The world has so much to offer and not always just at faraway places. Simone, a lovely member of our Instagrammers community and PICKMOTION family, has found her way of telling compelling visual stories that you can find everywhere. You just need to look. We are really happy that she shared some insights on how she became a photographer and what inspires her work. Enjoy our interview with this talented photographer and learn more about the beauty of her art.
Could you give us an introduction of first of all who you are, where you come from and where you are living now? A little bit of your personal background.
I’m Simone Wittgen, I live in the Netherlands, in the south, in a small village surrounded by forests near the famous design city Eindhoven and the German and Belgian border. I am married and the lucky mom of two teenage sons and a Vizsla dog (@diaryofavizsla).
What do you do for a living? How did you get into that specific field and how does it influence or relate to your photography?
Until ten years ago I worked as a Marketing and Communications Manager at big companies in telecommunications and insurance. After that, I started as a freelance Communications Consultant to get more freedom and space in my daily life. I’ve always loved it to be creative and tell stories, both with pictures and words. So it’s not very strange that my work moved from consultancy about how to communicate as a company to communicating with photos and text – the more practical creative side of communications. So now I’m working part-time as a consultant (with a focus on Social Media) and part-time as a (travel) photographer and blogger. Last February I won the Columbus award for Travelinfluencer of the Year. A great honour and appreciation of my work.
My mission is to show how beautiful our world is and that beauty and tranquillity can be found everywhere, also in our immediate surroundings. You don’t have to cross the border or fly to another continent to find that beauty and get a sense of discovering and travelling (although a change of scenery can, of course, be very inspiring, I will not deny that).
How did you start your photography career? How did your own personal style evolve over the years?
After I quit my corporate career I took photography and photoshop courses to give space to my creative side and learn more about the technical part of photography and editing. In 2014 I joined Instagram and posted my photos just for fun and to get feedback on my efforts. Somehow my account got noticed by Instagram and I became a suggested user. That encouraged me to push myself to get better. At the beginning I was mainly shooting what most IGers were shooting, the gram trends so to say. But now I’m only shooting and posting what makes my heart tick faster: coastal, rural and urban calm-spots. In nature and in rural areas. My personal style can be best described as ‘serene’, ‘feminine’ and with the main attention for light.
What inspires you and why?
A lot of things inspire me: photos in magazines and on Instagram, song lyrics, paintings, a colour, weather conditions, an empty space, reflections in water, the sea, the moon… All things that evoke a certain kind of emotion, mostly the feeling of being thankful to live and just to be in the moment.
Your pictures are very atmospheric and well-composed – how did you develop this style?
In regard to the composition I use the 1/3 rule a lot or I just put the subject in the exact centre of an image. For the rest of my style, I haven’t been very conscious of developing it. I just followed my instincts. I love soft and light colours. So these dominate my feed. Plus I do not like to distract the eye from the main subject so I try to delete all things that could draw the attention off the main subject. Simplicity rules.
You seem to have travelled a lot for your images, it’s very amazing! What would be one (or a few) of the most impressive or inspiring things you have encountered on these trips?
For me, the most special moments and places while travelling are the moments that were serene and the places I didn’t expect to see. Like discovering the coral pink sand dunes in Utah underneath an epic sky and being there all alone with just my family and friends. Or canoeing on a calm foggy lake in the Rocky Mountains, surrounded by drifting pelicans. Or discovering the biggest sandy plain of Northern Europe, Vliehors, on Dutch Wadden island Vlieland, which I didn’t know it exists before this unexpected discovery… Or watching the sunrise on tiny Harbour Island – Bahamas and watching a shark swim by. Being one with nature is what makes me intensely happy!
How do you feel about the IG-fanbase / community you built up? Do you often connect with other IGers? Do you get suggestions or inspiration from them? Any collaborations coming out of it?
I’m very grateful for the platform and my ‘fanbase’, although the numbers are not that important for me. The connection is! I love to connect and communicate with people and I met quite a lot of IG-friends in- and outside the Netherlands. All kind of people with different ages, backgrounds, nationalities, talents… who I wouldn’t have met without the medium. These connections have enlarged my world and changed my perspective on the world. Sometimes we exchange tips or locations of beautiful spots but most of the time we connect on a non-professional personal basis.
In recent years I collaborated with various tourism organizations and brands. And I wrote and made pictures for a few magazines.
Do you have a favourite photograph that you created and what is the story behind it?
That’s a difficult question! Let me think. That must be two of the sole pictures on my feed that I snapped with my phone, how ironic. I was standing on the pier in Scheveningen and made pictures with my camera of all kind of drone-like scenes of the little figures (people) on the beach walking, playing in the sand, staring at the waves. I just put away my gear in my camera bag. ready to leave, when suddenly a mother and her child, walking hand in hand together through the surf caught my eye. They were quite distant from me but I was able to zoom in a little with my mobile phone and pressed the button several times. There were two shots in which mother and child seem to be embraced lovingly by the rolling waves. Like the waves don’t want to harm them and protect them on the contrary. Can you imagine how happy I was that I grabbed my phone just in time and pressed the button on this exact moment? Lucky shots but two of my most liked pictures. Note: My most liked pictures are not always my personal favourites but the number of likes on these two I understand fully. Here is one of the two photos.
Do you by yourself still send greeting cards?
Now more than ever, during this Corona crisis. I weekly send postcards to my parents and my mother-in-law for example. A nurse from the elderly home my mother-in-law lives in told me that bringing the mail to the residents is the most cheerful moment of the day.
Did you know Pickmotion before we started our collaboration? if yes, how you became aware of us?
I can not recall that exactly but I might have seen your account before we started to collaborate. I’m not sure. I love the bright, happy and original cards you create with IGers’ images of beautiful moments.
Could you give us some of your personal favourite accounts?
It’s so hard to choose. There are so many accounts that I love. Some for the photos or the brilliant witty captions, others for the person behind the account, the connection… But let’s give it a try and focus on photography. My absolute favourite account is @helloemilie. She’s an Instagram phenomenon. The mood of her photos is so dreamy and her landscape shots are mesmerizing and make you feel so small. Plus I love her focus on making us aware how beautiful, precious and vulnerable planet earth is. Other really lovely accounts are @vhgreet, @shineonyoucraydiamond, @hannahargyle, @pie_aerts, @humphreyandgrace, and @anu_vee.
Any other information or stories you’d like to share with us? Please feel free!
Thanks for selecting my pictures for your cards and for this interview! Let’s spread the happy vibe of beautiful moments together.