Herbert Schröer is a (mobile) photographer residing in the city of Delft in The Netherlands. Besides his beautiful photography work, he's also a Master student in Transport Engineering and Logistics at Delft University of Technology. Herbert’s style is diverse, but almost always contains a sense of depth and calmness. In general his photography is not about small details, but about the bigger picture which is represented stunningly on his website.
1. I assume all of us go through that initial awkward stage of identifying what type of photographer we want to be. Was this the case for you? How did you involvement with the craft begin and how long after until you knew what you wanted to focus on and what you didn’t?
I haven’t been a photographer for a very long time yet. I started to gain an interest in photography thanks to Instagram, with which I started out in April 2011. Before that time I had no clue about photography or photo editing and I didn’t even own a camera. Instagram, and especially the people I met there, inspired me to learn and made me discover that I love taking photos and that I have talent for it.
I started out taking photos with just my iPhone because that was the only camera I had. I bought my first DSLR in January 2012. In the beginning of my Instagram period I mainly photographed abstract patterns and architecture, but later I found out that my passion is more in nature and landscape photography. I’m now also trying to get more people in my shots. I think I would like to be a travel photographer, but basically I’m still trying to figure out what kind of photographer I want to be.
2. You have a remarkably large following on Instagram and with good reason. With regards to the social platform, there are those who condemn it because it’s potentially “ruining” photography and there are those who dived head first into it but what’s your take on it and how much of an impact has it had on you as a photographer? Have there been opportunities that would have not risen had it not been for the service?
Well, it’s very simple; without social media I wouldn’t have been a photographer. I would probably still be clueless about photography and I would’ve missed all those amazing things I’ve been able to do because of it, mainly over the past year.
Thanks to Instagram I’ve been able to travel to, and photograph, various places in the world, and I’ve made some deals for selling my iPhone photos. I also started working for a Dutch city marketing company called SeeMyCity. Together with 4 other Instagrammers we promote cities through mobile photography and social media. Not only by taking photos, but also by giving mobile photography workshops and organizing competitions and exhibitions. We’ve done projects in Almere (The Netherlands), Oslo (Norway), Leuven (Belgium), and we’re now working on our biggest project yet in Doha (Qatar).
Lately I’ve also been noticing more interest in my DSLR work. Even the lead singer of one of my favorite bands (Efterklang) has bought 4 of my photos for in their studio. He found my website/Tumblr after I had a conversation with someone about his latest album on Twitter.
3. I’m a huge proponent of personal projects. Have you had an opportunity to incorporate a few into your schedule or is there anything that you wish to accomplish in the near future as a way to highlight and document other interest you may have?
Since I’m not a professional photographer (yet), I don’t really have any photography projects. I just photograph whatever I like, wherever I go, so basically all my photo series are personal projects. The weird thing is that when I do a project for SeeMyCity, I'm only paid for the photos I take with my iPhone and not for the ones I take with my DSLR.
Althought a project I would love to do is to travel around and photograph Iceland. I’ve been wanting to go there ever since I saw the music documentary Heima by one of my all-time favorite bands: Sigur Rós. Unfortunately Iceland is quite expensive and I’m a student living off a student loan, so I haven’t been able to do this yet. I was almost able to realize this project when I was chosen as one of the 3 finalists for Passion Passport’s Bucket List Initiative. They would’ve provided me with funds to make this trip. In return I would document my trip on Instagram and on their website. It would've been an amazing opportunity. Unfortunately I lost the final voting round and ended up in second place.
4. Tell me about your gear. You know very well and I can’t walk away without asking you what you shoot with and how you feel it helps you do your most creative work.
I started taking photos with an iPhone 4, and I still take most of my photos with my current mobile phone: the iPhone 5. My DSLR is a Nikon D5100. I’ve got 3 lenses for it: a Nikon 18-70mm, a Nikon 55-200mm, and a Nikon 35mm 1.8. Overall I use the 18-70mm the most, but recently I’ve been using the 35mm a lot more.
When I bought my first DSLR I didn’t really know why I would need anything better, except for image quality, but now 1.5 years later I’m starting to discover the limitations of my device. As soon as I have the money for it (I’m a last year’s Master student in Transport Engineering and Logistics), I’m going to have to go full frame.
5. It seems to be the one questions that consistently puts photographers on the spot but share with us one of your most memorable photographs along with a backstory on it.
In June 2012 I was invited to join the “Catalunya Experience” as an Instagrammer. We traveled across Catalonia (Spain) for 4 days to Instagram the country. Although I don’t use it for Instagram, I also took my DSLR with me. On one morning at sunrise we made a balloon ride. It’s still one of the most magical experiences of my life. The photo shows the shadow of the balloon we were in on the forest below.
Before this trip I only knew how to edit photos on my iPhone, but afterwards I decided to buy Lightroom and the amazing VSCO Film filters. This is the first ever photo I edited on something else than my iPhone, and the very first photo that’s on my website that I also started after this trip: herbertschroer.com
To read up more on other photographers in the Spotlight Series, check out the dedicated page.