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Smoke on the Water - © Tracy Munson MPA

Friday, May 28, 2021

FEATURED PHOTOGRAPHER: NICK DE DLERCQ by Tracy Munson

Headshot of Nova Scotia Real Estate Photographer, Nick De Clercq
Introducing featured photographer Nick De Clercq! Nick specializes in architectural, interior, landscape, and travel photography. Beginning his career shooting luxury properties in his hometown of Ghent, Belgium, his range quickly evolved and branched out to other areas of photography.

Along the way, Nick’s work has been awarded on occasion. As one of the youngest Europeans, and youngest Belgian, Nick was awarded the qualification of Qualified European Professional Photographer (QEP) in 2014, after a series of his architectural work was judged by an international jury of 5. The QEP recognises and rewards excellence in European Professional Photographers, and is presented by the Federation of European Photographers (FEP).

Nick also became an accredited professional photographer with the PPOC in Canada after a series of his architectural work was judged by a jury of 3 in 2015 and got accredited once again in 2016 after a series of his travel work was judged.

A photo of the Golden Gate Bridge by Nick De Clercq
Restless - Golden Gate Bridge - San Francisco, USA

PPOC 2017 Image Salon - Accepted

"I probably love the memory of the moment a lot more than the image itself, and the image brings me back to the moment every time. I had been preparing this location for years and was thrilled to finally be able to capture the image that I wanted."

A black and white photo of the Getty Centre in Los Angeles, by Nick De Clercq
Curves - Getty Center - Los Angeles, USA

PPOC 2017 Image Salon - Merit

"This location was one of my must-see architectural locations and I wandered for hours through all of the areas and angles."

An interior real estate photo showing a beautiful living room in a villa by Nova Scotia photographer Nick De Clercq
Living room villa V.A. - Belgium

AWARD: FEP Students and Young Photographer Gold Award Award Single Image & FEP Students and Young Photographer Bronze Camera Award (series of 3 photos)

"This image means a turning point for me. It was one of my first big assignments and I only had 1 hour to photograph this home of over 1000 square meters. This image is also the first image that won an award for me and was part of a series of photos that won me third place among Students and Young Photographers with the FEP."

An architectural photo showing the interior of a church in Paris, by Nick De Clercq
Restored Glory - Paris, France

AWARD: PPOC 2019 Image Salon - Accepted

"After going to Paris to stroll through the street and admire the architecture since I was a kid I had never noticed this church. Because the church was being renovated I was intrigued to go in and see it, luckily a portion that has just been restored when I walked by and opened up that same week. I was really surprised at the beauty that was hidden within the church that is very dark and grey on the outside."

Photo of a mansion in Belgium by Nova Scotia Real Estate photographer, Nick De Clercq
Mansion W. - Belgium

"Beautiful mansion from 1660 formerly owned by the Markies (Marquis) de Rodes. I have always enjoyed architecture through time and love capturing properties like this."

An Architectural interior photo of a Wabi-Sabi kitchen by photographer Nick De Clercq
Wabi-Sabi Kitchen - Belgium

"This property was an absolute honour to photograph. It is one of the homes designed by late architect Eddy Francois in one of his favourite styles: Wabi-Sabi. This was honestly one of the most special designs that I've had the opportunity to photograph. The interior and exterior flow perfectly into one another, which is largely due to the choice of materials. The woods, the terracotta floor, the brick as well as the pigmented concrete copy the colour of the trees and are in balance with the white walls and floors, which enhance the play of light and shadow in the wooded area. The beautiful woodwork seems to make the building blend into the trees, and the floor-to-ceiling windows make the outside trees look like part of the interior. The interior design blends into the architecture, and the architecture blends into the surroundings. This vision of architecture reflects the way of living where man is close to nature: nature teaches us the beauty of the weathered, to appreciate the imperfect and asymmetric."

A photo of a castle with pillars reflecting in a lake, by Nick De Clercq
Castle Crabbenburg - Belgium

AWARD: FEP Students and Young Photographer Bronze Camera Award (series of 3 photos)

"This was also a pleasure, to be able to photograph a heritage property near my hometown of Ghent, Belgium. These photos were later published in a catalogue created by the city and Belgian Heritage association."

Shauna Madden from our social media team asked Nick some more questions:

We've been seeing some impressive photos from our featured photographer, Nick DeClercq, for a few weeks now. His bio is available on the PPOC regional website, but here are a few impromptu questions he graciously agreed to answer.
Nick has a very interesting background. He was born in Belgium and also calls Nova Scotia home. He holds professional designations in three different professional photography organizations.


1. What is your PPOC designation/accreditations?
I hold an accreditation with the PPOC in Architecture and Travel Illustration.


2. How many years have you been a member of the PPOC?
Six years. I became a member of the PPOC in 2015.


3. Why did you become a PPOC member?
I had plans of spending a lot more time in Canada and eventually moving to NS in the mid-to-long term. I already was an accredited professional photographer in Belgium with the Belgian federation as well as held a “Qualified European Professional Photographer” designation in Architecture with the Federation of European Photographers (FEP). So, it seemed logical to me that if I was going to move somewhere I had to look into the local/national federation and get my accreditations with them as well. Because for me accreditations & designations are a quality label for customers.


