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Leentje Schoofs, 27 years young, always needed something creative in her life in order to feel happy. When she was 5, she began to play the violin, at the age of 8 she also learned how to play the piano. She also took drawing classes. Many years later, after finishing university with both violin and piano degrees, she found a new way to express her creativity, hiding behind her camera. She takes pictures during the day, and looks at them at night.

When and how did you become interested in Photography?

In 2007 I planned a 3 month trip to Australia. That was when I bought my first bridge camera. I learned how to play with shutter speed, diafragma and iso values. One and a half year later, I purchased my first DSLR, and never stopped taking pictures.

What gear do you mainly shoot with?

I began with a 1000D, back in 2009. I used this camera until March this year. Then, the time was right to upgrade to a Canon 5DmarkII, which I use with the 50mm f/1.4, 85mm f/1.8 and 24-70 f/2.8 L. I also frequently use a 5 in 1 reflector, and, only when necessary, a speedlite 580 EXII. I’m in love with natural light.

What is your #1 source of inspiration?

Dreams, fairy tales and nightmares. Butterflies and flowers. I have so many fairytale concepts in my head, which I really want to capture one day. I always write them down. The title of the concept is enough for me to remember the images in my head.

Many times photographers find themselves with a full schedule of paying gigs, ending up with little time for doing the work they truly love. Do you struggle with finding time for your personal work?

I really try to make time for my personal work. Once every few weeks I try to do personal work, where I always search the right model and makeup artist for. This personal work is a series of images which are very detailed in my head. It’s sometimes a little bit hard to describe and explain to the other members of the team which particular image I have in mind, but so far, I always managed to get the sort of picture series I really wanted.

What is your all time favorite genre to shoot (portraiture, conceptual, documentary, commercial, etc..)?

I get the most satisfaction shooting personal conceptual portraiture work, but I also love to shoot weddings, because all those happy faces make me fly through the day, although all my gear sometimes is so heavy to carry with me 🙂

Do you have any upcoming shows or events you want our readers to know about?

I was published twice in a Dutch Photography Magazine. I’m always trying to get noticed on several online photography platforms, and got a few online publications as well, but so far, no big shows or events for me… yet. But I’m positive.

What is the one thing you feel makes your style or your work unique?

My photography is unique in its own style I think. I don’t shoot ‘normal portraits’, but always try to include some surreal, dreamy concept in my work. Of course, a lot of post processing is involved in my style of photography. Every image is edited in my particular color pallet (hence my love for green-blue colors), which makes it very recognizable. I also work with a lot of brushes and textures in post processing, which is the best for adding these little details in the picture.

if you could photograph anyone, (past/present/future), who would it be and why?

I don’t search too far. Here in Belgium we have a young but very talented young singer, Selah Sue. Her appearance is so charming, and her songs so beautiful… I sent an email to her management team, but no response so far, haha. I keep on trying, though 🙂

what’s your dream photo field trip?

I would love to have the possibility to work with top models and makeup artists in a natural setting like the desert at sunset, a dangerous mountain in the snow or on a yacht next to some beautiful coastlines. Dreams like that…

what’s your post production process?

I usually load all pictures in Lightroom, where I give a score to the best pictures. Then I do some basic processing in LR, color enhancements, split toning, vignetting, cropping… When the photo needs additional touch-up or adding textures or brushes, I load them into Photoshop. In photoshop, I usually use the curves, levels, and the other color tools, I use tools to soften skin, I work with different layers to make the eyes pop, and I also use the gradient tool quite a lot.

if you had unlimited resources to purchase any type of camera, what would it be and why?

I already have the camera I want, I don’t need another one. I only dream of some more lenses, like the 70-200L II, the 85mm f/1.2L and some more prime lenses… so I am saving my money….

who are your favorite photographers and why?

For landscape photography: Jorinde van Ringen. Her use of ND filters to shoot long exposures is amazing. For conceptual photography: Rosie Hardy, Kane Longden, Brooke Shaden
For art and conceptual dreamy photography: definitely the Belgian Selina de Maeyer. All, young people with a great sense for creativity!

what has been the shining moment of your career thus far?

