Interview With Christiaan Van Heijst From Netherlands

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Christiaan Van Heijst

Christiaan van Heijst is a professional pilot, born and raised in Netherlands. Witnessing wondrous views while flying the plane, he eventually turned to photography, and the rest was history.

Interview With Christiaan Van Heijst From Netherlands

Interview with the 2021 MUSE Photography Awards Winner - Christiaan Van Heijst

1Can you introduce yourself and talk about how you got into photography?

I am Christiaan van Heijst, born and raised in the Netherlands. For as long as I can remember I have been fascinated by flying and was mesmerized by the unbelievable views during my first flights as a passenger when I was two and four years old. That same fascination led to me becoming a professional pilot and for the last twenty years I've been flying all over the world with my 747, camera always at hand.

As a payments, eCommerce and software development expert, Srii leads a team of +150 delivering the fastest-growing chargeback re-presentment and prevention services in the United States. For her, the greatest joy in business is getting to know merchants and empower them to succeed in their business. Srii holds a degree in Computer Science Engineering. Her goal is to share her experience with as many people as possible as she values the importance of fueling and leading this competitive society with more compassion and empathyStill in reverence by the unique perspectives and views up there, I just needed to capture and share those experiences. This led to a journey in photography that grew out as a parallel career next to my flying career and is a highly rewarding enterprise.

2Where did you study photography?

I am completely self-taught in the field of photography. A lot of trial and error, practice and even more failure led to the skills I have honed over the last decades. I just listen to my intuition when it comes to composition, light and shadows.

3Do you remember your first shot? What was it?

I remember I took my father's old Minolta camera with me a couple of times in the beginning of my flying career. Capturing a couple of clouds and views while flying with my Cessna and building hours twenty years ago. The art of documenting such unique views with my camera and sharing them with the world was appealing and thus a passion was born.

4What equipment do you use?

I use the Nikon Z7 with Z-lenses and sometimes the D850 with mostly f/2.8 lenses to capture the landscapes from the cockpit and on the ground.

5What do you hope to achieve?

My ultimate dream would be to visit the moon and document that experience with my camera. The magnificent desolation, black & white landscapes untouched for hundreds of millions of years.. what a dream location for photography.

My photography has grown very rapidly in the last few years and I can only imagine where this journey will lead me to eventually. The sky is not the limit!

6What compliment inspired/touched you the most?

I'm always genuinely touched when people say they are 'carried away to far away lands of fantasy' while seeing my photography. It's not only a compliment for my work, it means I have managed to convey a complete experience in emotions and consciousness through my camera, and that's the biggest compliment anyone can receive.

7What inspires your unique storytelling?

When I started my airline career as a pilot for a small airline, I was working under contract for many different airlines varying from European and local African airlines to military contract work in Afghanistan. Especially while flying in Africa and Afghanistan, I realized that I was privileged to experience those adventures from a unique viewpoint and I just had to document it. That lead to a modest photographic hobby that attracted a lot of positive feedback, leading eventually to a full blown career in photography in combination with my unique position as a travelling pilot.

8What THREE (3) words describe your photography style?

Space. Depth. Light.

9Congratulations! As the winner of the MUSE Photography Awards, what does it mean for you and your team to receive this distinction?

This is an absolutely unexpected surprise and honor. And most of all, a huge boost for my creative career. Ad Astra, to the stars and beyond!

10Can you explain a bit about the winning work you entered into the 2021 MUSE Photography Awards, and why you chose to enter this project?

I have entered different projects, each depicting a separate topic of my photography and creative styles. One of my favourite series is 'An Office With A View', showcasing a series of unique long exposure images from the cockpit of the 747. This series highlights my unique position as a pilot/photographer and carries the viewer to places that are reserved for just a handful of people worldwide.

A completely different series is 'Grand Central Terminal'; a black&white series of images of the famous location in downtown New York. Working with different blending styles of multiple exposures and post-processing them in black & white, it creates a unique vintage-like feeling that adds to the atmosphere of the place. Playing with light and exposures is the key to carrying the viewer into my world.

11How has winning an award developed your career?

Winning an award like the MUSE photography awards is a clear signal that I'm on the right path with my creative work and a boost to continue working on building up my name and brand in photography. Over the last few years I've invested an incredible amount of time, energy and resources into this secondary career, knowing intuitively that it is simply something I have to do. Winning awards like these is a recognition of that purpose and fuels my ambitions even further.

12Name 1-3 photographers who have inspired you.

Ansel Adams.

Rutger Geerling.

Buzz Aldrin

13What was the best piece of advice you were given starting out, by a mentor or your role model?

The words from Apollo 11 astronaut Buzz Aldrin after he visited the moon:

“We need to have people up there who can communicate what it feels like, not just pilots and engineers.” I think I fit that role perfectly.

14What advice would you give someone who would like to become a photographer today?

Follow your intuition and practice a lot, there really is not much else to say. Taking photography courses is nice and might teach you the basics, but the trap is that you hold on too rigorously to certain techniques and styles. Never copy other work but just go with the flow, look around you in the world and pay attention to what triggers your imagination and sense of beauty. Capturing that experience and emotion with a camera will become a natural result.

15What is your key to success? Any parting words of wisdom?
Set lofty goals, trust your intuition and work hard. And in the meanwhile, try to enjoy the journey a little bit as well ;)
16How do you stay in that space of being receptive to new information and knowledge?

I'm extremely critical about my own work, the perfect photo, book or caption is still waiting to be created. I don't think that any creative career has a definite end or finish; it's a never ending journey of growth and development that can only grow with the input of new information and inspiration.

17Which THREE (3) friends/peers would you nominate to participate in the next MUSE Photography Awards?

Rico 'Adventures of Rico' X.

Tom Putt

Albert Dros

18Which THREE (3) peers, within the photography industry, would you nominate to be a judge in the next MUSE Photography Awards? (You may include yourself within, and please include the email addresses)

Christina Force

Tom Putt

Winning Entries

Beautiful Baku | 2021

Interview With Christiaan Van Heijst From Netherlands

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Christiaan Van Heijst

Christiaan van Heijst is a professional pilot, born and raised in Netherlands. Witnessing wondrous views while flying the plane, he eventually turned to photography, and the rest was history.