News

News and blogs about STUDIOVHF, STUDIOVHF SCOTLAND and Vincent Hartman in the English language.

Portrait of Britain

Having been behind the camera since 1987 with varying intensity, photography has been close to my heart ever since. It has been a journey with a lot of discovery and experimenting. From having my first exhibition in Zwolle in 1990 and a little photography business, to happy snapper and hardly touching a camera at all when we were living in Northampton. The last 8 years with a studio in Heino, close to my hometown in Zwolle, the photography was a head on commercial business, specialising in corporate and advertising photography, product and interiors. I also did some editorial work and to a certain extend, those images were more liberating. As a photographer with a marketing background I have always had the communication goal of the client in the back of my mind when creating an image.

That commercial drive was good for my clients and subsequently for my business, but made it hard or even impossible to switch off and do my own thing. Not that you can't be creative in commercial assignments, but that is more related to creating the right look and feel of an image in order to make an impact. Of course some commercial images clearly have my signature, whatever that means, but it is not free work. 

A number of times I have come up with ideas of starting various projects and discussed these with friends. I have envisaged some images in my head and still like some of them if I think about it, but I have never actually done it. Running a little photography business 7 days a week leaves little time to reflect and switch of to think about the next step to grow the business. The commercial impact of some of the images I have drawn up in my head were influencing the execution of it and some of the project ideas I had were in hindsight just there to make the business grow. So I was exploring a dead end road.

Now having moved back to the UK with main professional emphasis on marketing and with photography only being a part of it, opportunities for free projects are more within reach. And when I learned of the Portrait of Britain public art competition back in June 2016, I have followed the project with great interest.

Portrait of Britain, public art competition 2017

The Portrait of Britain public art competition is an award-winning annual exhibition that shows the diversity of people in modern Britain. It is organised by the British Journal of Photography in partnership with  the outdoor advertising company JCDecaux. Although I don't particularly like photography competitions and don't necessarily need national exposure, I thought it was a good opportunity to start a little project. With the deadline approaching, it would give me a clear goal. 

EU nationals in the UK

With winding down STUDIOVHF in The Netherlands, selling the Dutch property and moving the family back over to Britain again, I have followed the Brexit discussions with great interest. It is fair to say that the political climate here in Britain has changed tremendously from the years that we were living in Northampton. Without willing to turn my photography project into a political statement, for me it was an obvious subject to cover. 

Drawn up a list of people that I knew of or have met the last year that fitted the category, I set of that morning to take my first portrait for this new series:

Ian Hogg, Irish farmer in Scotland.

In the 10 minute drive to the location of the first image, I have again been deliberating with myself about the style of photography, what techniques to use, landscape frame or portrait frame etc? I concluded that it was not a commercial assignment so all those thoughts could be skipped and that I didn't have to win the competition either. How liberating! 

I did set myself some guidelines though, to ensure that not just the subject is the connecting factor, but also the style:

  • Images taken in my beloved Black and White
  • The subjects to be photographed facing camera, in an environment of their choice and where they feel comfortable
  • No directing of posture and scene and no controlling of styling and environment, just take it as it comes
  • Landscape mode to connect the surroundings to the individual and to complete the story visually
  • Keep photographic techniques as basic as possible   
  • Limit myself to the geographical area of the Country of Scotland 

The project has now 6 images and they have entered the competition. However, the project will not stop here, as the Portrait of Britain competition was just a tool for me to get it of the ground. So I will keep on adding portraits on the basis of 'who I bump into'. We will then see where this leads us..

More portraits

The full series of portraits of EU nationals in Scotland can be viewed here: EU Nationals in Scotland.

Soroptimists Go Strictly

The Soroptimist International Falkirk held their second Strictly Come Dancing event at the MacDonald Inchyra Hotel in Polmont. It was a fund raising event for two charities: Playlist for Life (personal music for dementia) and Barnardo's (the UK's largest children's charity). My neighbour Bob Black, a committee member of the Falkirk Camera Club was asked to take care of the photography of the event and asked if I could help him out.

Soroptimists Falkirk Go Strictly

The dancing couples

I wasn't sure what to expect, but when we arrived we learned that we had half an hour to take the group portraits, so I went into 'work-mode' very quickly, set up the light and the shots of the dancers were taken before the audience arrived.

Only when we set down, I learned that the Soroptimists were not an association of some sort of medical profession but an international vibrant and dynamic organisation for today’s professional and business women. The name Soroptimist is derived from the Latin 'soror'  meaning 'sister' and 'optima' meaning 'best'. So Soroptimist is best described as 'Best for Woman' and who doesn't support that? The Soroptimists are committed to a world where women and girls together achieve their individual and collective potential, realise aspirations and have an equal voice in creating strong, peaceful communities worldwide. The Falkirk branch of Soroptimist International is a long-established active and enthusiastic community of women active in all areas of society in Falkirk and the Scottish Central Belt. 

