INGRID VEKEMANS

“Through my work I want to show the beauty, the power, the mystery of nature in ways that evoke these aspects best to me and the viewers” says the Belgian photographer Ingrid Vekemans.

She often uses a striking realism in wildlife photography, creating portraits, which capture the very essence of an animal’s nature. The elephant-portrait ‘Matriarch’ is almost legendary and has, for example, been shown and acclaimed in the Smithsonian Museum in Washington.

Using impressionistic elements in her photography on forests, she creates a mood of mystery and silence. While she uses an expressionistic style in her landscape photography, showing the reality in a ‘painterly’ fashion. One of her bodies of work portrays sunsets at Victoria Falls which are very different from many photographs seen so far, which show the famous Falls in a realistic style. What we find here in Vekeman’s works is: atmosphere, heat, light and the eternal water spray playing around in that light. The series is called ‘Mosi Oa Tunya’, meaning 'The Smoke That Thunders' which is the very apt local name for the Falls. This 'smoke' is subject of this series. Like a veil that covers the secrets and stillness of nature to a too curious the viewer.

INGRID VEKEMANS: ARTIST STATEMENT

Through my work I want to show the beauty, the power, the mystery of nature in ways that evoke these aspects best to me and the viewers. This goes from striking realism in my wildlife photography (always aiming at what the essence of a particular animal is) through expressionism, especially in my photography on forests (creating a mood of mystery and silence) to impressionism in my landscape photography (showing the reality in a ‘painterly’ fashion).

Biography

Ingrid has always been fascinated by Africa, first going there in 1994.

Although this continent and its wildlife remain her main focus, in recent years she has become involved in nature photography closer to home. Based in Belgium, wildlife, woods and the small world are her favourite subjects, but landscape photography also takes her interest.

Interview

1. WICH IS THE CENTRAL QUESTION IN YOUR LIFE AS A PHOTOGRAPHER?
To keep evolving to get the most out of my camera and trying to create something new.

2. WHO ARE THE PHOTOGRAPHERS / OR OTHER ARTISTS THAT INSPIRE YOU?
Originally this was Frans Lanting for wildlife photography. Since then there have been so many sources of inspiration as I have seen so many photographs it’s impossible to mention who were most inspiring. In the art of painting I have always loved the impressionists, starting with Monet, who stopped the mere registration of scenes but created an

atmosphere that sometimes only gave a vague image of the truth. This has also inspired me in my photography of other elements of nature besides wildlife.

3. WHAT MAKES AN EXCELLENT PHOTOGRAPHER?
An excellent photographer is – literally – a photographer who excells – who makes special images sprouting from his own creativity and imagination, not by copying what has already been done. Of course he has to have the technical skills to execute his ideas perfectly with his camera.

4. WHAT WAS THE HARDEST PART ABOUT DECIDING TO BECOME A FULL-TIME PHOTOGRAPHER?
It actually wasn’t hard as an opportunity came my way that felt right. To me it was a normal evolution.

5. WHAT MOTIVATES YOU IN YOUR WORK AND WHAT IS DEMOTIVATING?
Having good photos after coming home from a photo shoot or trip (internal motivation) and appreciation from anyone through whatever means (external motivation). Demotivation comes from the opposite, but I don’t get demotivated a lot.

6. WHAT ARE THE MOST PASSIONATE MOMENTS IN YOUR WORK?
The most passionate moments are those when I see exciting, surprising or tender moments with African wildlife. These can really move me.

7. WHAT ARE THE MAIN CHALLENGES IN YOUR WORK?
To keep evolving to get the most out of my camera and trying to create something new.

8. HOW DID YOU DEVELOP YOUR ARTISTRY?
Through always challenging myself further (see 1.), through reading, thinking and watching a lot and trying things out.

9. WHAT IS YOUR MAJOR PERSONAL LEARNING IN PHOTOGRAPHY THAT YOU WOULD CONVEY TO A „NOVICE“?
Look around you well and read a lot. Don’t try to master all branches of photography, but follow your gut feeling when it comes to choosing the branches that you feel the most attracted to. If you know a little bit of everything, you will seldom become very good at one thing. Follow workshops with photographers whose style appeals to you. They will give you a lot of tips in a very short time, that will always take you a step further. Try to be original. Have the guts to take risks and experiment. And make sure your photos are good quality; be hard on yourself in that respect.

10. WHICH ARE THE DRIVING FORCES FOR YOU PERSONALLY AND IN YOUR WORK?
What drives me is my love of nature and my desire to spend as much time in it as possible. Photography gives me that chance. Also I love to share with people what I have seen through my lens, whether that be a unique wildlife moment or a different view on a flower or a forest.

11. WHICH FEELINGS DETERMINE YOUR WORK WHEN OUT IN THE FIELD?
Feeling one with nature, being touched by nature and a creative state of mind.

