Lizet Sleutelberg, a 25 year old self taught photographer from Amsterdam, draws inspiration from the natural beauty and extraordinary people that surround her. Lizet purchased her first DSLR a few years ago and hasn’t looked back since. We caught up with Lizet to talk about her career, creativity and the current state of the photography industry.
You got your first camera when you were 14. Did you always want to be a photographer?
Well, I’ve always had a fascination with photography but I never thought I would become a photographer. When I was 14 I mostly made pictures of/and with my friends, getting our model on. I wanted to become an actress actually. I had to choose my further education when I was 16 and I chose social work, because I was a bit scared of the Theater school, ha ha.
When and how did things get more serious?
A few years ago, I bought my first real DSLR camera with two kit-lenses and I loved it all over again. I started making pictures of friends again but in a more fashion-magazine way. I involved some friends that were interested in styling and makeup, and from there on, I got more and more into it all.
What attracts you so much about shooting people?
I have thought about this question many times. I think what fascinates me is getting to know the person in a very short amount of time and trying to capture their personality and natural beauty. If there’s no chemistry between the model and me, I will not be completely satisfied with the results because I feel like I didn’t get the thing that makes them unique.
If there’s no chemistry between the model and me, I will not be completely satisfied with the results because I feel like I didn’t get the thing that makes them unique.
We’ve read that you get a lot of inspiration from music and fashion. Can you give us an example?
Well actually, I get a lot of inspiration when I’m driving in my car with the radio on. Not any channel in particular, but I always get images in my head when I’m listening to a song that I haven’t seen the video for yet. I fantasize about what it would look like and what kind of photography fits with it.It’s the same with fashion – when I see a fashion-show or something in a magazine, I get images in my head about how I can translate it into photos.
I fantasize about what it would look like and what kind of photography fits with it.
We really like the Polaroids on your website. Can you tell us a little bit more about these photos?
Thanks so much! I like Polaroids because you can’t change anything about the result; it just comes out of the camera that way. Also you can’t use Photoshop with Polaroid’s; that’s not even a possibility. A great thing, if you ask me.
”I like Polaroid’s because you can’t change anything about the result.”
What does your camera setup look like right now?
I have a Canon 6D with a 24-70 4.0 lens and a 50mm 1.4. I would love to have some more lenses like a 100mm, 85mm and an upgrade on the 24-70 (the 2.8 version). I mostly rent those now while I’m saving money for that lens.
For my analogue work, I use an old Polaroid Landcamera 420, a Polaroid 636 and sometimes the more modern Fujifilm Instax 210. I also own a Rollei, Minolta and Pentax (thanks dad!). I like all these cameras because I know how to work with them and the results are amazing.
What is your favourite photograph that you have taken?
I’m not really sure but I only have one photograph of my work on my wall and that is the close-up of Lotte. I love this one because it always raises questions with people. Why is she looking straight into the camera and what is she thinking. Also she has an androgynous look to her which I absolutely love.
Do you think it’s hard to make a living purely from photography?
I think so. There’s a lot of competition. But for me it’s not really an issue because I still have a job on the side and the people who are close to me are very supportive. I would only leave my other job when I can make a living on my earnings as a photographer.
There are a lot of freelance photographers right now. How do you make yourself stand out from the crowd?
I just stay true to myself and my own style. I know a lot of photographers also make portraits and Polaroids and sure I get inspiration from them as well, but I always stick to my own style.
”I wouldn’t love my work if I could not be creative anymore.”
How important is being original to you?
When I just got started that was my main issue. I didn’t think I was original at all. I thought all of this stuff I made had been done already by someone else. And that might be true (it’s a big world after all) but it’s important that you love what you do. I wouldn’t love my work if I could not be creative anymore. And that’s what defines originality to me.
We think you’re very creative. How would you define creativity?
Thanks! But wow, that’s a difficult question. I don’t really know how I would define it because its something that comes out of a person’s mind, thinking out of the box, a fantasy of some sort.
So I guess I would define it as something that pops in your head and you try to recreate that image.
Do you have any short or long term goals?
A short-term goal of mine is try to relax more and not care too much about what other people think of me. For a long-term goal, I just want to live happy and do what I love. Traveling the world is on my bucket list!
Are there any future projects you’d like to tell us about?
I just started an internship with Anne Timmer, a well-known Dutch photographer. I’m very excited about that. I’m learning a lot from her. Furthermore, I’m getting married to my love in June this year, so that’s a different kind of project but also very exciting!
Do you have any tips for photographers who are trying to get noticed?
Just keep on posting your work on social media, try to get in contact with people who are also in the industry, assist photographers you admire, and just keep on taking pictures!
Is there anyone who inspired you to create what you are creating right now?
Yes, my boyfriend. A couple of years ago he was hospitalized for a month. A lot of things went wrong and I really feared for his life. Those were such hellish days but luckily he’s fine now. From then on I just thought life is such a precious thing. I want to do what I love. And that’s photography.
Written by: Fares Masharawi
Want to see more of the person behind this lens?
Visit their website: lizetsleutelberg.com