A talk with … Thomas Verfaille
Thomas Verfaille joins STEYPA for the second time, following his first appearance in Djúpavík in 2015. His images show unusual subjects and situations, and often reflect pure chance. The photographs are printed on semi-transparent paper; when displayed in a window, they create a unique visual effect.
What is so special about Iceland and the motives you find here?
Everyone who has been to Iceland knows how special it is. Unique in so many different ways. When I first visited in 2013, I immediately fell in love with the ever-changing rough landscapes, their colours and the special light at that latitude. In fact, I even saw colours that I didn’t know existed before, because of that Nordic light.
It seemed like the perfect setting for my kind of photographs, which are always a bit poetic and surreal.
At first I was really overwhelmed by the vastness and emptiness of the country. Often it was hard to convey that in a single photograph, so I decided to look on another scale and started looking at the ‘little’ things – everyday objects and situations that often don’t get the attention they deserve. That’s how my project ‘I like you standing in my landscape’ came to life.
What is the difference from motives in Belgium, for example? Or can you find similar motives there as well?
Belgium presents a different backdrop for a similar kind of images. It’s also a paradise for surreal situations. Very rewarding for a photographer. It’s not a surprise that Rene Magritte was a Belgian, or that there are facebook groups like ‘ugly Belgian houses’ or ‘Belgian solutions’. Maybe I was looking for something similar in Iceland.
What role does photography play in your life?
It started as a hobby and became a profession, so I can definitely say that it dominates my life. Photography is also a memory aid, because I tend to forget things and certain moments. ‘Take a picture or it didn’t happen,’ that kind of feeling.
You’re a professional photographer, earn your living with photography. What can a photographer learn, what things cannot be taught, and what role does talent play?
The most important aspect for a photographer is learning to observe. To notice details that others don’t. This is certainly something that you can train. Technical skill is something in addition to that. But I will always prefer content over technical perfection when judging an image.
I see myself more as a storyteller than a photographer. I use my camera as a tool to tell these stories instead of trying to take the perfect landscape shot.
Dank je wel, Thomas!
Proofreading/Editing: Melinda Kumbalek