12. ON WHICH CRITERIA DO YOU JUDGE YOUR OWN WORK AS SUCCESSFUL?
When I get compliments about my work, when work gets sold or awarded , when I get appreciated for workshops or lectures or when I get asked if my work can be published.

13. YOUR PHOTOGRAPHIC WORK AND THE BEAUTY OF OUR PLANET, NATURE: WHAT CONNECTION DO YOU SEE?
I capture what I see and refrain from extensive post-processing. No elements are added or removed, as that to me conflicts with the whole idea of nature photography. I get my pleasure out of what I create with my camera, so what I see is what the viewers of my work get – the beauty of nature as it is.

14. ASSUMING YOU WOULD HAVE 15 MINUTES ON A TV BROADCAST AND PEOPLE ALL OVER THE WORLD COULD LISTEN AND UNDERSTAND WHAT YOU WERE SAYING, WHAT WOULD BE THE CORE OF YOUR MESSAGE TO THE PEOPLE?
It would be that if people want to keep enjoying being in nature or photographing nature or watching nature photographs or videos, they should respect nature and actively protect it. So many aspects of nature and so many animal species are threatened or mistreated that it’s no option to turn away from it… get involved through your actions and what you preach.

Press

Her awards, news and publications pages offer a lot of scrolling material: Ingrid travels, gives workshops and lectures and also goes and wins awards. A busy lady indeed. And a versatile one at that. Her sincere interest and dedication shows in her photography. Ingrid clearly studies animal behaviour thoroughly which enables her to capture special moments and to take photos that distinguish themselves. With apparent great ease she moves around the very big and the very small, from dew drop to elephant, or from faraway exotic places to the nature around the corner. She is most known for her Africa photography, but let her play with macro photography and atmosphere and she also pulls that off very well. Ingrid doesn’t shy away from either width or depth, resulting in a wonderfully extensive and tidy portfolio. NATUURFOTOGRAFIE.NL

Pure photography and animals in their natural habitat the way you never saw them before. HET NIEUWSBLAD

The mantelpiece of Flemish nature photographer Ingrid Vekemans must be cram-full with trophies. She has strung together awards in leading international nature photography competitions like Memorial Maria Luisa, Oasis Photo Contest, Nature’s Best Windland Smith Rice Awards, International Photography Awards, NARAVA International Contest of Photography, Melvita Nature Images Awards, MontPhoto Contest,… Though Ingrid spends a lot of her time in Belgium’s most beautiful nature reserves, her eyes only really start to sparkle when she talks about Africa. Without a shadow of a doubt the wildlife of this continent is her biggest passion. However Ingrid also developed into a versatile photographer close to home. In home base Belgium wildlife, the forest and the macro world are her favourite subjects, but she also embraces landscape photography. LANDSCHAP MAGAZINE

Awards

– 2016 | Grand Prix in Festival International Nature Namur Photo Contest
– 2016 | ‚Battle Of Giants‘ wins a Highlight in the category ‚World Of Mammals‘ in the Glanzlichter Photo Contest
– 2016 | Highly Honouring in category „Mammals of Africa“ for ‘Battle Of Giants’ in Nature’s Best Africa Photography
– 2015 | Honorable Mentions in National Wildlife Federation 2015 Photo Contest
– 2015 | Highly Commended in Travel Photographer Of The Year 2015
– 2015 | 3d Prize in Melvita Nature Images Awards 2015
– 2015 | 1st Prize in International Photography Awards 2015 + Honorable Mentions
– 2015 | Silver Medal in Narava 2015 Photo Competition
– 2014 | Honorable Mention in NPN Editor’s Pick Awards 2014
– 2014 | 3rd Prize in Melvita Nature Images Awards 2014
– 2014 | Honorable Mention in Montphoto 2014 Contest
– 2014 | 3rd Prize in International Photography Awards 2014 + Honorable Mention
– 2013 | 1st Prize in Memorial Maria Luisa 2013 + Highly Commended
– 2013 | Honorable Mention in NPN Editor’s Pick Awards 2013
– 2013 | 3rd Prize in International Photography Awards 2013 + Honorable Mentions
– 2011 | Highly Commended in Memorial Maria Luisa 2011
– 2011 | Highly Commended in Burrard-Lucas Wildlife Photo Contest 2011
– 2011 | Honorable Mention in Narava 2011 Photo Competition
– 2010 | Special Mention in Oasis Photo Contest 2010
– 2010 | 2nd Prize in the Oasis International Photo Contest 2010
– 2010 | Honorable Mention in NPN Editor’s Pick Awards 2010
– 2010 | Highly Commended in Burrard-Lucas Wildlife Photo Contest 2010
– 2010 | 1st Prize in Nature’s Best Photography Windland Smith Rice International Awards