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"I shoot stuff. Nice to meet you."

▼ #64 • SPORTS PHOTOGRAPHY • NN Marathon Rotterdam 2023

Sunday 16 April 2023 was a not to warm and partially rainy Marathon day but it was good running weather. 

Armed with a Nikon Z9 and a 180-400mm f/4E TC1.4 sports lens I headed to Rotterdam to capture the runners in the field. I managed to put together an album with 393 photos from the absolute top, sub top and of course the recreational runners as well. 

Downloading = FREE! If you're in there, give me a shout when you post anything on your own social media channels by tagging me with "@TPJVerhoevenPhotography". I'd appreciate that.

To go to the album click the image!

▼ #63 • NEW VIDEO • "Syria 2023: We're all people (TRAILER) = OUT NOW!

29 Mar 2023

My brand new YOUTUBE travel web series will launch this Summer and the trailer is out NOW!

I just got back from Syria 🇸🇾 and I've got a lot of Syrian stories to tell. Curious about Syria and can't wait to see it? Click the image or links to watch it right now.

Don't forget to LIKE, SUBSCRIBE and FOLLOW ME on YouTube for the quickest updates about new video's!

► Watch the trailer here ◄

▼ #62 • UP NEXT• Destination Syria 🇸🇾 • Follow me on this trip on Polarsteps!

5 Mar 2023

My next big photography journey/adventure is coming up this week and it sure promises to be a memorable one... Friday -10 March 2023- I will be traveling to Syria 🇸🇾 to embark on my ever second Middle Eastern solo journey! Prior to this major trip I will be exploring the Lebanese city of Beirut after which I will travel to Syria's capital of Damascus on 13 March. From there I will be traveling the entire country in the next 17 days until 27 March. Want to stay up-to-date on my whereabouts during this trip? Be sure to follow me on Polarsteps!

You might have some questions as to why I want to go there in the first place, if it's safe and things like that. Below I have listed some of those questions and provided my answers. 

"Where are you going and what places will you be visiting?" • Despite the recent natural disasters that struck the region, the plan is to stick to my original travel itinerary as much as possible, which I already drew up last Summer. The plan is to visit Damascus, Bosra, Maaloula, Krak des Chevaliers, Tartous, Latakia, Homs, Hama, Aleppo and Palmyra. The trip ends after 17 days on 28 March after which I will travel back to The Netherlands.

"Isn't it downright dangerous to go there?" • The country is designated "Not safe to travel to" by my country's state department in its entirety. On their website is a map and the entire country of Syria is a red zone. It's accompanied by warnings and messages that are strongly advising against traveling to this country if at all possible. Additionally, The Netherlands -together with most Western nations- doesn't have an embassy in Damascus anymore, meaning that the nearest one is in Ankara, Türkiye. Meaning in turn that when things go wrong, I have little or no help from official foreign governmental bodies. So to answer this question: yes, to some degree it might very well be dangerous. The country has been torn apart be a brutal civil war and the extremely real threat of IS/ISIS/Daesh that followed in the aftermath of the Arab Spring back in 2011. Syria has only recently been recovering from this -still ongoing- conflict before it was hit again hard by the severe earthquakes that devestated the already crippled North of the country in early February 2023 not once but twice as far as we know to date. Foreign aid is reaching this region very sparesly and even getting there is a very difficult endeavour. In terms of human casualties: over 5.000 people have died and a multitude of that number has been injured. The conclusion: things aren't favourable at all to be a tourist in Syria at the moment if they ever were for the past decade or so. All in all... No, I do not have a death wish, but does all of this stop me from wanting to go there? No, it does not.

"Why do you want to go to Syria?" • In short: I like old things. Syria most definitely has got everything to offer on that front. But allow me to elaborate on that a bit more. I have been dreaming about going to Syria for over more than a decade. The country is situated in the region that is considered to be the craddle of human civilisation. Syria has a few of the oldest cities on the entire planet, dating back as early as 8.000~10.000 BC(!) Those cities predate everything we have here in the West. To put that into perspective: while the early humans in The Netherlands were still walking around in the mud, cities like Aleppo and Damascus already were flourishing. Why I want to go there? To simply experience that myself.

"Are you a journalist, a photographer or a tourist?" • I am very much a tourist, but even more so, I'm a world traveler -yet one with a heavy interest in photography and with an above average camera system. I will not travel purposely to the no go areas, but the northern Syrian city of Aleppo is part of my original travel plan. I will adapt to the safety situation. My local guides are providing me with daily updates on where it is and isn't safe. I simply will go where they go. It's not my intention to be a disaster tourist at all, nor am I a journalist by profession. People are actually suffering and dying there. They can very well do without me and my camera. I do not go look for dangerous places. Having said that, I did instruct my travel agency that my local guidance team doesn't need to shelter me from any raw parts of the country. I want to get to know the country in all of its facets. The good, the bad and the ugly. I want to be a true traveler, not a tourist, pampered and constantly cared for during the entire trip. This isn't traveling in safe regions. This is considered extreme tourism.

