Rotterdam / Avignon / Tokyo Freelance Photographer / Hypebeast Contributor
A good friend for many years already, and a very talented photographer with a unstoppable drive to keep progressing. Born and raised in Spijkenisse, where he laid hands on his first camera and immediately turned his sister’s room into a dark room so he could develop his own photos. He delivered us some killer photos of Dam-Funk and recently left Holland to go big in Asia. Time for a long-distance interview with one of our favorite photographers, Simon van Wijk.
Give us some little information on yourself. Who are you and what do you do for a living?
My name is Simon William van Wijk, and at the moment I’m living on a island called Tasmania, Australia. Bascially I’m sorting things out, but most of all enjoying life.
Where does your passion for photography originate from?
It is hard to explain how this so called ‘love’ for photography started to grow. It would probably be more fair to say that photography kind of started out of semi-boredom. I used to live in a picturesque city called Spijkenisse (next to Rotterdam), where I always used to hang out with close friends. One day, one of my closest friends bought a camera, so every time we hung around he would take photos and stuff. Naturally for me, not really being able to do much beside watching, it all kind of started to get boring for me. So I decided to get a camera as well, and from there on out, I started to get more and more interested in photography.
But the real love started growing when I moved to Tokyo, Japan. I was in love with that city and wanted to capture as much as I could of all the great things Tokyo has to offer. I realized that the photos I took all went straight to my computer and I would never have a look at them again. Because of this I bought a cheap film camera, shot my first roll of black and white and boom! Lightning struck me and I said to myself ‘this is really awesome!’. Even now this feeling is beyond comprehension. So there you go, a brief introduction of how it started and where this so called love for photography comes from. Out of love for my city Tokyo.
Photography is mainly about a certain feeling and visualising. How do you constantly inspire yourself and where do you take that inspiration from?
To be honest I’m not really sure where I get my inspiration from, most of the things I do and like to take photos of can be considered as personal tests I suppose. So the first inspiration would be my cameras, see what their possibilites are and how it can work with me. Secondly, and probably the most important inspiration source, are people who ‘do’ something. People that keep me sharp and people that want me to keep progressing. People are my inspiration. It sounds pretty cliché, I know, but I would’nt know where else I would get this inspiration from. In the end, most of our surroundings are all made by us, the people.
Photography-wise, Who are your heroes/heroines?
I have two main photography-heroes and they are both from Japan, although it is completely different from what I do, there is something in their work which in my opinion is a ‘one of a kind’-thing. The photographers I am talking about are Daido Moriyama and Araki.
Do you have any specific music to work to?
Depends on where I am, in Europe / Holland I don’t really work with music. In Tokyo I work on all kinds of music, from classical music to traditional Japanese folk music, French chansons and so, too hard of a question. The reason for me to listen music while taking photos is that in Tokyo I’ll do more things for myself and what I’m interested in personally. Back in Holland it feels more like working instead of actual personal stuff.
Describe a picture-perfect day in the life of Simon van Wijk…
The perfect day is just being able to walk through Tokyo with my camera. Meet up with some friends and take photos of them, then some boarding through Harajuku to find interesting stuff to take photos of. After that, finishing the day off with a nice bowl of Ramen and a nice cold beer with my friends.
How many camera’s do you own right now, and what’s your personal favorite?
At the moment I am the proud owner of 5 cameras. Those are the Ricoh GR1S, Nikon F3, Nikon F60, Hasselblad 500 C/M and the Nikon D90. The Ricoh GR1S and the Hasselblad are my favorites. They’re both kind of new and therefore there is this form of excitement, of trying something unknown and discovering new things with fresh cameras.
Mostly your work is shot in black and white, why this choice?
First of all, black and white is classic. Black and white are also the roots of a lot of things. And next to that, there is this nostalgic feeling that starts growing when I’m looking at a black and white photo. Secondly, I can develop black and white myself, so that gives me some more independence and control. And hey, it’s cheaper because I don’t need to pay any third party to get the job done. So it’s definitely a win-win situation.
Where does your big fascination for Japan come from?
I really have no idea. As far as I know, I wanted to go there since I was just 8 / 10 years old. I always had this feeling and I still have. After having lived there, nothing has changed yet. I belong there and it feels like my city. Simple as that.
In collaboration with Los Bangeles, what would you like to work on?
I have some pretty cool friends in Tokyo that would fit the Los Bangeles lifestyle perfectly. So, let them wear some of Los Bangeles-gear, I’ll take some photos of them with whatever they’ll be doing at that time and it will work out. No doubt about it.
What is your own personal masterpiece yet?
I have three personal masterpieces (as seen in the slider), here they are :
Do you prefer working inside or outside?
Do you have any hidden talents no-one is aware of?
More then enough but they aren’t called ‘hidden’ for nothing…
If you weren’t into photography, what would you be doing right now?
Honestly, I have no idea what I would be doing. I love doing what I’m doing right now, but this might change in the future. If this changes comes, I’ll just have to drop this and start doing something else. I have no idea what that ‘something’ would be though, and I don’t see this change-thing happen either, haha.
Image your hosue on fire, what are the things you just can’t leave behind?
My bag with my cameras and every single frame I can find!
What are you currently working on?
At the moment I’m living in Tasmania, working, sorting things out and writing my thesis for school. So, not too busy, but soon we’re (me and my girl) moving back to Japan. From there on out I would be able to tell you guys about some more interesting stuff.
Next to photography, what are your other ambitions?
Work for a advertising agency or something like that. At the moment it’s a bit hard to focus on other stuff, since I still haven’t graduated yet. Graduating is a thing that certainly needs to be done. I realised that until today, school has always been slowing me down. So once I’ve got my diploma, I can finally go a full 100 percent on a lot of different things.
With which brand or artist did you have your finest collaboration yet?
The most fun job yet was with the French boutique next door, and of course with Los Bangeles. Sounds cheesy but it’s seriously true!
With which brand or artist are you dying to work with?
Too many! But if I had to choose one, it would definitely be Supreme. Might sound a bit cliché, but there isn’t much I can do about that.
What do you hope is coming up in the future?
Hopefully even more love, luck and prosperity.