Wouter Van de Voorde, who started off as a painter in Belgium, switched to the medium of photography when he discovered the opportunities it would open up for the introspective and creative communication he had always sought. Now living in Australia, Wouter uses this medium, along with his position as an “outsider”, to discern and describe the idiosyncrasies of the new culture and landscape he has become part of. Find more of his photos at his website, www.woutervandevoorde.com, and his Instagram, @wouter.vandevoorde.
In 2008, I moved from Belgium to Australia to live with Celia, an Australian girl I had met and fell in love with while she was studying in Antwerp in 2006. A decade later, we live together in Canberra with our 2-year-old son, Felix.
For as long as I can remember, making images has been a big part of my life. I trained as a painter and as a printmaker before I met Celia, studying at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Ghent. After my move to this huge island continent, I found that photography was the quickest way to communicate with friends and family to show them my new life on the other side of the world. I started a blog to share my thoughts and pictures, and so my journey into photography became a journey into my discovery of Australia. Through photography, I tried to gain an understanding of this surreal place I found myself in. Exotic birds, plants and landscapes never lost their appeal to me. I can’t imagine ever taking for granted being surrounded by so much wonder, even after a decade of dwelling in this place.
The way I currently see my image-making is as a form of personal historic recording, albeit in a subliminal and poetic way. For a great share of my images, I work 100% analog, developing and printing in the darkroom using techniques that have been used by photographers throughout the ages. Over the past few months, I have been using a large view camera to expose my negatives. When using this kind of camera, the photographer hides under a black cloth to compose the image projected upside down on the ground glass. There is a degree of magic involved in this type of photography. This approach yields physical prints, unlike most of the images we consume today through the variety of digital light boxes we carry with us. These are images you can hold in your hand. The picture is chemically etched into the paper; the paper can crease, get stained, have a life of its own. It is a palpable record of my time on this side of the planet.
© Wouter Van de Voorde, 2017