Recently I was approached by Amber Dubach, a young student. She’s a student of a sport communications bachelor in Tilburg, and was interested in doing a short interview about my photography. The interview mainly centers on how I got to where I am, and the role sports play in my life.
I was interested in learning if Bram had been passionate about sports and photography for a long time time, and how he got into the active lifestyle niche. He explained how he’s always played sports, from running, tennis and football to climbing/bouldering more recently.
Photography is something he got into during his studies at Eindhoven University of Technology. It grew from merely a hobby to a pastime that earned him a little money to a full time vocation. While still at university, he grew convinced that there was more to life than working nine to five for an employer in the industry his masters education destined him to work in, which was industrial engineering, opting for a career as a freelance photographer instead.
Not your typical sports photographer
His focus on active lifestyle wasn’t clear from the start, also shooting music and corporate portraits at first. Through shooting climbing at Monk Bouldergym though, Bram got to know shooting sports. Both capturing the action, lifestyles and portraits of athletes became a fascination.
Not opting for the label of sports photographer was a very conscious choice. He feels this refers too strongly to photographers using huge lenses sitting by the sides of pitches. Instead, he wants to work with athletes and not showing a journalist image, but a somewhat more epic version of the truth.
Bram hasn’t studied photography at any school, it was merely a hobby that got out of hand. He explains how attending an arts school is definitely not a necessity in order to become a successful photographer. Much can be learned from books and the internet, and by being inspired by other photographers.
Outdoor and climbing, but mainstream sports as well
Some people ask him if he doesn’t feel it’s a bit of a waste he’s not putting his degree from university to good use through a conventional job. He counters that sentiment by explaining that he’s both a photographer and an entrepreneur. For this last role, his degree definitely comes in handy, it helps him think about things analytically and plan and communicate professionally. This analytical thinking came in handy when he had to decide on which niche to focus on. Although Bram’s passionate about climbing and outdoor activities, he recognised that The Netherlands isn’t quite an outdoor country. For this reason, Bram was more than happy to also shoot more mainstream sports like football and running.
Bram’s still very actively involved in sports himself. He explains that as a photographer you work long days and are on the move a lot, so you have no other option than to be in a good condition. Having practiced many sports also helps him in his photography. It allows him to anticipate the action and predict when something spectacular will happen.
￼A day in the life of a freelance photographer
When I asked him what a typical day in his life is like, he indicated that’s actually hard to describe. Working as a freelancer means no day is the same. Bram rents a workplace in the Eindhoven district of Strijp-S, to prevent having to work at home. In a sense this is ironic, since he wasn’t looking or a nine to five job at an office, but is now forcing that exact rhythm onto himself. In addition to actually shooting photos, a lot of work goes into post-shooting: culling series of photos, editing and delivery. Keeping a portfolio, social media, blog and finances up to date also suck up time. Finally, it’s important to shoot personal projects. This helps develop photographic skill and can be a great way to show your style to potential clients. Working evenings is no problem if you feel like you’re doing what you love and if it’s your own choice.
Finally, I asked Bram for some advice on how to best differentiate from other people active in your field of expertise. The most important advice he gave me was to find your own personal niche, where you can be unique. For me personally, this means finding a niche in sports communications and sports marketing and make sure I become the best professional in that specific field.