5 minutes with — Joshua D’hondt

Antwerpen Wedding Photographer Joshua D’hondt

Joshua D’hondt is a family and wedding photographer from Antwerpen, Belgium. We had her attention for a few minutes to share a bit more about herself and how she approaches her work.

WUN: So, for those who don’t know you, who is Joshua D’hondt?

Joshua: OK. I’m Joshua, 36 years old, I’ve been shooting professionally for nine years now. I started out doing a little bit of everything, then kind of ended up shooting weddings. I actually wanted to be a writer before, so I did philosophy and journalism. But for some reason, I ended up in photography.

I found I really liked it because it is the perfect challenge.

There’s time pressure, It’s meaningful and full of moments and it challenges you to be good in many different types of photography.

So it is actually a really, really good exercise as a photographer to shoot a lot of weddings.

WUN: Right.

Joshua: And if you shoot weddings, usually these couples have kids and they ask you again. So that’s how you start shooting kids. I found I really like that aspect of photography, so the last two to three years, I have been focusing more and more on family photography. In a way, I like it better because there are no expectations.

WUN: In what way do you feel that?

Joshua: There are no key moments that you just have to get. No expectations from the family-in-law, from the parents or the wedding planner. You can just shoot creatively from the heart and create something for yourself, something that definitely would be appreciated. I find it liberating.

WUN: So are you going to keep shooting weddings or are you transitioning into only family photography?

Joshua: I still shoot about 10 to 15 weddings per year right now, but I’m trying to only go for weddings that I really want to shoot.

WUN: And what are those kind of weddings?

Joshua: I really like weddings with kids. Simple, spontaneous and moment-driven weddings. People that like to book me because of my family photography.

WUN: You seem to have a strong documentary style to your photography, that is at least the feel you get when you look at your website.

Joshua: Yes. I try to document things the way they are. Of course, we work for clients so there’s always an aspect of that, it is not pure documentation. We always want to make people look good in the end, because we’re shooting for people. It’s not purely for ourselves. But, yes, I focus on moments, emotions and showing what real life, or a real day in people’s lives looks like.

WUN: So you’ve been to the foundation workshops and from what I understand, they focus a lot on the documentary side, or is it more about getting more creative and finding your own way to do things?

Joshua: It is a photojournalism workshop, but they also focus on the mental and emotional part, seeing what holds you back. It’s not just about the photos. It’s also about the person who’s behind the camera.

Sometimes it is your personality that holds you back, but that doesn’t mean you have to change your personality. It means that you need to realize that your personality has an influence on your pictures so you can make sure it’s not standing in your way in making them better.

WUN: So you can use that knowledge to your advantage?

Joshua: Yes. I feel foundation is like the beginning of a journey which in the end gives you the tools to better understand the work that you’re doing. I feel after attending two of these that in whatever situation I end up, of course within my style and my knowledge, I know I will get something out of it. I can ask myself the right questions. My technical foundation is better because I know where to start from.

I know where to look for good light, where to look for composition and how to make the photo itself. I think that’s a good way to put it, you learn how to make a photo.

WUN: So has this changed your way of shooting from what you used to shoot?

Joshua: Totally.

I used to be a very intuitive shooter, which meant I basically walked in somewhere and shot what I liked or what felt right. Now, I’m going in with a purpose. I think about the story I’m telling and how I’m telling it. Focusing on the why and the how — it’s a completely different way of working.

WUN: So do you communicate with the client beforehand so they know this? Or do you prepare them in some other way so that it is easier to make a connection when you get there? Or, how does it work?

Joshua: I think the first communication is my portfolio. I changed it drastically two years ago. Before, it was more general and light-oriented, more beautiful photos. Now, I did my best to put images in there that are close to my heart, that I know will not go well with certain people. So they attract the right people, and detract other people not in tune with my style. People that love pastel colours and flowery, bright images. They will immediately leave my website.

People who like funny stuff and moody, dark situations, complex images — they will probably be intrigued with what they see, so they will keep looking. When they contact me, I always send a wide variety of examples of full galleries that I have delivered to former clients. It is a way to manage their expectations, to give them a good idea of what they are going to get . And I feel in my experience, they usually look at a lot of them. So by the time I get there, they already know how it works.

WUN: That’s a great idea.

Joshua: I make sure to send them examples from completely different situations. For family photography, sometimes it can be a really dark house with a very moody atmosphere, but it can also be a bright, open house, if that is how the family lives, if that is who they are. And the photos will reflect that.

So when I arrive, I’ll just tell them, “Behave just as if I’m not here. Just trust me” and I don’t need to tell them much more.

WUN: Right, because they already have an idea from looking at the full galleries what you’re going to do.

Joshua: I try to let the pictures speak for themselves, and if they have more questions about clothing or practical matters like “Do I need to clean my house?”, I tell them that if it makes them nervous that their house is a mess, then yes, please clean it. Do they have to clean it because I’m coming? No, I don’t care, I’m happy with whatever they feel comfortable with.

WUN: Great, so thank you Joshua D’hondt for taking the time to have a chat with us!

Joshua D’hondt online: Website | Instagram

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