Thursday, 20 October 2011

interview with a photographer: Chris Jolink

Chris Jolink. He's from Netherlands . He lives with a passion...more than a passion :D. A passion that , together with the studies , led him to be one of the greatest exponents in this area. Chris is one who loves precision. Present at many events, different events , but he's specialized in discdog as a photographer and as a competitiore.
Good reading

First of all some warm up questions...

Do you smoke ?
No. Smoking kills and it stinks.

What’s the most expensive thing you’ve ever bought?
That would actually be my photography gear... I’ve invested nearly all my spare money in photo equipment the last couple of years. It takes a lot of determination, but I hope it will pay off in the long run. I don’t regret it :)

Last time you watch TV (What)?
I was hoping I could give a more interesting answer to this one, but it was the news tonight...

Ok ,get it over here and start with the interview

Could you tell our readers a little about yourself
My name is Chris Jolink, I live in the city Arnhem in the Netherlands. In daily life, I study Civil Engineering at the University of Twente. When I am not studying, I enjoy my ‘dogs life’. From daily walks to events in the weekend. Other than that, I spend a lot of time making photos, looking at photos and reading about photography. For me, dogs and photography turned out to be the golden combination. I love both and it works great together. Of course, my dogs are my favorite models :)

I’ve been active in dogsports for almost 10 years now, mostly in DiscDogging. I started with photography over 5 years ago, and photography became more and more important to me. Currently I shoot more sports than I participate in them, but I still love dogsports, and especially DiscDogging like on the first day I saw it.


Tell me a little bit about your start in dog sports photography
I have always had a fascination for camera’s and pictures. Since I was little, I was snapping pictures with my (grand)fathers camera. Even more than that, I liked to shoot video. I guess I inherited this fascination from my grandfather, although I was never too serious about it as a little kid, of course.

The dogsports scene attracts many photographers and videographers. Watching these people work, and watching the results on the internet afterwards, triggered me to start snapping pictures again. But as I got a little older, I got more serious about it. And as I tried shooting sports, a simple point & shoot camera just wasn’t enough. I bought a simple digital SLR camera, and started shooting. Shooting a lot and nearly exclusively dogs. I learned what it took to make at least decent photos, and from there the snowball started to roll! As I reached the limits of my equipment, I bought better and faster lenses and a better and faster camera. I learned more and I got better, and so did my photos. I don’t shoot any video anymore at the time though. But hopefully I will in the future.

Which equipment do you use nowadays?
I use a Canon DSLR system. Two cameras (currently EOS-1D mark III and EOS 7D), a bunch of lenses ranging from 16 to 300mm and some flashes that I would like to use more often than I do now...

Do you plan to buy a new equipment?
Always! I have a long wish-list that I am working on. Next up is an 85mm lens for better portraits. Expanding my studio is another thing on the list. I’m also playing with the thought of a faster long telephoto lens. Especially the last option will require some more money saving though...

Which one item of equipment would you say is the most important to you?
That is hard to say as every piece of equipment serves its own goal. The camera is the backbone of the system, which makes it quite important. Other than that, my 70-200mm lens is the lens I use the most and the one I have always with me. It’s very versatile and it can be used for nearly everything. It’s a great lens for (dog)sports in particular. I love it!

My favorite item is my EF 200mm f/1.8 L USM lens. Don’t question the myth, cause it’s all true! It’s a stunning piece of glass! It enables you to blow away every background, isolating subjects like no other lens of this focal length can. It is uberduper sharp, fast and accurate. It really sets your photos apart and I can keep shooting in lightning conditions where others have already packed their bags. It is nothing short of PERFECT for dogsports photography. Except for its weight, maybe...

What is the ONE lasting impression you want to leave in your photos? 
Sports photography is all about capturing the right moment. Timing is crucial and I want to pull the viewers attention right to that decisive moment. Often that is at the apex of the action, like when a dog catches a disc, but often it is the moment right before that. I want the viewers to ask them selves questions like ‘will he catch it?’, when they watch a photo of a dog trying to put his teeth in a disc that is just centimeters away.

Dogs are athletes, and I want to show that in my photos. I try to capture the moment where the dog uses all his strength and athleticism to perform at its best. They deserve it to look good.

Other than pure performance, there is a lot of emotion on the field. When a handler holds his dog and kisses it on the head, that’s a nice bonus to capture.

Who do you listen to? Who do you accept advice from?
Anyone, basically. It doesn’t mean I agree with everyone, but I try to keep an open mind.

How do you know that a photo is really good? 
It is a feeling in the first place. Quite hard to tell, really... A photo has to expres something what the photographer is trying to show you. There are no rules for that, so there is no real answer to this question. That is what makes photography creative.

