Instagram has quite the photographic powerhouse brewing in the Netherlands. Mechanical engineer student Herbert Schoer is putting his Dutch country on the IG radar. Equipped with a storytelling eye, an array of honest editing styles, and an occasional whim of inventiveness, Schoer is sharing gorgeous photography everyday. Pulling inspiration from an intense music passion, — a single note on the piano can strum up discovery — he has been busily creating images on IG for over two years. Some of his best imagery comes from the coldest of days, where he braves the icy temps and showcases the snowy roads and trees of his home country. It’s easy to admire his use of the color white, because he captures it so accurately. Finally, his winning invention is the blended #fromwhereistand creations, where he combines two photos into a perspective paradox. He can manipulate the ground he walks on and can turns steps into stratospheres. In his world, why shouldn’t you be able to stand on the clouds? He has planted himself firmly on a platform reserved for only those with super talent. This is Herbert Schroer, and he’s an Instagram legend.
Handpicked Questions for @herbertschoer:
What color would you say you photograph the most?
I don’t think I really have one color that defines my photography. I use whatever colors the world has to offer me at the time being. Especially in my landscape photography that changes with the season; in spring and summer that means a lot of green, in autumn a lot of brownish colors, and at the moment now my country is covered in snow it’s mostly white. I like my colors to be deep and not too saturated.
What remains the biggest challenge when shooting with your phone?
Mainly low light situations. It’s already become less of a problem since I recently switched from an iPhone 4 to an iPhone 5, but it’s definitely still a big issue compared to a DSLR.
You have a deep appreciation for music…does that effect the mood of your photography? Do your photographs ever dictate your choice of music?
I think it goes both ways, but they’re also strongly coupled to my personality and my mood. A lot of my favorite music is quite calm, emotional and melancholic, and I think that also reflects in my photography. My photos don’t scream at you, but they have a sense of peace and quiet over them.
An indirect way in which my photos might have an effect on my favorite music is that four of my DSLR photos will soon be hanging in the studio of one of my favorite bands: Efterklang. Who knows, maybe they’ll serve as inspiration for their next album. Casper Clausen (the singer) contact me after he came across my photo blog (on tumblr). According to him my photos are a perfect match with the music of the Irish band “Seti the First”.
What’s the best place to visit (for a photographer) in your home country?
I think the best places are the historic cities like Amsterdam, Utrecht, Leiden, and my own city; Delft. The views these cities offer with their beautiful canals is something you cannot really see anywhere else in the world. Nature in The Netherlands is not that interesting because almost all nature is manmade. Also, most of the country is as flat as a pool table. Although I can imagine that’s interesting to see when you’ve spent your whole life living in the mountains. If you’re into long straight lanes with trees on both sides you’ll love it here.
Has Instagram elevated your creativity?
It definitely has. Before I started using Instagram I knew absolutely nothing about photography. I’ve been creative with music since I was a child (I play saxophone, guitar and piano), but never before in a visual way. Thanks to Instagram and my iPhone 4 I discovered that I like to take photos and that I have talent for it. It pushed me to learn about photography and that led me to buying my first DSLR about a year ago. In June 2012 I started editing with Lightroom and sharing those shots on my tumblr. I’m still learning and I love it!
Are you always in the mind frame to shoot?
Most of the time, especially when I’m on my own. When I’m walking around on my own I’m constantly looking at my environment in possible photos. This is also the time that I’m most productive. When I’m with other people (that are not into photography) I tend to let it slip a little. Although I can still be bummed out later by not taking that one shot that could’ve been good. My photo walks with my brother Frank (@frankisch on Instagram) are also very productive. He’s a perfect model; he’s willing to go stand where I want him to stand. I even created a hashtag for those shots called #frankisch_vs_theworld.
Tell us about yourself.
I’m 25 years old. I grew up in a small town in the middle of The Netherlands called Zoelen, but I now live in the city of Delft where I study at Delft University of Technology. I have a Bachelor’s Degree in mechanical engineering and I’m currently in the final year of my Master in transport engineering and logistics.
How long have you been on Instagram?
Since April 2011, so almost two years now.
How many times a day do you post on instagram?
One to three times, depending on how busy I am and if I’ve got enough good photos left to post.
How are you inspired?
Mainly by music, especially by sound and not so much by lyrics. I can sit behind a piano playing one chord for half an hour straight just because it sounds so good (to me). Besides that also by other photographers, films, nature, everything I see around me…
What do you love most about instagram?
Mostly the community. I’ve met so many great people through this app. Also the fact that you get a daily insight in what goes on in people’s lives all over the world.
How has IG changed your daily life?
It has changed the way I view the world. Everywhere I go now I see colors, lines and light (in square format). It’s also one of the first things I check after I wake up and the last thing I check before I go to bed.
What do you take pictures of?
Mostly landscapes and city photos. Often with small people in it, but rarely more than two. I’m quite fond of symmetry. Sometimes I also like to play around with apps like Image Blender to create some really surreal photos.
How would you describe your style as an IG photographer/artist?
