Thought-provoking, introspective and enchanting – these are all words that aptly describe Dutch photographer Claire Droppert's style. Her portfolio evokes a feeling of intrinsic primal instinct in the calm of silence as it elevates isolated landscapes and other natural elements into the realm beyond.
Claire's success is due in part to her ability to harness the beauty of simplicity and minimalism – a quality that many photographers find difficult to do. This month, we had the honour of chatting with Claire about her photographic journey, what inspires her art and how photographers can use their work to tell a story in a meaningful way.
Claire Droppert is a conceptual art photographer from the Netherlands. Photo by: 'Claire Droppert'.
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Hello Claire! Thank you so much for joining us. For people who may not be familiar with you, how would you describe yourself and the type of work you do with your photography? Where did it all begin?
I am Claire Droppert and I am a photographer and conceptual designer based in Rotterdam, the Netherlands. My surroundings continually inspire me and I actively enjoy creating images with simplicity and a feeling of silence in mind. I take a wide range of images from concept design through to commercial and travel.
Dutch Delight. From the series, 'Dutch Silence'. Photo by: 'Claire Droppert'.
My photography journey started at a young age when I had my first analog Pentax camera. The passion and enthusiasm has grown ever since. From studying and working as a graphic designer, I became more specialised in conceptual imagery and developed my career as a photographer, which now forms part of my living. It provides me with opportunities to share my thoughts and stories with the world.
The Stare. From the series, 'Dutch Silence'. Photo by: 'Claire Droppert'.
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You have such a beautiful flair for conceptual art, which manifests itself across your portfolio. How did you develop your style? Is it continually evolving and if so, where do you see it heading in the future?
It is a difficult question to answer. It is a style that I have now gotten used to and deliver it naturally within all the images I create. In my work, I am inspired by the diversity of natural landscapes, together with desolate or open spaces. I continually strive to incorporate strong visuals and create interesting content. Together with a creative blend of solitude and minimalism, it generally has a very distinguishing feeling of Silence.
Spegel. From the series, 'Frozen Silence'. Photo by: 'Claire Droppert'.
This has become a trademark within all of my photography. I think it all comes down to what I like and through that passion, I tend to convey the style of image that suits. I have many ideas and if time allows, I would love to be able to create and publish them. I want to maintain a sense of uniqueness, so I guess I'll have to wait and see what happens.
What kind of work goes into the construction of your photographs? Which mediums do you use and how do you distil emotion or meaning in your images through the fine art process?
My images always tell a story and this hopefully gives greater meaning to the work I create. I want to create imagery that reflects my thoughts at any given time. Photography is an emotion. I capture things that speak to me. My images are created from a spontaneous moments. By adopting this approach to my photography, I feel it maximises emotion and the true meaning within my work.
Anger. From the series, 'Emotion'. Photo by: 'Claire Droppert'.
Your 'Gravity' series with sand is exceptionally breathtaking and thought-provoking. Tell us a bit about the creative process that went into capturing these ‘sand creatures’ and what you hope your audience will take away from this collection of photographs.
I once saw my daughter kicking sand up in the air on the beach and in the sunlight, it looked fantastic. In my shooting process, I saw shapes of creatures arise, which in the end is how I selected the images to use.
Hare. From the series, 'Sand Creatures'. Photo by: 'Claire Droppert'.
"Sand Creatures" was captured on the beaches in Holland and contains landscape, natural elements and zero gravity. It focuses on nature in an unexpected way. The explosive and at times powdery scenes of the grainy sand being thrown into the air can be taken as a manifesting life form, so they become sand creatures.
Dolphin. From the series, 'Sand Creatures'. Photo by: 'Claire Droppert'.
They form part of my 'Gravity Project', where Earth's different elements are captured to let them stand out in their natural surroundings using moments of zero gravity. I want to make people aware that there is more than meets the eye, kind of like how we all see different shapes in clouds. I think it is the same with these creatures. It is good to see, we all look at things differently and I believe we should cherish that and learn from one another.
Cobra. From the series, 'Sand Creatures'. Photo by: 'Claire Droppert'.
You also have a fascinating series of Dutch ‘mountains’. Given that the Netherlands is mainly perceived as flat, can you describe the ideas that fuelled this project and how it has resonated with others in your homeland?
I love the fact that this series is unique and I like how it goes against the grain. The Netherlands is very flat and yes, mountains are not something that you find in the here. I think contrasts work best in photography. I drove by these piles once, and I thought it looked very interesting, surreal in the landscape.
6129mm. From the series, 'Dutch Mountains'. Photo by: 'Claire Droppert'.
It was something that inspired me and it enabled me to produce something slightly different and perhaps add a hidden message or two in there. One of these messages are the titles of the artworks in millimetres, it refers to the actual altitude of these piles, like real mountains. In my homeland, it made people question where the images were taken. Some thought they were taken in another country, where you find volcanic surroundings, which was my intention for the atmosphere in the creative editing process.
In terms of post-production, what programs do you use and what is your aim with the final result? What challenges or limitations have you faced with expressing your creative style through the use of software?
I like to compose an image that we might not always see at first glance. Trying out new techniques and then combining those with subjects you might not always think of, have always been part an integral part of my process.
I organise and basic edit everything in Adobe Lightroom first. I think it comes down to the image and concept to then look at what I could use the best.
Winter Wonderland. Photo by: 'Claire Droppert'.
There is so much software nowadays, in where you can create anything you want. Most of the time, I use Adobe Photoshop for my creative process. I continually strive to incorporate strong visions by using the most modern editing tools and techniques.
