Please introduce yourself
My name is Gee Hurkmans and I’m a photographer based in The Netherlands. My images are best described as minimalist fine art photography. For me, for my style of photography, minimalism is “the art of less”, of leaving out what can be left out, of negative space, of austere simplicity, of a focus on one object or a small number of objects. The image is self-referrential, it does not refer to anything, it is what it is, nothing else. It does not represent reality, rather it is my recreation of the mood I felt when shooting the photograph. It is my creative interpretation as an artist. And that is what makes it fine art: the use of photography as a medium for creative expression.
How did you get interested in photography?
I got my first camera when I was 14 years old and already then roamed the streets looking for interesting subjects. I remember joining a group of hunters for a day to shoot my first series, and spent entire days in my own dark room. I can still smell the chemicals. I use many of the dark room techniques in my post processing. It’s only for the past couple of years that I’ve focused on black and white minimalism.
Do you have an artistic/photographic background?
No, I’m a self-taught photographer.
Which artist/photographer inspired your art?
Certainly, and more than one. To name just two: Michael Kenna has been a great inspiration, and I learned a lot from my fellow countryman Joel Tjintjelaar, especially his techniques to create depth.
How much preparation do you put into taking a photograph?
I research locations – a series of locations – before I set off, using Google Maps, streetview, TPE, and photo sites such as 500px. I have the luxury of a campervan so I can sleep where I shoot if necessary. I transfer all these locations to my GPS so that I can spend all the time at a location instead of looking for it.
Could you please tell us something about your technique and creating process? (post-processing, equipment (digital/traditional), printing, favourite paper, etc…)
I use long exposure techniques with a set of grads and nd-filters. Before setting up my gear I need to get the feeling of the place: just strolling around, taking in the environment. This may take a lot longer than the actual shooting. My post processing is aimed at refining and reliving that feeling, that mood. I use a Canon 5D MK IV with set of 4 L- lenses. My post processing is done in Photoshop. I am trying to reduce the time behind the computer as much as possible, but I am not easily satisfied with the editing result, so keep getting back to it.
My photographs are not meant to represent reality. Black and white is a first – and important – step away from reality. In my view, in my style of photography, colour would only distract from the main subject. Black and white allows me give the composition more focus and to emphasize forms, lines, shades, structures in a way that that I could not in a colour image.
I am preparing for my first exhibition. Printing and framing my images gives them an extra dimension, and so far I am more than satisfied with the result. I have my images printed by a professional photlab on paper especially designed for black and white (K7 fine art Fibraprint paper).
What do you do in your life besides photography?
I have the luxury of retirement and can spend a lot of my time on travelling and photography, which I find to be an excellent combination. I also go on long bicycle touring (camping) trips for several months a year, and have cycled in countries as diverse as Iceland, Malaysia and Morocco, and in climates from the Sahara to Lapland. Unfortunately I can’t take my heavy DSLR gear with me on these travels.
What future plans do you have? What projects would you like to accomplish?
I think my photography will develop into a more austere minimal style. I am planning to concentrate more on a series. For this Winter that will be a series of polder landscapes (of which we have plenty in my country). And I have nearly finished my first book, called The Art of Stillness, which will be published in August 2020. I wrote haiku as poetic counterparts to the images in the book. The link with haiku is an interesting one: visual haiku vs. poetic haiku. The haiku is a very short Japanese poem of three lines, with five syllables in the first and third line, and seven in the second. It is minimalist, capturing and isolating a moment in time, with a focus on nature. Almost like an epiphany. If photography is painting with light, a haiku poem is painting with words. Both create their own unique reality.