A couple of months ago I was searching for models. The months before, I just asked a friend to model for me, but I wanted to contact some semi-professional models. I sent emails to multiple girls, with the question if they wanted to work with me to expand our portfolios. I also asked Steffi de Greve (a beautiful Belgian model). She didn’t answer, probably because my portfolio wasn’t yet good enough. A couple of months later, she contacted me. I was euphoric, we did a shoot, and that was the best shoot I’ve done so far!
Also, a friend of me asked to shoot her wedding. I told her ‘beware, I’ve never shot a wedding before’. She had faith in me, and began to create a lot of publicity for me on a Belgian wedding forum. Thanks to her, my summer and already a part of next year’s summer is fully booked with weddings!

do you have any tips/tricks or advice for amateur photo nerds who are looking to shoot full time or students who are just starting out?

I learned photography all by myself. Trial and error. I was the model for myself, I started a self portrait challenge (365 project), and made a picture of myself every single day, 170 days in a row. Then I was sick of making pictures of myself.
But I knew my camera, I learned a lot about post processing as well. And I felt confident enough to photograph not only myself, but also models. So… practice practice practice. If you don’t want to take self portraits, then go out as an assistant or student with a (semi)pro photographer. Use your eyes and constantly ask questions. That’s the best way to learn photography in my opinion.

what’s the soundtrack to your life and/or your favorite music to listen to while editing?

I’m a big fan of music, all kinds, but usually, when I edit pictures, I need silence. I also need to switch off Safari (Internet), cause I’m constantly distracted. My favorite music artists right now are Selah Sue, Arsenal, Absynth Minded (All Belgian btw), but also Robyn, and some other poppy-dance artists.

what’s your favorite hang (when shooting or not)?

In my free time, I love to sport (running, cycling, watersports), or walk in the fields, drink something in town… I really like to be outdoors. Always.

best chow (meal/snack) to get you ready for a shoot? or best way to celebrate a brilliant capture?

When I do a personal portfolio shoot, I always take all kind of pastries and sweet cookies for the team. I’m not such a big eater. I can shoot for hours without feeling hungry at all. But after a shoot, I only want junkfoooooooooooood…

will you share with us one of your favorite shots?

This is a shot from my most recent portfolio shoot “the girl who lived in her dreams” with the Belgian blond goddess 😉 Steffi de Greve. It was a concept I had in my mind for ages. She was the perfect model for this shoot. Sweet and innocent. But she can really handle all types of shoots!

your favorite photo by another photographer?

As I am a big fan of the Belgian photographer Selina De Maeyer, I think this is one of her best shots:

©Selina De Maeyer

I really adore her sense for creativity. It’s like she is constantly dreaming. And her talent for post processing is beyond unbelievable. I admire her work so much I can stare for minutes to one single photo.

has your passion for photography changed at all since turning “pro”?

No, it has even become bigger. It only lacks time now to accomplish my dream photography concepts, but sometimes, the passion for photography (doing my personal work) has priority on earning money with commissioned work. Like that, I have joy, every time I hold my camera…

do you have a favorite / lucky item of clothing, outfit or uniform that you like to wear when shooting an important assignment or project?

Even when shooting, I like to be dressed girly… an easy dress with little pockets (for all my little stuff like a lens cap or spare battery or CF card), with a legging, and ballerinas. On the other hand, if you ask a model to do not-so-easy-things, like, going into a muddy pool, sit unbalanced on a tree, stuff like that, I feel that you, as a photographer always have to demonstrate yourself. I’ve gone into muddy pools, knee deep, climbed into trees, almost lost a flipflop in a river, because I want my models to feel appreciated. That being said…I always keep spare clothes in my car 🙂

are you a photography nerd or a camera gangsta?

i’m not a nerd at all I think. But no camera gangsta either… just a canoncameragirl 🙂

what’s your sign? (we’re conducting a poll)

I’m a very dangerous scorpio!

who would you like to see interviewed by photopolus next?

I like to give talented photography beginners a chance. I would like to know more from Bella Kotak. She is a young English (I think) girl, who’s work inspires me a lot as well! Too much talent in the world 🙂


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