Liam Van Den Berk
Progear Photographer of the Month Liam vandenberk is a traveling photographer and videographer with an amazing cinematic vision.
Hailing from the beautifully picturesque Hawkes Bay Liam had a great introduction into photographing the best nature has to offer. Liam has worked with some huge local and international clients including Samsung, Hallenstein Brothers, Harley Davidson and Mercedes Benz.
We caught up with Liam to find out more about how he got into the photography game.
Tell us a bit about yourself, how you got started in photography and what you like to shoot.
I'm a 23-Year-old Freelance Videographer & Photographer, Who started shooting portraiture as a hobby and as I slowly learned about the basic camera functions I had the opportunity to progress into the cinematography side of things with the help of youtube #2019.
There’s a recurring focus on travel, lifestyle and nature in your work. Tell us about what attracts you to these things and how that relates to both your personal and commercial work.
Both commercial work and hobby projects are mostly travel-related or alongside New Zealand brands, I have been working inside this space because I fell a heap better getting out and about in nature, you'll often find me out on hikes with my buddies and side missions to local coastlines.
You feature many picturesque places in much of your work. Can you explain your approach to photographing these places and how they fit with your photographic philosophy.
I guess the main reason I have had the chance to shoot so many beautiful locations is the fact that I was brought up in Hawkes Bay. This gave me solid arsenal of waterfalls, Seascapes, mountains, caves and all within a 2hr drive, I think this is a massive advantage to a photographer or an artist in a whole.
You shoot both people and places. What are the different head spaces that apply to the way you photograph one or the other both technically and spiritually?
Both People and places are very different in shape but I feel as if you look at them in the right context and whether they both come under the same mood which then leads to a feeling I guess, that's just my personal opinion. When it comes to technical specs, I would shoot a landscape with a drone or 24-70mm and shoot multiple photos and stitch them in post to get the highest res possible. For portraiture I will shoot no where past F5 or any other range below with a quick lens because 9/10 I will only shoot in low light or overcast.
One of the noticeable ingredients in your work is your use of grading. What makes you choose a certain aesthetic over another and talk about your perceptions of colour.
To tell the truth my color grading changes all the time, but recently I have aimed for muted colors, I collect a lot of antiques, so I guess I like the old tattered vibes with a magical twist.
You do a lot of video along with your still work. How do you keep your colour and style aesthetic flowing through in motion?
When It comes to video I aim to shoot in certain lights, that persuade a certain mood and colour space mostly muted tones and potentially a red here and there, I'm still learning a lot and hopefully getting a cinema cam will help with the grading process.
On the travel tip, any interesting stories photographing abroad?
One travel trip I would take everywhere with me, Take your self and enjoy what cultures are out there, but make sure you respect the environment and take memories home with you. I would say Bali would have been the eye-opener, I would highly recommend going there, it gives you the perfect taste of beauty and allows you to practice your skill.
You’ve worked with various local and international brands. What are the best points of advice you could give to young photographers looking to break into the commercial world?
When it comes to trying to get into anything commercial related, there is a lot of competition in the world, and I think if you can prove to one person that your worth it, then your that's a steady start, but the best way I found was to have a show-reel, that's how I got my first job working for a design agency.
What are some of the visual sacrifices you make in working with commercial clients?
When it comes to commercial clients, 9 times out of 10 they'll want that beautiful cinematic shot hot-swapped for there Product/item to be in there, I don't generally like doing this, but from their point of view I guess it looks good haha! As long as they are happy then I guess that's the main thing.
How important is social media and how does it affect the way you create?
Social media is one of the most important aspects whether u are a freelancer like my self or blockbuster movie maker, it allows you to put photographs and videos out to large crowds and in return receive positive feedback or negative that allows you to better your self in the next lot of content you release, and or make new friends or clients from the positive side of things.
Which part of photography do you like best ie. Shooting, editing or something else?
I like researching the most, by that I mean watching movies and youtube and also watching others in the real world out and about filming and photographing any and everything, I would highly recommend the new joker movie, I think this is the best film to date above Shawshank redemption. But next to the research, I definitely love to shoot and edit every aspect I like about the process at hand.
What things do you do outside of photography that informs your creativity?
Outside of photography/videography things that spark my creativity are things like watching movies and going out into the wild both of these are when moments are in a creative mindset, just great head clearers as a whole.
What’s your dream project?
My dream project would be to one day direct/produce my own movie, I know I'm nowhere near this, but all I can do is try my best day by day at this stage of my journey.
Gear Talk…What are you shooting with and why?
I currently am shooting with the 1DXM2 and my go-to lens is the 24-70mm MK2 and 70-200 MK2 Canon, with this set up it means 90% of my shots are sharp and I have a versatility of multiple lens lengths without having such heavy kit, I find this to be super important for run and gun situations and on the road, and the reason I have the 1DXM2 is because of the amazing color space canon has and the robust frame that will take any weather or fall, and I'm a lover of the 100fps for video, it milks every shot and just gives the viewer so much more time to take it in. Alongside that the 4k50fps is perfect for commercial work because you can crop in and keep a sharp image, the main reason I purchased this camera was that you have the best of both worlds for video and photo.
Find more of Liam's work: