Wesley Dombrecht

Wesley Dombrecht

MIFA 2021 Winner, 1st Place in Advertising (Professional) – “Sothis Gin

Born in 1979 in a very little Belgium town called ‘Olsene’, as a little boy he was called a dreamer with sometimes too much fantasy, a bit quiet, somewhat rebellious, defying authority often. His childhood: a roller coaster with some bumps in the road. As a young man, he did hotel school and graduated as a cook, so the first years of his career where in the restaurant / catering business …Gradually, he became more involved in food photography and styling, and is actually an autodidact photographer. He learned all the photography skills on his own… The evolution to food-photography was a natural move, that combined his love for food with his passion for graphics. Until today, it makes him very happy that he has always been able to do all the things he loved – a sentiment very important for him.

Q: Do you remember the first time you held a camera? 

Yes, I remember that i always had a great love for visual art….as a young boy I was so intrigued by light and the way it affects three-dimensional objects on a two-dimensional medium, that I started drawing, painting and experimenting with all kinds of materials… In this experimental period I also grabbed for the camera and at the age of 18 I bought my first DSLR camera, I immediately felt in love with this medium… it felt like  painting with light in a complete new manner and the endless possibilities that the digital process offered in combination with traditional photography really appealed to me.

Q: Tell us a bit more about your winning project and what inspired you to do it? 

It’s a funny story… the inspiration for this project came by accident, when i came into contact with the French girl ‘Mathilda Perrot’ ,she is a photographer from Lyon. We started talking and she wanted to do something together… Her proposal was to combine my artistic style of photography with a commercial style to create a few dynamic images… I always kept my artistic work separated from my commercial work, but the idea intrigued me. So, when we started exchanging ideas, she came up with this beautiful French Liquor product and the rest went very natural, I’ve created a set and painted it in her favourite colours… Mathilda thought out some (story) concepts for each picture and we made all the images together in my personal photography style. We made this project in our free time, there was not really a plan to follow, we just worked from our feelings. At the end, we where both very happy how it turned out. The gin that we used here comes from the vineyards in the Rhône Valley, by monsieur M.Chapoutier. The idea behind it, was to work around this gin, the herbs & the making of a drink with it…. Like one image with the bottle & some of the wild herbs or spices used for the maceration… Another image about the preparation of an ingredient that is used to make the cocktail… A third image, as we finish the cocktail… And maybe one last with a finished styled drink & the gin bottle beside it…

Q: What type of photos do you like to take in your free time? 

It is mostly work in the ”fine-art / still-life” genre, working around the subject ‘food’ and in series. I use this work for exhibitions and it is usually sold in limited editions of 15 pc. In the years I developed a characteristic style for this personal work, what gives it a very aesthetic, painting-like appearance, with dark colours.

Q: What genre of photography is new to you that you would like to explore?  

There is one thing that i’m very interested in, and it’s motion. Things like time-laps / stop-motion / drone / video (and then especially with foods in the commercial style.) But at the moment i don’t have the time, the knowledge and all the right tools to do it good on a professional level. 

Q: Besides a camera, what do you think are the three most important tools of a photographer? 

– Very good lighting equipment ( and good knowledge of light and how it reacts )

– A few very good quality lenses ( better 1 good , instead of 3 moderate )

– Bounce cards 

Q: How do you know when a body of work is completed? 

To me, it should feel visually consistent, if you look at it as one piece. Image formats, color range, composition should be quite the same to each other.  A story or concept should be attached to it, I think it completes it. When working on a series, it’s sometimes difficult to say when it’s finished, because, when you are a perfectionist like me, you get the tendency to overdo things… but I’ve learned over the years to stop it in time.

Q: If it could be anything at all, what would your photography dream project be?

Making a complete artistic cookbook project for a famous chef is one thing that is on my wish list.

View Wesley Dombrecht’s winning work.