Short Exposure: Stefan Gerrits

An early morning flight, Finland

Stefan Gerrits first caught OP's attention in our 2014 Outdoor Photographer of the Year competition with his minimalist B&W image of an Arabian Oryx. We catch up with him almost two years later to find out more about his distilled way of seeing the world and passion for his subject matter.

Outdoor Photography: Hello! First of all please introduce yourself: tell us the type of pictures you like to take and how you first got into photography.
Stefan Gerrits: I started to photograph some 10 years ago when I visited South Africa. There was so much beautiful nature and wildlife there, which I wanted to share with my friends and family at home. I enjoyed photographing as much as I enjoyed telling others the story behind each image. A new hobby was born. Now, ten years on, I consider myself a versatile nature and wildlife photographer with a growing preference for minimalism.

Image above: A blue surrounded by black and white, The Netherlands © Stefan Gerrits

OP: How often are you able to get out there and photograph, and is there a particular location you normally go to?
SG: I have two young children and quite a few hobbies plus a day job so my life seems like one big balancing act! Luckily I live in one of the most photogenic countries in Europe, Finland, so, when I do get to go out, I’m always provided with enough beautiful subjects. The time I don't spend in Finland I am likely to spend in the Netherlands, where there are numerous interesting photographic opportunities as well.

OP: What are you working on at the moment?
SG: Right now spring has just ended however I am already planning way ahead for winter! I’m excited by that season big time – I can’t wait to photograph white-throated dippers during heavy snowfall. As we all know, planning is key to a successful shoot so right now I’m preparing for the winter…I don’t consider buying a pair of long johns as part of that!

OP: Where do you find your inspiration?
SG: It’s two-fold: I get inspiration outdoors as well as indoors, but being out in the field is most important. I do find it equally inspiring spending time indoors looking through pictures on social media: discovering new photographers, their ways of working, their stories and their drive. The power of social media, such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, cannot be underestimated.

Image above: A line-up, the Netherlands © Stefan Gerrits

OP: What’s your dream photography project?
SG: That’s not a fair question as I have a whole bucket list of photography projects! Visiting and photographing the Arctic – both the North and South are high on my wish list. The Northern Arctic is fortunately within reach, I’m confident I’ll reach at least the Finnish region this winter…frozen landscapes, owls and the Northern Lights – I can’t wait.

OP: Is there one thing in particular you think would help you improve your photography?
SG: There are many things for certain, the most obvious right now would be to spend more time with my digital camera in the field. More practice equals more skill.

OP: What do you think it hot right now in the photography world?
SG: Iceland. Social media is full of it. There are some cracking images, although a lot I see are almost identical shots. Every photographer I know is going there or has just visited. The country once quite unknown to photographers is turning into one of those locations to tick off the list. I shouldn’t complain too much, I just came back from Iceland myself and it was pure magic.

Image above: Outdoor Photographer of the Year 2014, Wildlife Insight, United Arab Emirates © Stefan Gerrits

OP: Where do you see your photography in five years time?
SG: I’ve got a quote on my website: ‘Now, I am on the never ending pursuit of that next cracking shot…and long may it continue’. As I have no intention to get rid of the quote, I see myself pursuing my passion in five years time.

See more of Stefan's work here