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news & stories

"I'm a photographer"

My name is Remco Merbis. I'm a photographer.

I’m only just getting comfortable saying that. Just about.

I guess anyone who takes pictures, good or bad, is essentially a photographer at the moment of taking the pictures, but before you can call yourself one something else needs to happen.

For me it started with getting positive feedback on my work, being asked to take pictures (for free), then being selected to be featured in a book, have an item in a magazine, slowly leading to paid photography work whilst doing lots of free stuff on the side.

Being paid for photography work makes one a 'professional', strictly speaking, but it certainly does not automatically mean you are any good.

And I suppose I'm not strictly a professional photographer either, as I do a few other things in my day job as well. I'm a creative director foremost, but also a designer, illustrator, animator and filmmaker. And on different professional levels in each of these areas. Photography is only the most recent addition. It just happens to be the one I'm most passionate about. It’s immensely satisfying in the creative sense.

Although I love all aspects of my job, photography gives me the most satisfaction of the mix that makes up my daily work at Pixillion and as an independent image maker (there's a job title if I ever saw one). I'm still learning. I hope that never ends because it's a big part of why I do it, but being able to direct the outcome from start to finish, pre to post production, in a relatively short time span with almost instant gratification gives me a real buzz. I also love the human element of it; the people I meet and my interaction with them, going on location and thus having a break from sitting behind a computer in the studio.

Making films requires being able to spin a lot of plates at the same time. The post production process is long and complicated with lots of additional skills to master. We design and build websites at Pixillion using a user-centred design process that takes months to get through. Having to cater for the many devices that are out there using responsive design means designing sites is a very technical undertaking. It's very gratifying to see one of our sites go live, but it takes long and I'm not hands on enough to enjoy it as much as photography. Having to run the agency as well doesn't allow me enough time to really get stuck in site design and what comes with that. Being able to work on how we tell a brand’s story by incorporating our own assets, those being photography, film, animation or illustration is immensely valuable.

I'm a big advocate of learning on the job. I'm mainly self-taught and challenge myself and my team at the agency to take anything on if it sounds interesting and means we can deepen our knowledge. You do it. You learn it. You keep doing it. And you master it. You just have to invest the time. Being obsessive about it doesn't hurt either.

I’ve not been doing photography for a long time. I can’t believe how lucky I am having found this passion and what it has brought me and the agency. Tomorrow I’ll be entering the world of advertising shooting for a global brand. There’s something exciting around every corner at the moment.