"Aren't you a bit worried for your own safety?" • Well... to be honest, I am a bit anxious, yes. Then again, that is exactly the reason I want to go to Syria, because based on my experience, I am fairly certain I have no reason to be that anxious. Granted, I have been seeing the same horrible things on the evening news for the past decade as everyone else. And I do recognise and acknowledge the severity of the things that have taken place there. So, solely based on that information, traveling there might indeed be... dodgy. However, my curiosity is bigger because I refuse to believe that this is the only side of the Syrian story. And judging by others that recently went before me, I believe there's far more to this intriguing Middle Eastern country than the things we have been seeing on the news. I want to be one of the people that has a role in changing that negative narrative that stands for over 12+ years, however small it may be.

"What made you decide to finally book a ticket?" • For one, this very article on the Dutch NOS news site (Summer, 2022). Next, there are some very compelling and truly gripping YouTube documentary masterpieces from people who traveled there recently before me. Additionally their stories inspired me to go on this trip as well. Also, I've been reading up on this country since a long time before all of this. I know for a fact that Syria used to be a major tourist destination in the Middle East before it all went down the drain, so they still must have a ton of experience with welcoming people from all over the world, simply since they've been doing that for far longer than the "recent" troubles. I have given it much thought and no, this is not me being naive. This is me being realistic, thinking logically and plainly. My Middle Eastern experiences so far have been nothing but great. I have little reason to believe Syria might be any different. It's all about perspective.

"Exactly how will you be safe?/Is it a solo trip?" • I indeed will be traveling to Syria on my own. No one is going with me. My safety will be watched over by a local team of guides and drivers. They know where to go and when we need to deviate from the original travel plans in case of any safety issues. We won't be traveling to war zones. Period. Those regions are closed for tourists anyway, so even if I wanted to go there, I wouldn't be able to and to be fair: I do not want to.

"Why travel via Lebanon?" • There are no direct flights from Amsterdam to Damascus anymore these days. I will fly to the Lebanese capital of Beirut where I will be staying for 3 days to acclimatise do some sightseeing as well. Beirut for me is a bonus on this trip. On the third day early in the morning a driver will pick me up and together we will travel to Damascus, which is about 115km away. He will help with the necessary border crossing formalities and translations if needed. Once we arrive in Damascus I will meet up with the local team and if there's time, we might do some evening exploring of Syria's capital already. That's when the 17 day exploration truly begins. On my last day I will be driven back to the airport of Beirut from Damascus in order to fly home straight away.

"Is this a sponsored trip?" • No, it is not. No one is paying me. I'm making this entire trip on my own expenses in my own time. Wanting to go to Syria purely stems from personal interest and I have no sponsors and no affiliations with any people, brand, company or organisations whatsoever that require me to say or don't say certain things. Not before, during nor after.

"What are you personally hoping to get out of this trip?" • The recent natural disaster has provided an additional goal for me. If at all possible I will try to donate some form of aid to some charity that tries to help the victims, but that is not the main goal of the trip. Of course I will help if I can and if I'm in a position to do so. But overall, I am hoping for new and unforgettable experiences, seeing awesome sights from a part of the world not many go to. Most important to me: proof that Syria isn't solely that what we see on the evening news. Also, a chance of a lifetime to be one of the few tourists that ventures into Syria in this time and age, to simply witness a fairly unspoiled destination and to help the outside world in rediscovering this country with its immensely rich history. In the end I wish for engaging human interest stories which hopefully result in of course... tons and tons of awesome and unique footage, both photos and videos, which I then will be able to present to you and to the world right here on my website in the weeks and months afterwards.

"Can I follow your Syrian adventures live?" • Yes, you most certainly can! Add me right here on Polarsteps. When and if I have cellphone service I will make sure to regularly update all of my followers on my whereabouts live during the entire trip.

Have a good one and see you on Polarsteps!

▼ #61 • TRAVEL BLOG • Iceland 🇮🇸: The land of ice & fire

31 Jan 2023

7 day trip to a unique city and unique landscapes in a unique country...

This trip was most definitely one of a kind. I traveled to Iceland with travel and Iceland specialist Fotoreisspecialist to the Western part of Iceland: the remote peninsula of Snæfellsnes. Two days in Iceland's capital of Reykjavik preceded this unique photo travel.

The goal was to capture nature, landscapes and of course... the mystical, natural phenomenon of the Northern light. The in-depth article will appear in near future. But first: here is the first batch of amazing photos which I am very, truly very happy with.

Click here for the photos. Enjoy!

▼ #60 TRAVEL BLOG • Jordan 🇯🇴: About guests and friends

9 Jan 2023

Al-Khazneh - Petra, Jordan (Nov 2022)

YAAAAAAS! I finally went to Jordan 🇯🇴 to see things and shoot stuff.