Throughout your career, you’ve collaborated with many exciting brands, such as the Hong Kong Tourism Board, Adobe Lightroom, Cathay Pacific and Electrolux. Which has been your favourite project to work on so far and what made it enjoyable from an artist’s viewpoint?
Yes, I have been fortunate to work with many global brands, through agencies or directly. It has been humbling to think that they see my potential and want to work with me.
Dukling Boat. Photo by: 'Claire Droppert'.
It would be very hard to pick any favourites to be honest. I like creative brands such as Adobe and Canon, which I used to dream of working with as a starting professional. I like their vision and products. I guess what makes any brand nice to work with, for me, is when they allow me to develop my most artistic and creative ideas.
Of all the places that you’ve travelled, is there one place that has stood out for you in terms of photography and which you’d like to return to for another project?
I really liked Hong Kong, it truly is like entering another world and it has so much to offer. The food, the green surroundings, its culture, the high-rise, the mentality and atmosphere of the city, there is just so incredibly much to see and capture there as a photographer, no matter what niche you are in. It is a city where I have never seen so many photographers in one place.
Where do you go for inspiration when you reach a creative plateau?
I try to be positive all of the time and don't ever really feel uninspired. Due to the fact, I am always busy and continually strive to be proactive and to make things happen. Sounds a bit like a cliche... but I am genuinely inspired by music, places, people and their stories.
Cheerfulness. From the series, 'Flower Power'. Photo by: 'Claire Droppert'.
I’m lucky to be surrounded by many inspirational people as well. But also, I can be inspired by the small things, the silent moments many people often miss. So, I think if I ever did feel like I hit a plateau, I like to spend a little time in nature, embrace a quiet spot and in no time my mind would be recharged and creatively refocused.
Queen of Night. From the series, 'Flower Power'. Photo by: 'Claire Droppert'.
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In this highly visual era, what impact can photography have upon people? Do you think it can be used as a medium to bring about any kind of change – socially, politically or economically?
It is clear imagery can be used as a powerful medium, especially when trying to convey an important message. I have been lucky enough to work on various projects relating to both global and regional campaigns that hopefully have an impact around the world.
Brienzer Rothorn. Photo by: 'Claire Droppert'.
When working on these projects, it is very apparent just how powerful your images can be and the story behind them can also be very meaningful. It raises further awareness on global issues, it is very humbling and heartwarming to think that my pictures can help to make a difference and hopefully bring about change. Therefore, images used in the right way can have a significant impact and are extremely worthwhile when sharing an important message to a huge audience.
What advice do you have about using visuals to tell a story and engage an audience?
In this day and age, the power of good quality visuals is essential if you are attempting to convey a story and attempt to engage with your audience. It is not an easy thing to do, and there are no set rules about how to do this, but I always try to capture high-quality images I like, rather than to go for what the audience might expect me to take. I guess if an image or video attracts me within the first second I see it, I know it will often do with others too.
Lonely Tree. Photo by: 'Claire Droppert'.
As a photographer, I think it is very important to be yourself and follow my own path. Not to follow others and deliver all the cliche shots that you tend to see all the time. I prefer to capture something that means something to me, something that gives me energy and value to my audience. That way, I feel honest and meaningful delivering content, stories I hope my wider audience will enjoy.
What are your biggest marketing tools and how did you harness them to create a successful photography business?
My most crucial marketing tool comes down to my own calm and simple style of photography conveyed within all of my images. Honestly, I try to keep things simple and always stick to what I feel is personal. That way, everything else seems to naturally fall into place and the images begin to be marketed consistently, with my Silence theme in mind. Once my images are created, I tend to share them on various social media platforms and through my website, where they market themselves.
Abandoned. From the series, 'Silence'. Photo by: 'Claire Droppert'.
Blastur. From the series, 'Silence'. Photo by: 'Claire Droppert'.
Interlude. From the series, 'Silence'. Photo by: 'Claire Droppert'.
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What sorts of things do you think might challenge you in the future or do you have any photographs or styles that you want to investigate? Where do you see your photography going in terms of subject and style?
I find this a hard one to answer. I do like to experiment with new techniques, to evolve my photography in the wave of new technology. Implementing my concepts and ideas within these techniques can be very interesting and form a style of its own. Nowadays, everything has been done and I find it very motivating to see what hasn’t and create something unique.
Pink Parade. From the series, 'Tropical Silence'. Photo by: 'Claire Droppert'.
Fofoti. From the series, 'Tropical Silence'. Photo by: 'Claire Droppert'.
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If your photography career fell through the floor tomorrow, what else could you see yourself doing for a living?
That is a tricky question to answer and hopefully something that doesn’t come about too soon. I have many ideas and in a roundabout way, I am doing lots of things that are not necessarily related to photography directly.
Nimbus II. From the series, 'Cloudscapes. Photo by: 'Claire Droppert'.
Of course, it will have to depend on the circumstances I am in – health, situation, etc. I think I always see many opportunities surrounding me. I could be selling secondhand books at beaches, start an animal gym or simply motivate and inspire people through my experiences in life by speaking in front of an audience. I see life as a playground in where anything is possible!
Nimbus VI. From the series, 'Cloudscapes. Photo by: 'Claire Droppert'.
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Currently, I am working on a variety of projects for inspiring brands and on completion of those assignments, I hope to focus a little more on my conceptual fine artwork to bring interesting value to my audience.
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