For example, in sports/action photography, I want the viewer to focus on where the action of that moment is taking place. A dog that is about to catch a disc. A dog jumping over a hurdle. A dog overtaking another dog... You name it. Steering the viewers focus can be done by a tight composition for example. Leaving all irrelevant information outside of the image. Another way is to limit the parts that are in focus. I try to get the right spots in focus, preferably the eyes (or the entire head) of the dog, and blur out the rest, like the background. I’m very selective of placing objects in focus. I don’t want spectators in the background to distract, so I try to keep them as blurry as possible.

If you can steer your viewers attention, it is easier to expres what you want to show. Add to that the optimal posture of an athlete, and it makes the foundation of a good action photo. The rest is personal preference.

Of course, sometimes it works great to keep a shot completely blurry. I tried to make a mysterious wolf-like photo of JC, our Aussie, in an impressionistic manner. Nothing in the photo is sharp, nor is the composition really tight. It doesn’t steer the viewer’s focus, it gives a feeling of being lost while encountering this wild animal. I count it as a good photo, because that is exactly what I wanted to expres with this photo.

There are no rules for what makes a photo good or bad. Just interpretations.

if I say photoshop , what's the first thing that comes to your mind
The blue square icon :)

What do you think about the fact that almost everyone edit the photos with photoshop?In your work you call it an advantage or a disadvantage?
I like photoshop for advanced editing, but I use it very, very rarely. Photoshop has so many tools that your creativity is nearly the only limit. On the other hand, this makes the program complex and sometimes cumbersome to use. Especially when dealing with a great amount of photos, there are better, quicker and cheaper solutions for basic editing, in my opinion. I use Aperture 3 as the ‘home base’ of my editing workflow.

I edit all my photos. I haven’t published a single photo that was not edited. Most of the time these are just small changes like cropping, optimizing exposure or adding a little contrast. Enhancing would be the better term. It makes a huge difference to the final image, and I would encourage everyone to edit/enhance their photos with software.

What are your strengths?
One of my strengths is that I love dogs and that I spend a lot of time with them. I’m also active in dogsports myself and therefor I know how the game works and I know what to expect. In that way, I can always stay ahead one step of the action and prepare better for what is coming. Especially in DiscDogging this is a great advantage.

I also know how to make a dog look good. I know in what phases of a run or leap they look the best. Recently I discussed (action)photos from another photographer of running dogs. On all photos, the dog was leaning on his front paws, in the ‘landing phase’ of a run. It looked funny, like the dog would stumble. Other photographers didn’t really notice this they way I and another photographer who specialized in dogs did. It was an interesting discusion.

3 things that you can't live without?
There are many things I need in my life. More than 3 at least ;)

Who are your inspirations (past/present)?
Two people I admire, are Pavel Humpolec and Maja Rokavec. Pavel for his eye for detail (why didn’t I see that?!) and Maja for her endless creativity (why didn’t I think of that?!)

Are you a self taught photographer or did you have a mentor that showed you the ropes?
I’m an autodidact. I learned to control my equipment by simply using it, trial and error, and learn from mistakes. Shooting lots and lots of images , find the settings that work best, get confident with the equipment and the situation and keeping my eyes open. Once I got confident with all of this, I started to shoot less and to focus more on what I really wanted to capture. It sounds cheesy, but I developed myself in a way that my camera and lens were no longer a device, but an extension of my eye. Now that I am confident in using the gear, I can focus more on the images I see through them.

The internet is a fantastic source of information. I read a lot about photography on the internet and the great thing is that it can provide information on every level. You can find good guides for beginners, but also advanced stuff for experienced photographers. The internet always fits your level.

Why do you love photography?
For one part, it captures memories. I wouldn’t have as many memories as I do now if I hadn’t captured them. Photos really do tell stories.

I love dogsports photography because I get to see things, often small details, that no one would see if I hadn’t captured it. A photo that freezes the moment can show a lot more than we can see live with the naked eye.

Another aspect of sports/action photography that I like, is the thrill of ‘getting’ the moment. Things happen so fast that it requires a lot of concentration to shoot the right moment. When things go fast and ‘the one’ moment is there that could decide the outcome of the entire event, it gives great satisfaction knowing you got that shot.

More recently I started to use more flashes in my photography. It enables me to create more dynamic and colorful images. I’m getting more and more fascinated by lighting techniques, colors and dynamics. It is fun to discover new areas of photography.

Tell us one of the most beautiful things that happened during a photo session .
The most beautiful thing... I don’t know; many beautiful things happen during photoshoots.

I remember one of the funniest things though. I had a photoshoot with a client who cut and brushed her dog’s hair for two weeks to make her look as good as possible for the shoot. Bad weather was forcasted for the shooting day (we wanted to shoot outdoors) and the client was noticeably worried about it. Fortunately, the weather was good and we decided to go on.

Needless to say that the first thing that happend at the shooting location was that the dog fell into a pond... We all had a good laugh about it though... :)



all the photos are a courtesy of

USDDN EC2009 Verden/Germany Chris Jolink & Makani 2.Kür
by BorderWG


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