We are starting a series of featured photographers from our PMPE Alumni members. We are also proud that some of our Photosafari participants have shown very good progress in their photography journey. Our first featured photographer is Wil Thimister. Wil has joined us in a good number of photosafaris to Kashmir, Vietnam, Tibet and Nepal just to name a few. Wil was featured in PhotoMalaysia as the Photographer of the month of September 2013. Congratulations Wil Thimister. We hope that you will keep up with the good work.
Can you tell us a little about yourself?
I’d like to start off with saying that I am very happy with the invitation to share some of my photo’s and my story as a photographer. I was born as a Dutchman and moved to Malaysia at the very last few hours of 2008 for my work. I live with my wife and two daughters in Putrajaya, work in Cyberjaya and photograph everywhere AirAsia takes me.
I spend most of my time, if not working, behind my pc; editing pictures, readying them for my website (www.wilthimisterphotography.com), or reading/listening to other photography related materials on the internet. I always have a long list of “photography todo’s”, or rather “must do’s”. This is where my wife often reminds me that photography is supposed to be a hobby and not a “must”. I know she’s right, but as fellow photographers I think you will understand.
What is your photography history?
It must have been around my twenties when I got increasingly more interested in photography, despite being an engineering student. At that time I didn’t have a photography hero, nor did I read a lot of books about it. I was just grasped by the magic of capturing beautiful things.
My first camera was a Ricoh XR7, an SLR with Pentax-K mount. I bought lenses, a flashgun and many accessories. Then I found out that carrying all that bulk with me every time was not helping as my pictures didn’t come out as I had in mind once I had picked them up a few weeks later from the photo lab. My passion for photography sort of died and got pushed to the back of my mind, so to speak.
25 Years and a disappointing digital experience (shutter laaaaaaagggggg..) with a Canon PowerShot S1 IS later, I bought a Canon EOS 350D digital SLR. Around the same time I migrated to Malaysia as my employer, a German IT services outsourcing company, had won a major business there.
My photography teachers are the well known PM sifu’s Yusuf Hashim and Maxby Chan; their PMPE initiatives and knowledge sharing really spurred my skills. As for other inspirational travel photographers concerned; I admire Steve McCurry, Ami Vitale, David duChemin, Gavin Gough and Mitchel Kanashkevich.
Can you describe your photography style?
Well, travel photography is what fascinates me. What attracts me most are the brief encounters with other people from around the world, or South East Asia in my case. I like the idea of touching timelines of two strangers only brought together by the visual poetry of photography. I shoot with available light only and for two reasons. First, I like how the lights wraps around faces or scenes and second, simply because I never mastered to use flash properly. That’s a bit of a silly answer of course, but I do believe that flash is a bit more difficult to use in the field. To me it takes too long to set up, therefore making me miss the moment, so I just stick to available light.
Within travel photography I like portraiture and human interest more than landscape. In a way it is easier; with the right skills you can approach any stranger and you can have a great engagement, ending in beautiful shots. It is not that I dislike landscape, but I started to realize it is so very difficult. I now know it takes multiple visits to get that ‘wow’ landscape shot.
I always start my workflow with importing my RAW files as DNG using a standard naming convention that consists of YYYYMM <Country> <xxxx sequence number>. It follows my folder structure and provides me a clear overview where my files are stored.
Regarding photographic style I may not have found my “final”style. I like many different styles; high key images, black and white, and also bold colors.
I do my post processing mostly in Lightroom, and nowadays I also use the Nik and onOne plug-in suites. After I have imported the photographs I select the keepers with the Pick tool and then decide which to post process. The sequence I follow in most cases is noise reduction, RAW pre-sharpening, the regular Lightroom development steps (adjusting Contrast, Highlights, Shadows, Whites and Blacks, a touch of Clarity and Vibrance and most of the times some Post Crop Vignetting). Depending on the image I add a gradient to the bottom and/or top to darken and to direct the viewers’ attention to the subject. Final steps are resizing if it needs to be printed and output sharpening.
Any advise for aspiring PhotoMalaysia members?
If the following sentence has not been claimed yet by some famous photographer, I’d like to claim it: “Behind every corner hides a great image”. The secret of taking great pictures is to look wider than you can see, to go farther than you can walk, to sit longer than you can wait. Look out for the right place and wait; the photo opportunities will unfold in front of you.