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Hashtag365 Photographers Sjoerd Spendel And Lennart de Jong Interview

Hashtag365 became the most viewed Tumblr account in the Netherlands. Here we interview the two photographers behind the project.

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Closed, New York City 2011

'Closed', New York City, 2011

Hashtag365 is a photography project that was undertaken 3 years ago by friends Sjoerd Spendel and Lennart de Jong. News quickly spread, and the project soon became the biggest Tumblr account in the Netherlands. Now, a book containing select images from the project is to be released. We spoke to Sjoerd and Lennart to find out more about them and how they came to undertake the project. 

 

Tell us a bit about yourselves and your backgrounds.

Lennart: I live in Amsterdam, work in advertising, take photographs and I’m always hungry to travel. Currently, I work as sr. creative at an Amsterdam-based ad agency.

Sjoerd: I'm Sjoerd Spendel. I'm 23 years old and I study Small Business & Retail Management in The Hague. I have my own creative company (SJOERDSPENDEL) and love to create content (photography, video, text). The best things in life are freshly made coffee, bread and swimming in the sea. I love to travel and I'm a city person. About 3 years ago we started a 365 project together which became the biggest Tumblr account in the Netherlands. 

 

How did you get into photography?

Lennart: My first camera experience was when I helped fix my dad’s old SLR at the age of 12. The system’s mirror was broken and by accident I fixed it. Taking photographs with this camera made me super curious. 

Sjoerd: I was the tech kid at home in an age where the old film cameras got replaced by digital cameras. My father always took all of the family shots on holidays and special occasions. After we got our first digital camera, I took the opportunity to use the camera more. I loved the feeling of getting the exact shot I wanted. From that moment, I was hooked.

Epic and Maxine, Scheveningen 2013

'Epic and maxine', Scheveningen, 2013

What gave you the idea for a 365 photo challenge?

Lennart: At the time we started our blog we both were using our cameras and were already sharing lots of photos online. It was Sjoerd who started numbering his uploaded photos. After a couple of days, I joined Sjoerd to run this 365 project back to back and so the story began. 

 

Why did you go with black and white images?

Shooting in black and white helped us understand how composition and light work together in a picture. Besides, we have both always preferred the black and white style since starting in photography. Photos feel a little more timeless and it’s another experience in this digital age where people (ourselves included) shoot a lot of photos in colour with our mobile phones. During our project, we also found out that our online following liked the black and white photos. Their feedback helped us to finish the project in black and white. 

Robin & Stefan, Worerden 2010

'Robin & Stefan', Worerden, 2010

Did you ever get stuck for inspiration some days? If so how did you combat this?

Sure, producing a photo every day was and is hard. It forced us to be creative and get the best out of the day and situation. More than ever it made us realise that beauty is all around us. And that even with a simple camera you can get beautiful pictures on a boring day.

 

Tell us about the kit you use and why you like it.

The photos in our project are shot with many different cameras. From a Canon 7D and a Yashica T4 to a iPhone 6 and a GoPro. In our kit you will also find a Leica D-lux 6 and an old Mamiya. We really like to work with different types of cameras and use different kinds of settings. The GoPro brought us some crazy footage in the Australian waters and the Leica D-lux 6 became a hands-on camera which is perfect for city photography. We found out that smartphones are also capable of making amazing pictures on sunny days. The DSLRs are perfect for the darker urban exploring sights. 

Broken windows, Amsterdam

'Broken windows', Amsterdam 2011

What's it like to become an overnight internet sensation? Did you expect this to go viral?

We both never thought that our pictures would attract so many people. When we hit 30,000 followers we received a call from Het Parool (Dutch Newspaper) for an interview. A few months later we were featured on Dutch television. It was insane and we never expected it! Releasing our own book is still an unreal feeling.

 

Do you have any tips for someone taking on a 365 photo challenge?

Try different things! A lot of different things. Different camera, different city, different settings. Find out what suits you best and then, stick to it and get really good at it. Photography is for us getting the best out every situation. Looking at things from a different angle every time helps you get further in life. Play with light and darkness. In photography and in life.


Hashtag365 by Spendel & de Jong is available on 26 March from Clearview Books for £25. Take a look at the Hashtag365 website for more images from the pair. 

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