I think my photos almost always have a sense of depth and calmness. I mostly use soft contrasts and slightly desaturated colors.
Who are some of your favorite instagramers?
There are many whose work I love, but to name just a couple of my absolute favorites: @chrisozer, @janske, @finn, @othellonine and @jaredchambers.
How could instagram improve?
The “explore page” is not that great, but the only way to make it more interesting is by having someone curate it. Also a separate newsfeed for mentions to you on other people’s photos would be nice. I miss most of those.
Is there an important photo tool to you that you have yet to see in an app?
Maybe one to manually adjust the camera settings.
What are your 5 favorite photo apps?
Snapseed, VSCO Cam, Afterglow, Image Blender and Pro Camera.
What is the most underrated photo app?
I don’t know if it’s underrated, but it might be one that not a lot of people have heard about: Genius Scan. It’s actually for scanning documents with your camera, but you can use it for perspective corrections. It can be really handy for architecture shots.
What are your feelings on hashtags?
Some are useless, but some are really effective. Tags like #instagram or #iphoneonly won’t do you any good, but I always use hashtags for things like the cities or areas where I’ve taken the photo.
Any instagram pet peeves?
People who see my photos of Delft and mistake it for Amsterdam, even when I give it the caption “This is not in Amsterdam, this is in Delft”. Haha.
How do you choose those you follow?
Mostly based on the consistent quality of their photos. Also, when someone comes across as a friendly person it raises the chances of me following that person.
What do you attribute your follower success to?
I guess mainly by making interesting photos, but also by showing interest in other people’s work. Also participating in contests, especially with @joshjohnson, has paid off. He named the original version of my ski goggles photo the best IG photo of 2011.
Getting your photos on the popular page also has a huge effect. Almost all my photos used to go there from the time that I had about 1000 followers until around the time that Facebook took over Instagram. Now since a few weeks my photos have started appearing there again after half a year of nothing. I’m now gaining about 4 times as much followers a week than I did in the period where my photos didn’t get to the popular page.
How have you benefited from IG?
Thanks to IG I’ve met a lot of great people over the past year. Both virtual as in real life. In my own country, but also abroad.
In June 2012 I was invited to join the Catalunya Experience. With a group of IGers we traveled through Catalunya to “Instagram” the area. We’ve done some amazing things like a hot air balloon ride and a helicopter ride. I’ve also met some great people there like @chrisozer, @riamolde, @kainxs and @philgonzalez.
I’ve also started working in a small company called SeeMyCity with some of my fellow Dutch IGers: @macenzo, @charlietash, @dutchie68 and SeeMyCity founder @mariannehope. We try to promote cities by engaging their citizens to go out and photograph their city with their mobile phones and share this with the rest of the world. We organize things like mobile photography workshops, competitions and exhibitions. We’ve done projects in Almere (The Netherlands) and Oslo (Norway). Our current project is in Leuven (Belgium) and the next one will be in Doha (Qatar). It’s a lot of fun and it allows me to travel to new places. It’s also great to hear all the positive reactions, especially from the people who participated in the workshops.
Do you have any other work we can see?
You can see some of my DSLR photos on herbertschroer.com.
Also if you’re interested in indie music; my brother and I run a music blog where we post youtube and vimeo clips of our favorite music, mostly new stuff. You can find it at neuteredfruits.blogspot.nl. The name might seem strange; it’s from a song by St. Vincent.
Do you want to say anything else?
Everything I know about photography and photo editing right now is something I’ve taught myself. The best way to do this by looking at (and sometimes ask) how your favorite photographers do things, look up the technical stuff on the internet and just keep playing around with editing apps until you eventually discover your own style. I’ve gone through many stages to come where I am right now, and maybe in half a year my process will be completely different again.
What do you do to pay the bills?
I’m more or less living off a student loan, so I’m losing more money than I’m making. I make a bit of money from my work for SeeMyCity and a bit from some work I do for my dad, who own a small metal working company.
How do you spend your leisure time?
A lot of it is based around music. I go to quite a lot of live concerts and spend time playing saxophone, guitar and piano. I also like to go out to take photos and to go running, or a combination of the two. I absolutely love to ski, but unfortunately I only get to do that only one week a year because the mountains are too far away. I used to watch a lot of movies, but photography has taken up a significant part of that slot.
What musicians speak to you?
Sigur Rós, Radiohead, The National, Spinvis, Grizzly Bear, Patrick Watson, Nils Frahm, Sufjan Stevens, Efterklang, Pink Floyd, Tom Waits, Villagers, Alexi Murdoch, The Antlers, Wilco, Neil Young, Other Lives, Damien Jurado, Ólafur Arnalds, Max Richter………..
Share a happy moment from your childhood.
When I was a kid we used to go on skiing holiday to Saas-Fee (Switzerland) each year with a big group of family. Those were some of the best times of my life. I still feel a special connection with that village and I would love to go back there someday soon.
Give us your 6-word memoir.
Bearded Dutch guy bought an iPhone
Part 2 with Herbert will be posted tomorrow, February 5th.9
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