The Showgirls

Here they weren't aware yet, but they were well underway to winning

The winners:

More images!

More images can be found via the following link:

20170602.

Some shots from the local area

With less editing jobs to do over the weekends and the weather improving, I am getting out a bit more by car, by foot or a combination of both. Sometimes with camera.

In the slideshow below in aspect ratio 16:9, you will find images taken in Falkirk, the surrounding countryside of Stirling, Carronbridge, North Third and Kilsyth.

The slideshow starts with two shots taken from a recreational area in Falkirk between Princes Park and Callander Park. A great place with good views over Falkirk and the Forth Valley and the countryside south of the town towards Shieldhill. The third image represents something where the United Kingdom is an example for The Netherlands as it generates 25% of it's energy consumption through renewable energy sources like wind and water power, heat-pumps and not surprisingly to a lesser extend solar energy. The fourth image is taken at North Third Reservoir. The overview landscape over Falkirk, Grangemouth refinery and in the distance the New Forth Road Bridge, is taken from the carpark at the Tak-Ma Doon Road between Carron Bridge and Kilsyth. In the last two images you see Stirling Castle and The Wallace Monument.

A bit further afield:

Upper Glendevon Reservoir between Dollar and Gleneagles and Laide in the North West of Scotland.

Highland Gate

And some shots of the place in Stirling where the Hartman family is proud to setlle:

And a Panorama:

If you click on the above image, you will get through to a large file hosted on Gigapan, where you can view and the image in a higher resolution. Click on the symbol the at the right side of the frame for full screen. Click on the image to zoom in and use the '+/-' controls.

The River Forth

The start of the river Forth at Aberfoyle

The river starts at Loch Ard in the Trossachs, a mountainous area 19 miles west of Stirling. Just west of Stirling the river Teith joins the forth and at Stirling the river becomes tidal. It widens eastwards and becomes the estuary Forth or Firth of Forth and eventually ends in the North Sea.

Time Lapse by David Meikle

On a sunny early evening in May I bumped into David Meikle who was watering the turf in his front garden. He and his wife just moved into their new home on Highland Gate in Stirling 2 days before.

The stunning view and the wider Stirling area was also for them one of the key reasons to move here and David captured the Wallace Monument in these two amazing time-lapses:

David is a great enthusiast photographer and you can find more of his portfolio here: David Meikle

Scottish Drift Championship Round 1

Today I was introduced to the first round of The Scottish Drift Championship held at the Driftland Circuit in Lochgelly, Fife.

I have done motorsports before like TT in Assen NL, a bit of football, cycling and running events as well as some editorial work about individual sporters but that is about it as far as sports is concerned.

I was not on an official assignment, am still registered in The Netherlands as a professional photographer and decided to go here on short notice, so I didn't have the time to organise all the paperwork to get free access to the area's within the circuit.  I tend to choose low camera standpoints for this type of photography but was now forced to take more distance and capture the event from a higher standpoint. In hindsight this was actually not so bad for this type of photography. The proportions of a car and its position in relation to other cars on the circuit can be better captured from a higher standpoint. Also the official media area's within the circuit were all on  elevated stretches of grass for safety reasons.

Anyway you may judge yourself how I managed to capture this event:

Later this week you can find more images via this link: 20170319

Enjoy and looking forward to seeing you back on this site!

Vincent

Do you wanna be ruled by Germany?

Peperbus, Zwolle

I have grown up in a country where the people have worked hard to build it up from the rubbles of the second world war. In our family we always had to finish our plates because we should be grateful to have something to eat in the first place. “In the war we had almost nothing to eat” we were told. We heard the stories about how our grandfather and grandmother managed to feed my father’s family of 13. For us this fell on deaf ears because we found it perfectly normal that our mum cooked a fresh meal every day. The second world war was something from the history books, the TV and the annual commemorations and independence day. Over the years the ‘finish your plate ritual’ changed with the argument that some children in some countries had nothing to eat. The television showing starving children in war battered countries influenced the Hartman family meal. We were young at the time, but it did however make us realise that we were privileged.

Hartman's Playground, Wipstrikkerallee Zwolle

Germany

My father, the youngest of the family of 13, was only 12 or so during the war and was kept away from the hardship by his parents as much possible, but over the years the stories came through nevertheless. The most obvious story of them all was of course that the German’s stole our bikes, as if that was the worst crime. Strangely enough, we watched German television a lot, were friendly with German tourists and went to Germany on holidays. My parents also had German friends. We even drove a ‘Hitler wagen’ as the VW beetle was called by some. I have never felt the existence of any hatred against Germans from my parents or grandparents. When I asked my father why this was, he replied that today’s Germans had nothing to do with the war and were polite and friendly people. Of course we took the mickey out of them, especially during football tournaments, but we did the same with the Belgians and other Europeans. I also remember my father saying that most young German soldiers that were sent to The Netherlands were actually apologetic that they had to be here against their will and that they didn’t want to do any harm.

Today's political climate

Closer to home we have politicians in the UK blaming their own failing on the EU and making immigration a key part of the Brexit campaign. That the UK would cripple when these migrants weren’t there is ignored. It is funny that a country who hasn’t signed the Schengen agreement and is located on an island, has a greater problem with EU migrants than for instance The Netherlands. Investment in education and social equality simply didn’t create the pull from the labour market for such large amounts of immigrants. The Dutch did take in a large number of refugees though, way more than the UK and this didn’t lead to great problems. Nevertheless also in The Netherlands, a far right, anti immigrant party is leading the opinion polls. Let's hope he will not be part of the future government, because he is as foul mouthed as Trump is (and hasn’t even got any economic or business credentials).

Of course there are many examples of misuse of the Dutch welfare system and area’s of cities in for Instance The Hague, Rotterdam and Amsterdam where policies of integration failed tremendously. Also The Netherlands is victim of its own liberal and tolerant society where ‘political correctness’ seemed more important than listening to the people.

UK politics

As a Dutchman who lived in England, went back to The Netherlands and subsequently moved to Scotland, it is astonishing to see what is going on in today’s UK politics.

A1 Northbound

We (should) have learned from the second world war and where discrimination and hatred can lead us. The public ignorance led to the biggest tragedy in human history and it is therefore understandable that Angela Merkel who is herself from Eastern German origin, reached her hand to the refugees who were knocking on Europe’s doors. It was the right thing to do.

Unfortunately the bad handling of the great numbers of refugees led to problems and extremists slipped through as well. This played in the cards of the right wing ‘Alternative für Deutschland’, a right wing anti-immigration political party. What Angela’s elitist political party underestimated, is the fear of thousands of normal Germans, living both rural areas and cities. They are simply afraid of foreigners that look different, don’t speak German, have different eating and drinking habits, religions etc. Previously Germany has been flooded by people from both the middle east as well as from Eastern Europe, and for a large amount of Germans, enough was enough.

Although the AFD’s support is growing, the vast majority of Germans still want to help people in need. I find it totally out of order that Trump blames Merkel of ‘the mess Europe is in’ and that he is using the fight against terrorism to justify his latest travel ban. The refugees come here because of the mess the Americans made themselves by destabilising the middle east.

To put things in perspective, you can class me as a right of centre liberal that supports the Dutch D66 (liberal democrats) and the VVD (conservative or republican from an economical point of view). I have been a chairman of the JOVD, the youth department of the VVD (although we denied that at the time). I have always voted VVD to support the free market and to balance the over regulated bureaucratic and socialist society.

A508 Northampton

In comparison to The Netherlands, the UK is still very much a class society where extravagant wealth lives next to poverty in completely different worlds. This was very noticeable in Northampton where we used to live, but up here in Falkirk, it is rather shocking. What I like about the UK is that the economy and labour market is not as regulated as it is in The Netherlands, making the economy way more flexible to adapt to changing markets (and we will need that over the next coming years..). General taxation is lower, but so is public spending. I also have the impression that the efficiency of public bodies is in need of some improvement. This together with an island mentality and the typical British ‘slow response to change’ and 'short term profit thinking', make parts of the UK look like former Eastern Europe. And that is in my opinion unacceptable for one of the richest countries in the world. In England the NHS is under great pressure to cope with demand and it is said to be underfunded. In Scotland children from poorer families will not get into higher education, ⅔ of the population is overweight and the people in poorer area’s struggle to become older than 50 in good health.

The Kelpies, Falkirk

So you would expect that politicians had better things to do than putting all their energy in Brexit and in the Independence movement. But no, it seems that, that is all that matters. The English Tories blame their own failing on the EU and the Scottish SNP blame it all on the English. What a mess! I would say, get your acts together, unite and start working in a positive way and invest in the future. But hey, I am not a politician.

#Indyref2

A few months ago, I was honoured to be invited by a PR company to a public affairs event in Edinburgh. One of the speakers was the Scottish Government’s Finance secretary Derek MacKay of the SNP. He told an audience of business leaders, public bodies and other organisations of the threat of Brexit. No word about the 15 billion deficit on his own budget of course. He did see opportunities in an independent Scotland, however. I didn't quite understand that, so after the talk (I didn't have the guts to ask it publicly) I had a chat with him and asked why he saw Brexit as a threat and Independence as an opportunity. I have read and heard a lot about the subject in the months that I have been here and couldn't quite grasp the economic thinking behind it. So I was very much looking forward to be finally enlightened. Derek is a nice guy, very approachable and first of all he wanted to make me feel comfortable by saying that I could stay in the country after Brexit. That was of course very kind of him, although the Scottish government has no say in this.

