A few weeks ago, Jordi Keulemans proposed to do an interview with Eelco Roos, which a lot of you might now as @croyable on Instagram. Hell yeah, we were really happy to work together with Jordi, who did an amazing interview! So, without further ado, here it is
What’s your story, before you got famous on Instagram?
I’m a 38 year old Dutch guy with a big passion for photography. I work in IT in Amsterdam and freelance in Photography on the side. Before Instagram I never took a picture with my iPhone, only with SLR’s and DSLR’s, but Instagram changed all that. It changed everything over the past year really. I should pick up my digital camera more often! My passion for photography started when I was about 16. Ricky Powell started documenting the early NY Hip Hop scene. This was the trigger to start using my dad’s old SLR camera. I never stopped from there. I’ve done some record covers and video’s, but now I mainly focus on Instagram.
You’ve been active since June 2011. Where has the journey brought you so far?
First of all a lot of inspiration, there are great Instagram feeds out there! Second I have travelled a lot through Instagram. This year I have travelled to Spain, England, Belgium, Switzerland and the highpoint being Israel where I met some of my favorite Instagrammers, and we hung out for eight days. And, it looks like I will be travelling to Iceland at the end of November for a big brand. I have also been in a few nice publications like the Saatchi Gallery Magazine.
How did your style evolve in this period, comparing the ›now‹ to ›then‹?
In the beginning I didn’t take it as serious as I do now, I just snapped and posted, tried some Instagram filters and Hipstamatic. Right now I’m creating my own filters using different apps. I like a clean and realistic photo, so I’m trying not to overdo the whole editing process. Some edits still take more than half an hour, but I use this time to make it look like a minimal edit. I know this will sound weird, but most Instagrammers will know what I’m talking about.
Some photographers see IG as disloyal competition. Is it close-minded, or in a way understandable?
I don’t get the disloyal part? I can understand that it’s tough for professional photographers to see influential Instagrammers getting all this attention and opportunities, but, thing is, ›we‹ were the ones who spotted an opportunity and went for it. I can guarantee you that a lot of successful Instagrammers already had a background in photography, which may be professional or as a hobbyist. This background helps when using a mobile phone as your weapon of choice, the basics of photography apply even more to mobile, because of the limitations a mobile phone brings.
Logically, there’s already a lot of clandestine advertising on Instagram. How do you see the advertisement possibilities evolve within Instagram, and do you think it will eventually open up a public ad-system? Is that a good or bad thing?
I hope it won’t be open for a public ad-system, what I do hope, is that brands will manifest themselves even more on Instagram. It is a great way of opening up to your consumers, show the people the internal organization, be honest, be true. You can get great feedback, you just have to put effort in it, reply to questions, and truly engage with them. What we see happening now, is brands using influential Instagrammers to launch their Instagram account, or launch a new campaign through the feeds of influential. This is all advertising I find respectable, and I can deal with.
Do you feel some type of pressure to live up to the expectations of your 198K followers?
I don’t really. The fact of me doing what I love to do, and sharing pictures I like to share brought me to 198K followers, so I must be doing something right.
How did the process of growth in followers took place: slowly, quickly, after your first ›Popular Page‹ photo?
It went pretty quick for me actually. I started in June, and I think some months later I was at around 15K followers. Being on the popular page is important for follower growth, and back then it was not as hard as it is now to get on the Pop Page. Since they implemented a new algorithm, I don’t get to the popular page with every picture. When I reached about 20K followers I was put on the Suggest User list, a list to showcase Instagrams ›favorite‹ Instagrammers to new users, this set things in motion pretty quick. The moment Instagram opened up to Android even more people found me and started following.
What applications do you use?
I mainly use 4 apps: Snapseed – Filterstorm – Blender and VSCO CAM.
If your photos had a soundtrack, which record would it be?
Wow, good question, someone actually compared my work to pianist/composer Dustin O’Halloran, which I really liked. I think I will leave it at that. I’d rather have someone else make that comparison.
Are there certain personal no-go’s for yourself, as far as capturing and/or editing stuff, e.g. use of frameworks, IG’ing food, emotions…
I try not to have any cars in my photo’s, which is pretty hard. Right now I’m doing some work for some Belgian cities, and sharing photos of these cities through Instagram. This rule makes that pretty hard sometimes. I am also reluctant to posting portraits or pictures (street photography) of people I don’t know. Some of my favorite Instagrammers do, but I for one don’t have the guts to take them, and sharing them also doesn’t feel right to me. I’m sharing these pictures with almost 200.000 people without knowing them. I have to say this is something I do want to develop, I want to get better at this, because most pictures that really move me, involve people and their emotions.
What’s the most emotion-driven photo you took, and why?
This would be the pictures of the father and daughter at the Western Wall in Israel. As I said before, I rarely put people clearly visible in my photos but this one moved me. I saw the scene unfolding and had to walk fast to try to catch it. When I got there the girl was smiling at me. I waited until she ›forgot‹ about me, which she didn’t, but I snapped about three pictures, and was pretty excited right away. I knew this picture would capture the feeling I got from being there, at the wall, watching these people pray.
Is it (currently) possible to turn the online admiration into an offline living?
No, not yet, and I don’t know if it ever will be. I think the income will be unstable for a while, you never know when an opportunity arises.
Can you tell more about the brands and organizations that contacted you — and what do they ask from you?
I’m not going to name them, but I have been contacted by a few. What they usually ask is to help promote a campaign, or review a product. The opportunities I did get into are mostly with tourism agencies. This way I feel I’m not selling anything really, it’s not that obvious anyway. Right now I’m discussing a trip to Iceland for a big brand, I will take the brand’s account on Instagram, this will be at the end of November, so keep your eye on my feed.
Which prizes did you win already?
I won a competition by Ford, I ended up in Switzerland for a weekend to visit the Caprices Festival which was awesome. I also won in two categories in the iPhone Photography Awards 2012.
Has your photography ever taken you in danger / strange situations?
No real danger, but there was this one moment in Israel where one of the other Instagrammers (@samhorine) asked me to hang onto a sign which was pretty high up. There was this security guy right there, so we waited for him to leave. When he did I climbed the fence and started to hang on the sign, exactly at the moment the Security guard came back. This picture is classic and ended up in the feed of my friend @samhorine.
Can you name some inspirational places (around the world) which you would love to photograph, and why?
Iceland has been high up my list for a while now, the desolate landscapes, ice, and nothingness attracts me, and that seems to become a reality. I also desperately want to visit NY. I love the vibe NY gives me, and I follow a lot of NY IG’ers which take inspiring pictures. So I would love to meet these people and roam NY with them. It might happen in Spring 2013. I’m a big fan of nature, so Scotland is also a favorite. But, I see beauty in everything, I like to travel anywhere.