Could you please introduce yourself?
I’m Sybrinne Straver, a Dutch photographer from a village near Rotterdam. I live here with my boyfriend, two year old son and my senior dog. I really love to portraiture children, just the way they are. I also like to include a dog in the picture and capture the bond between child and dog.
How did your interest in photography begin?
As a child I always loved pictures and on holidays I always walked around with a disposable camera, which was full way to fast. When I got my current dog as a puppy I really wanted to make beautiful photos of him. So my interest for photography grew and I started to educate myself and invest in better equipment and education. Toby, my dog, loved to pose for a treat and on the many walks I got the chance to get better.
When did you decide to become a professional photographer?
After four years of learning, following courses and workshops I knew I wanted to try to make a business out of it. At first I started with only ‘Hond in Beeld’ my dog photography website and specialty, but after a while I expanded my horizon to people as well. With no regrets!
Do you prefer natural or studio light (and why)?
That’s a really hard question. I really love both but I use soft natural light more often at this moment. However, in a few weeks I’m opening my studio so I can use my studio lights whenever I want to and I don’t have to depend on pop-up locations anymore.
What do you prefer, shooting in a studio or outdoor?
I think I do prefer outdoor, because it’s easier for my models to be relaxed and I can use the space for fun prompts or a bit of action. However, when it rains all day, it’s very nice to photograph in a studio and being able to create beautiful images.
Can you tell us about the camera(system) and lenses you use?
I use a Canon 6D full frame camera with various lenses. Outdoor I usually choose the 70-200 mm 2.8 so I can create lovely creamy backgrounds. Indoors during a lifestyle session I use the Sigma Art 35 mm 1.4. That’s such a great lens in lots of situations. In the studio I use a 50 mm or a 85 mm 1.8, also a very nice lens.
What software do you use to process your images?
I always use Lightroom to make a selection of my images and to do the general edit. After that I import each photo in Photoshop to do some local adjustments and some retouching if necessary.
What’s your favorite lens and why?
Every lens has its pro’s and con’s and that’s why I love to have them all! If I have to choose one lens I would choose the 85 mm. I can still create beautiful creamy backgrounds with this lens, but it’s not so heavy as the 70-200 mm.
What makes a good day for you?
Whenever I’m having an outdoor photo session and the light is beautiful, the models are beautifully styled and they have fun during the shoot. And then when you come back home, import the photos and see that the pictures I had in mind worked out perfectly. That feels awesome and creates a rush.
When it comes to working with people, can you share any tips to our readers?
Parents can be worried if their children will behave during the session, but I instantly reassure them that we can make the shoot playful and that I have patience. Then I break the ice and start talking with the children about their favorite subject or give them a little assignment. Of course I don’t know everyones favorite subject, so that’s a question I always ask before the photoshoot. Once the kids are enjoying themselves, the parents usually do too. This also applies to dog owners and their dogs by the way!
When it comes to your career, what was your highest high and your lowest low?
This is a tough question. I don’t feel like I’ve really experienced a lowest low, but I can feel very bad sometimes about my results when an image doesn’t end up like I had pictured it in my mind. But that’s a process a lot of creative persons go through and it also helps to improve yourself. I can’t point out one highlight. Every time a couple asks me to photograph their wedding is a highlight for me. I’m honoured that people put their faith in me. Another highlight is my upcoming studio, where I will be able to create my own place and photograph every day, without concerning the weather. And last but not least, being 3rd of all the winners of the UPA Awards 2020 is a really big compliment and definitely one of my highs.
Thank you so much Sybrinne, what’s your experience with the Unlike Portrait Awards?
The UPA organization has a strong positive vibe and I love their mission to connect and support portrait photographers. They managed to inspire lots of great photographers to participate and show much appreciation to everyone’s work. On a personal level, I really felt appreciated as well and I am very happy with this recognition. Thank you!