The Girl Next Door
The Netherlands may not be the first geographical location which comes to mind when you’re thinking about fashion photography. You also might not think a person shooting for only three years, and without formal training of any kind, would be a highly competent fashion, portrait, and commercial photographer.
Marije Weterings will make you rethink both of those assumptions. Fluent in Dutch, French, German, and English, Weterings is a photographic autodidact. “I was in college for a bachelor in business intelligence—getting information out of computer systems,” she says. “I worked in I.T. for a couple of years, and then I got a — not a burnout but a bore out — I was bored in my work.” Borrowing a camera and shooting photos superior to the other people she was shooting with was the wake-up call she needed. She soon got a camera of her own, and began a new career.
Drawn to portraiture from the start, Weterings feels it was only natural she wanted to take photos of people. “I just asked a girl if I could take pictures of her and she loved the pictures and that’s what got everything started,” she says. “She was not even a model. She was just a girl next door.”
Whether it’s the girl next door or a professional model, Weterings sees the big picture, in its entirety. By selecting not only her models and locations, she also styles both wardrobe and gives her makeup artists direction. “Most of the time I have a mood board and a vision,” she says. “I try to combine everything so the styling and the makeup all matches with each other.” In this way, Weterings’ portraits are largely centered and unified by a strong color palette. Standout colors are rarely garish, and only call attention to themselves when they need to make a dramatic statement. Her portraits are essentially modern, beautifully coalesced paintings. Weterings just happens to use a digital camera instead of a brush and canvas.
Some of Weterings’ models are beauty pageant contestants. Earlier this year she was in Berlin for Fashion Week where she shot Miss Universe Germany, Valerie Bystritskala. She’s also recently worked with Miss Universe Netherlands, Kelly Weekers. “I consider myself a glamour photographer for the pageants. They need glamour photography,” Weterings explains. She cites Richard Avedon and Helmut Newton as photographers influencing her. Denise Boomkens, a Dutch model turned photographer, and Ebo Fraterman have also inspired her work.
One of the most remarkable things about Weterings is her path to professional success which started that first day she took some portraits with a borrowed camera. She has never assisted a more-established photographer. She didn’t go back to college for another degree. When asked if she got her photographic knowledge via books, her answer is quick and unfailing. “No, Google,” she says.
Weterings purchased a Canon EOS 5D Mark II and Elinchrom lighting gear. With the help of Google searches and publicly-available resources on the Internet, she taught herself a completely new art and profession. A Sekonic L-758DR is what Weterings uses to achieve some of her more interesting shots. “I want to show emotions and feelings. The problem with one of my techniques is I overexpose, so I shoot the Elinchrom at full power—400 watt-seconds.” This particular technique involves her shooting at f/16. An example is the woman in the red dress below. Taken at about 3:15 in the afternoon, she achieves a completely unexpected noir effect. “It’s all about lighting, and you can’t do that without the light meter,” she adds.