapologetic attitude of the models the frames create a special experience of what individuality is today.

Location as one of the key elements adds to the story the kind of awe and curiosity by building the narrative. It also provides a shape to the identity established by the models. We discuss with Nick the importance of location, the pros and cons of street casting and idea of determination during the shooting. Nick worked with clients like Nike, Converse, Footlocker, Under Armour, Drole de Monsieur, and others.

 
 
 
 
Dress  Leo and Lin  Ring  Olivia Creber
Nick Van Tiem by WUL Magazine
 
 
 

"I ENDED UP TAKING PORTRAITS OF MY PEERS, BOYS THAT COULD’VE BEEN MY FRIENDS, GIRLS I COULD HAVE FALLEN IN LOVE WITH".

 

Hi Nick, tell about your experience as a photographer. Where did it all start?

I guess when I enrolled in the photography course at the Royal Academy of Arts. But when I look back, it feels that my career as a photographer really started after graduation. Without teachers busting your balls on finishing projects within a set timeline, country and theme, I felt the freedom to really do what I want to do.

What were the main milestones in your career up until this point that made a difference in professional development?

I originally graduated as a documentary photographer, so I spend my first two years working for newspapers. I found myself unhappy and uninspired, so decided to buy a Mamiya RZ medium format film camera and go to Cape Town without a fixed plan. I figured that the high costs of the camera would limit me to photographing only subject matters that were close to my heart.

I ended up taking portraits of my peers, boys that could’ve been my friends, girls I could have fallen in love with. This was the start of a new visual identity and took me where I am now. Buying that camera and taking that trip probably was the best decision I’ve ever made.

 
 
 
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How would you describe the photographers’ scene in Amsterdam, what are the biggest challenges to focus on fashion photography?

Amsterdam is a small city, where most photographers on a certain level know each other. Obviously one can be your competitor, but the general vibe is really inspiring and vibrant. My personal challenge within Amsterdam is to find the beautify in the ordinary. I’m not interested in shooting a fashion series at beautiful canals, but rather ask the Turkish supermarket if I can use their vegetable section as a backdrop.

 
 
Top  Sandro  Pants  Arnsdorf  Earrings  Valet
 
Top  Sandro  Pants  Arnsdorf  Heels  stylists own  Earrings  Valet
 
 

"BUT I GUESS IF YOU’RE HAPPY WITH WHAT YOU DO, THAT’S ALREADY A BIG SUCCESS".

 
 

What is success for you?

Having a good mix of personal, editorial and commercial work. One can’t live without the other, and all of them are equally important to me. But I guess if you’re happy with what you do, that’s already a big success.

What affects you the most for generating new ideas, books, cinema, music, fashion magazines?

I guess a lot of my inspiration comes from adventures while traveling alone, newspaper articles and geeky movies I watch with my girlfriend.

Do you prefer to photograph on set outdoors or in a studio? What are the main cons and pros in your opinion?

Outdoors. A studio is an artificial place, no lives are being lived there (well, maybe mine in some weeks).

When shooting outdoors, the location can tell its own tale or can strengthen the story of the person portrayed. You work with what’s available - natural lights, props, people that are passing by. In every shot, everything has to come together. Nothing beats shooting a photo that’s peaceful in a place that’s chaotic.

 
 
 
Top  Maje Shirt  Headpiece  Phoebe Hyles
 
 
 
Nick Van Tiem by WUL Magazine
 
 
 
 

"I PREFER STREET-CASTING OVER MODEL AGENCIES AS I’M MORE INTERESTED IN CHARACTERS THAN IN MODELS".

 

What affects you the most for generating new ideas, books, cinema, music, fashion magazines?

I guess a lot of my inspiration comes from adventures while traveling alone, newspaper articles and geeky movies I watch with my girlfriend.

Do you prefer to photograph on set outdoors or in a studio? What are the main cons and pros in your opinion?

Outdoors. A studio is an artificial place, no lives are being lived there (well, maybe mine in some weeks).

When shooting outdoors, the location can tell its own tale or can strengthen the story of the person portrayed. You work with what’s available - natural lights, props, people that are passing by. In every shot, everything has to come together. Nothing beats shooting a photo that’s peaceful in a place that’s chaotic.

Today, it becomes more and more prominent for the most fascinating shots to feature fresh and very different faces from what was in trend before. If in the beginning it was easier to awe and inspire with finding an ultimate unknown talent, it becomes more difficult now. How do you approach this aspect and what do you think might be a new say in casting in the near future?

I’m not really interested in finding the ultimate unknown talent. I prefer street-casting over model agencies as I’m more interested in characters than in models. Sure, sometimes it’s harder if they are in front of the camera, but it creates images that are so much stronger than just a pretty face. Instagram helps a lot in this, where it’s possible to stalk the hell out of a certain city to find different stories. For example, when I went to Puerto Rico, I managed to set up over 20 portrait meetings in two weeks just by messaging people. It allows me to see what I find interesting rather than following the guidelines set by the modelling industry.

 
 
 
Nick Van Tiem by WUL Magazine
 
 
Top  Maje Shirt  Headpiece  Phoebe Hyles
 
 
Nick Van Tiem by WUL Magazine
 
 
 

If you could learn from one master be it in photography or another sphere, whom would you choose?

Although I admire and gain a lot of inspiration from fellow photographers, I don’t have an idol in that sense. If I have to choose something though, I would like to learn the Crane Kick from Mister Miyagi.

In the story Doggystyle for Moam & Mendo, you have worked with so many dogs on set. This was probably very challenging in terms of getting the right posture and stare in the right direction. How did you manage?

We shot this series on the world’s biggest dog convention in Amsterdam. We only discovered about it a few days prior, so went in with practically no preparation. We asked people if we could ‘borrow’ their dogs for a photograph and after that, it’s just one big waiting game. I asked the model to hold a pose while I was looking down in my Mamiya for the perfect shot, in the meantime a dog next to me would be licking my face. It was fun, for sure.

How do you prepare a model for the shoot? Do you discuss a specific feeling and atmosphere or do you follow the mood board with the decided before poses?  

Before shooting, I’ve usually set out the visual direction in the form of light, framing and posing. This is a reference for the model and me that we’ll talk to prior the shoot. But while shooting, it’s usually more important to follow your guts.

 
 
 
Nick Van Tiem by WUL Magazine
 
 
 
Nick Van Tiem by WUL Magazine
Nick Van Tiem by WUL Magazine