The Geometric Perfection Of Chris Van Dolleweerd
The pinnacle of sports photography
By Rick Boost
Hypnotic, mesmerising, a bit moreish? These are phrases you could easily ascribe to the work of Dutch photographer Chris Van Dolleweerd. His work fuses the perfect framing and spectacular arrangement of in-frame objects so as to grab and hold the attention of the viewer.
The elements involved in his images are almost always remarkably simple, ordinary items you’d find anywhere. For example, he seems to be especially enamoured with wine glasses. However, Van Dolleweerd is able to identify the allure of specific shapes and perceive the combinations they can create. Likewise most his work utilises a small palette of high contrast basic block colours that compliment each other.
“Most of the time I use common household objects as props,” Van Dolleweerd says, “the fun for me is to create something different.”
It’s excruciating to try and explain if you had never seen them before but for some reason these photographs are immensely satisfying to look at on a cerebral level. The pieces simply fit and things connect in such a way that it tickles the brain’s sense of order. But Van Dolleweerd isn’t some mad magician plotting these mind-pleasers with any grand plan in advance. “The main challenge is to keep creating new cool stuff,” he explains. “I set no goals, I only try to enjoy myself.”
Depending on random sparks of genius can be frustrating, as they “…can come anywhere, at any time of day or night.” Even though he strives to scribble them all down in his notebook, the pattern of work can be erratic at best.
“It can be hard to stay inspired,” Van Dolleweerd admits, “sometimes I take a couple of nice shots in a single week, and sometimes there’s nothing for several weeks.” Van Dolleweerd’s first dalliances with photography line up perfectly with his current unorthodox methodology. Rather than a professional camera, he went through a series of disposable cameras. “Pretty cool things to have in the analog period,” he recalls. “They were cheap, easy to use and the quality was not bad.”
Eventually though, Van Dolleweerd tired of analogue and “…having to wait to see the result.” This eventually led to his wife purchasing him a digital Canon 450D in 2008. In Van Dolleweerd’s words, that is when “…it all started. I could see the result in a second and I fell in love.”
Now Van Dolleweerd works completely in digital. His current weapon of choice is a Canon 7D, usually loaded with a 50mm f/1.4 lens. However, he already has plans to replace it with the Canon 6D.
It’s hard for us to pick a favourite piece of his but Van Dolleweerd has a clear preference for one in particular. Titled ‘One Love’, it is a photograph of a lady framed within a series of steadily shrinking circular holes. As is his style, the captivation the sight provides does clash with the mundanity of its original components.
One rainy Sunday morning, Van Dolleweerd found himself in an empty parking garage. Separating each of the parking spaces was a concrete divider with a hole in the middle. At that moment his creative instinct had it’s trademark strike and he planned the creation of his image by placing his model at the opposite end of the lot and shooting her with a 70–200mm lens. According to Van Dolleweerd, “The shot was the same as I’d had it in my head,” and is his favourite because “I am more of a studio photographer than anything else.”
“Have fun at whatever it is you do,” he advises aspiring photographers. “Just enjoy, be relaxed, and the inspiration will come.”