Ivo Kerssemakers grew up in Amsterdam before arriving in the United States. But after living in New York for a few years, he was ready for a change of scenery. Perhaps something with a little more natural light. And less snow.
“Basically, I got tired of shoveling the snow,” Kerssemakers says. “So, at one point I drove South until I saw palm trees. And I thought, 'This is a good spot.’”
Kerssemakers was drawn to the “beautiful areas” of the South and immediately identified them as prime subjects for his burgeoning photography hobby. Given his penchant for composition and his eye for scenery, however, it is a hobby that could turn into a new profession.
“All of a sudden, I was 30 and I looked back and all I did was work and work and work,” he says with a laugh.
Kerssemakers started a software business at 22 years old and still maintains the company as his primary vocation. But from his photographs, it’s clear that he finds joy and fresh experience with each new photograph.
His technique and subjects set his work apart from other, more traditional black-and-white digital photographs. Kerssemakers employs “long-exposure photography,” a technique that uses a dark or neutral density filter that allows him to leave the camera’s shutter open for three to five minutes during daylight. With this technique he captures natural scenes on beaches, on Bull’s Island, and other Lowcountry scenes. The result is a still, steady image that shows the movement of nature as it transpires. In the photos, this movement looks like fog but is actually the blended movement of the natural elements.
“You can see the fog and the breaking waves,” he says. "It’s all the splatters of the waves and everything else. When you do long-exposure, it all blends together. So, I do like to find scenes where a long exposure makes sense. When you can do something with the movement, whether it’s in the sky or the water.”
Three to five minutes of exposure is a lifetime for a subject to keep still, however. Even though Kerssemakers’ latest exhibit, "Mystical Carolina," is a collection of natural scenes that don’t wander, he has photographed city scenes as well in his home in Amsterdam. But it requires a healthy dose of time and patience.
"You have all this beautiful water, canals and nice bridges, but it’s always full of stuff. There’s always boats coming through or tourists stopping on the bridge. So, every photo I took there took me about four or five hours to get the right format and window (of time)."
And, occasionally, that can attract attention.
"I was sitting in front of a restaurant (in Amsterdam) and at a certain point the restaurant owner came and asked, “Are you OK?"
Kerssemakers continually pushes his technique. Recently he starting printing his photographs on brushed aluminum as well as canvas. This type of printing removes the need for a frame and makes the work look vibrant and feel active as it stretches to the edge.
Currently, he is artist of the month at Lowcountry Artists Gallery, where his work has been on display for a little more than a year now. He’s always shooting new subjects, keeping a list of items to photograph.
“A lot of times when I think I’m doing a series, I get sidetracked to something else,” he says. “I have a whole list of subjects I want to photograph but they’re scattered around the country, so I have to find the time to do it.”
Given his patience and dedication, Kerssemakers won’t have any problem.
Reach Scott Elingburg at firstname.lastname@example.org.