Edinburgh

Expecting an economic answer from a finance secretary seemed logical but I quickly learned why I didn't pursue my career in politics. He said: “you're Dutch aren't you?” I replied of course with 'YES'. To his subsequent question I was totally unprepared: “Do you wanna be ruled by Germany?” And I answered: 'NO'. I know a lot of Germans personally and how much I may like them, I don't wanna be ruled by them. I don't want to be ruled by anybody else than my own elected Dutch government.

In politics you need to be prepared for unexpected questions and need to be able to reply quickly, otherwise you're done. I wasn't trying to make a point however, I just wanted to understand the argument. How naive I was! It took me over 10 minutes and a glass of wine to think of a reply, but by then Derek was in conversation with others.

I like the Germans, I even like the French, but I don't want to be ruled by either of them. And that is exactly what is the case in the EU, as it is now. I have therefore great sympathy for the Brits who voted for Brexit. But trading-in the rule of Westminster for the bureaucrats of Brussels? That is a step to far! If Scotland wants to be independent, well fair enough. It has been a sovereign state until over 300 years or so ago, so if that is what Scotland wants, fine. It is not for me to say or decide, but Scotland please do yourself a favour and don't join the EU.

Great British (cars)

Blogs in English

About time I suppose? 

When you see people struggling with Google Translate to figure out what is written on the Dutch VHF site, perhaps it is time to start blogging in English? 

I (it's Vincent Hartman here) have been thinking about this for quite some time now, but wasn't sure if I should do that on this site or on an English section on the other site or perhaps start with a brand new site. A lot of options all with their pro's and con's. Adding new content is crucial to a site's performance, something I am very aware of.

The amount of visitors on the Dutch VHF site is clearly influenced by blogposts

The amount of visitors on the Dutch VHF site is clearly influenced by blogposts

And the same applies to the Amos Beech website, where blogs and updates on the projects page generate a great deal of interest.

And the same applies to the Amos Beech website, where blogs and updates on the projects page generate a great deal of interest.

A confession

I have a confession to make here, as this is the first blog on the STUDIOVHF site. I haven't even blogged in the Dutch language on this site so why start now in English? The answer is a very simple one and for some of you already very obvious, but I explain anyway! 

I may be an outgoing person, but I have never really felt the need to start blogging or letting the world know on social media what I am doing. This may sound very strange from somebody who has embraced social media wholeheartedly, who has many social media accounts and owns a few websites, but it is true. However, I am a marketeer after all and some of you even call me a salesman. How much Photography may be close to my heart, it is not a hobby but a business. The clients of STUDIOVHF value professional photography both here in Scotland as well as back in The Netherlands, but they are also very much into the marketing communication value of it, not just because they like nice pic's. They want to sell their products and services just as much as I do. And that is where online marketing comes in! 

So one of reasons why I try to engage you and let you read all of this, is a simple one: one day you will buy something from me or from the companies I work for:). The other reason is that blogging plays a key role in Online Marketing

Some examples of blogs on the VHF site

Online Marketing

In online marketing, it is all about building great content, that people like to see and read. If the content is great, people will enjoy it, learn from it and may even like it on social media and share the content with their followers. And that is where linkbuilding comes on. Links from other sites to this site are important for it's performance. The STUDIOVHF site is performing very well in organic traffic in The Netherlands, but here in Scotland there is still a lot to be done. The same applies for the brand new site of Incognito Underfloor Heating a sister company of Amos Beech.

The site was there because that is what a business needs, just like a brochure, a telephone, a business card etc. But that was about it. Over the last couple of months STUDIOVHF SCOTLAND produced a series of images to tell the story of Incognito Heatco, a company that has been supplying and fitting underfloor heating systems and renewable energy systems in Scotland for over 10 years. Now their site performs even worse as this one does in Scotland, so guess who's task it is to turn that around?

STUDIOVHF SCOTLAND

Please don't worry and don't be disappointed when this blog didn't discuss photography or anything that relates to the move from The Netherlands to here.

I know why you read this article and very much appreciate that you made it to the bottom of this page, so please be assured that the following blogs will be about subjects like Photography, Scotland, The Netherlands, cultural differences between NL, Scotland, England and perhaps even Politics? In the near future when I have cleared the backlog in editing work and have time to spend on free photography work, the site will be enriched with a photographers view on Scotland from a Dutch perspective.

All contents, views and opinions will be strictly personal and will not represent any of the clients or companies I work for.

Happy reading, enjoy the photography and please visit this site again!