4. What do you like most about the PPOC?
Being a member of 3 federations I can compare them a bit. All have their advantages and disadvantages. When it comes to feeling a member of an association / photography family, the PPOC is by far the best, but this probably has as much to do with the Canadian mentality as with the association itself. The points system was new to me, and the 2 other associations do not have this. This was also a bit difficult for me to grasp in the beginning and the way photos are judged is also different then in Europe. The concept of getting an accreditation is about the same but I do like the designations that exist with the PPOC, it gives you extra goals to continue learning and go out of your comfort zone for a new accreditation or participating in the image salon.


5. Did you always want to be a photographer?
No, I had never planned on being a photographer professionally. I kind of rolled into it. I have always had a love for architecture and nature and loved photographing it when traveling. It just all clicked, no pun intended, when I went to Rome almost 11 years ago and couldn’t stop taking photos of buildings, monuments, streets, and at the same time the business that I did all of the marketing for was looking for a new photographer to take real estate photos.

          
6. What do you photograph for fun?
I have always enjoyed travelling and that is also when I have the most fun photographing. Capturing landscapes, cityscapes, and architecture without any deadline to meet. For me, it is the memory and experience that I am trying to capture, a photo that takes me back to the location every time I look at it.


7. What type of camera do you use, Canon, Nikon, etc.?
I have been using Canon since I started professionally and am currently using a Canon 5D IV for most jobs in combination with my Canon 5DsR for some more specific assignments.


8. What motivated you to photograph real estate and architecture?
As mentioned above, a lucky turn of events. The business that I was a part of needed a new photographer for real estate and I had always photographed architecture/buildings for fun on travels and in my hometown, so I was asked if I could do it and I decided to give it a go. But going from doing it for that business to offering it to others took some more time. I joined Flickr forums to get critiqued/feedback and eventually decided to try and get accredited in Belgium in 2012. I got my accreditation but still wasn’t convinced that I was good enough and entered 3 images on a whim for the FEP’s Students and Young Photographers competition and won a Gold Award Single Image, a Bronze Award Single Image and a Bronze Camera Award. Later that year I also tried getting the “European Photographer”-qualification (EP) which I received as well. The next year I entered for the “Qualified European Professional Photographer”-designation (QEP) in Architecture and received that one as well as the youngest Belgian to ever receive a QEP-designation in any category and the second youngest European. It was only after my accreditation in Belgium in combination with the EP with the FEP that I thought I was good enough to offer my work to others. After winning those awards with the FEP, and whilst preparing my QEP-designation entry, was also the time when I rebranded to my personal name and changed my focus/niche to higher-end real estate, architectural & interior photography.


9. Do you have any advice for someone who would like to do that type of photography?
I made a lot of mistakes when I started out, and that was great to learn from but also brought big frustrations. Looking back, I think these would be the points that I needed to think about beforehand:


• Firstly, figure out what you want to do in photography first. You can evolve into other fields, but what is the reason you are getting into photography? What do you love photographing on your own time? For example, do you want to pose things/people/food and have control over lighting? Or do you prefer squeezing into corners and/or strange places, travel (hike, climb, walk, commute) to specific locations to capture immovable objects and have little control over the lighting and potentially not even being able to capture what you had in mind? If you’re not sure, try a couple of things and see what you spend more time on perfecting, editing, where the time seems to pass by too quickly and which type of photography you hope is over quickly.


• Secondly, when you have a grasp on what it is you love to photograph deep dive into everything about it. Research equipment, methods of editing, examples, try it, fail at it, try again and you will find your style. Probably not the style or method you will continue forever but your launchpad/solid base to start from. My best decision for this was joining a specific Flickr forum dedicated to real estate photography. I still remember my first post being torn apart by Scott Hargis (scotthargisphoto.com) and Mike Kelley (mpkelley.com). I learned a lot from their criticism and uploaded new photos and the first to comment and highlight what was good in my photos were Scott Hargis and Mike Kelley. To this day I am so grateful for them taking the time to critique and give feedback on photos of a stranger.


• Thirdly: Know your worth. For me, photographing/capturing immovable objects and me squeezing my 6’3” body in way to small corners, traveling down narrow pathways or trails was what I loved to do to be able to capture the image that I had in mind. Therefore architecture/real estate photography was more suited for me. In architectural photography there are also variations: work for real estate agents, architects, magazines, etc. The time you have available to turn around photos and the expectations are different as well which means that not only do you have to be prepared but also be able to handle the workload and/or quality standard for every job. I am not a fan of doing work for free but when you decide to do real estate photography quantity does help. So instead of offering free work and reducing your value towards the future, ask friends and family to photograph their house, or a couple of rooms, time yourself and repeat. It might be a bit different in Belgium (& Europe) vs Canada, but I started out photographing for real estate agents and almost lost my love of photography because of the type of buildings I needed to photograph and the little time available to photograph and edit the photos. I did learn a lot, but it was only when I started getting accreditations, I understood my value and changed my pricing accordingly. I focused more on high-end real estate and loved what I did again. Yes, I do have fewer assignments, but I love what I do again, I love the buildings/architecture I get to photograph most of the time, I get more time per assignment and my business is more profitable now than before.


10. Do you have a goal that you haven't achieved yet or what do you see in the future for yourself?
My plans and goals had to adapt a lot these past years due to some setbacks both personal and work related and were even further delayed due to Covid-19.
In the short term I hope to be travelling again, I have been stuck in the same place for too long and my list of must-go destinations has only gotten longer during this lockdown.
For the long term I hope to continue improving my travel photography and further expand that side of my business as it allows me to keep exploring and discover new locations and is what I started photographing originally.

 

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