And it was awesome. The five day trip took place half November 2022. I went on my very first solo trip to the Middle East and I had only one mission: to see the ancient city of Petra with my own eyes and to photograph, experience and document everything. In short: that mission was a great succes because I gained a lot more than the 1.400 photographs alone... Because I also got a ton of awesome stories and a lot of fun and cool experiences which I'll treasure for the rest of my life, to be exact.

This extensive travel blog will be launched online officially in the upcoming weeks. Stay tuned for more!

▼ #59 • BLOG • Happy 2023 everyone

4 Jan 2023

2022 is over and 2023 has started off pretty awesome so far. During 2022 I've expanded my experience into other photography fields. I went on several awesome photography trips and I bought some new gear. Businesswise it has been a very good year.

I learned a lot

Towards the end of 2022 I wanted to do something more with my nightlife photography skills. I don't go out partying as much as I used to anymore (it's an age thing), but I am still behind 'the wheels of steel' as a DJ several nights a week. In case you didn't know this: before I became a professional photographer, DJing solely payed the bills. Today my camera comes along on almost every DJ gig as well. But when it comes to nightlife photography that's also the downside: while playing music and entertaining the crowds, I simply cannot do both at the same time.

Luckily I happen to know a few nightlife photographers of my own and I got some nights off from DJing around November/December. During those months my favourite camera shop sales girl (Hoekelement Photography) -who's also a gifted photographer herself- let me tag along on some of her photography jobs. She often snaps the photos in the bars where I play music and outside of work we go on the occiasional photography trip together. And besides the fact that she's as easy going as I am, she's also a Nikon pro user, so it's definitely fun to swap equipment and learn from each other.

In December I went to all kinds of parties, pubs and bars to practice my flash photography skills. Since it was also FIFA World Cup time and the Dutch team wasn't half bad, the opportunities to become better at it were plentiful. It went so well that it even landed me a few jobs of my own!

I gained new gear

I bought two new identical flash guns. From the Hähnel MODUS 600RT MKII I switched to the Godox Vn1. This one is a breeze to operate and renders very tasty results on the Nikon Z9. (Click here to see for yourself). The results from photos taken with my former Hähnel MODUS 600RT MKII flash gun were... not satisfactory. The new flash gun is so much easier to operate and the magnetic dome shaped omnibounce light diffuser is very convenient.

Having two of everything simply equals being smart. I got myself a lot of gigs where two cameras came in handy. However I also increasingly ran into the problem of having to deal with two different camera systems. During 2022 I used the Nikon Z6II and the Z9. Setting up and using the Z9 to its full potential automatically resulted in operating problems when using it next to the Z6II. Some features are not present in the other camera. Some are, but some menu options or buttons are in different places.  Both cameras also have a different feel and react differently in terms of speed and accuracy. Having to constantly switch between systems was becoming a bigger inconvenience for me each time.

It occasionally even resulted in missing some photo opportunities because I was fondling with the buttons or menu options in the other camera. It's like the Z6II is a bad camera, but there's one distinct problem with it: it's not a Z9. Therefore I already concluded very soon fter buying the Z9 back in January 2022 that a second Z9 would be the best thing ever. Money was the issue back then. Fortunately that was until the very last day of 2022, because that day I finally had the opportunity for a second Z9. I got the Z6II via Nikon Pro Lease and it has been fully payed off since last month. I am going to sell it asap though to redeem some money from the investment in the new camera.

I went on trips again

Covid is not over completely yet, but luckily in my country herd immunity is at peak levels apparently. Anyway, our borders are open again so I went on several cool urbexing trips across Western Europe. Mainly in The Netherlands, Belgium, Germany and the UK. I also went on multiple day solo trips to London and Glasgow around Summer. But my highlight of 2022 travels was definitely Petra, Jordan, where I went in November.

Those were all great trips and I consider these preparations for what's to come in 2023. I will be traveling to Iceland (January), Syria (March) and Spitsbergen (June). These have all been booked and confirmed at this point. There's also a city trip to Dresden scheduled in August and I am currently looking into a photography trip to another unorthodox destination for Octobre: the mystical land of Iraq. Finally, for the one that I am very much looking forward to as well I have to wait a little bit longer: until March 2024. Because then I will be going to... Antarctica! Let's go, penguins!

2023 plans 

There are a lot of plans as you can imagine, but first and foremost I make sure that I can keep enjoying what I have already been doing all along. Business is good. It's even going to expand beyond the Dutch borders. I will have to dust off my French for some.

And to all photography lovers out there: I am also curious what you have been up to and what you will be doing in the upcoming year. Maybe you can use my tips, help or advice to crank up your own photography game. Don't hesitate to ask. For now, best wishes to all of you and keep on shooting. Just make 2023 your year!

▼ #58 • PUBLISHED WORK • I am the sole image supplier of Breda.nl!

7 Dec 2022

Definitely proud, because the city council hired me exclusively

All images on the official website of my hometown of Breda in the South of The Netherlands (which is the 10th largest city in the country) are mine. Since a month I am de official and sole supplier om all photographical work for this project. Truly honoured. Curious how it all looks?

Click on this link to go to the website of Breda.nl.

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