Jaap Berghoef is a marvelous artist who lives in the Netherlands. His photographs https://jaapberghoef-fotografie.com/ are really tributes to movement and Impressionism. When I first saw his work on social media, I knew I had to chat with him and so, here we go …

“…The purpose of art in my opinion is to stimulate one or more senses, your mind and your emotions. The purpose of art is thus, to generate any kind of amazement and to raise questions: Why did the artist make this? Do I find it beautiful or not? Does it really look like this? What feeling does it awaken in me?”

MICHAEL: Hello Jaap, Your work is very intriguing. These blurred photographs that you're doing excite me and depress me at the same time. They're beautifully done, but they also make me think about how life is so fragile. They make me think that things can often fade away. We get older, we lose our balance and our vision isn't as good, so things go out of focus. I don't know. Why do you create these photos?

JAAP: Hello Michael, If you are standing on top of a hill and you quickly follow the horizon with your eyes, shapes flow into one another. Colors seem to blend and relatively small elements merge with rough lines and planes. As if a giant paintbrush follows your eyes and with a few large brushstrokes, it paints an abstract or impressionist view of the landscape in front of you.

What remains of the landscape are the main colors, the slopes and, depending on the speed at which you move your head, just a few faded details.

That is the essence of a landscape, a minimalist view in larger plain or an impressionist view of, for example, a path in a forest. 

For me, that is the opposite of frail and transient, because whether you get older and your vision is getting less or when a village expands with new housing or a road is built, the essence of a landscape remains, the 'large surfaces' remain intact.

Only the seasons and light change the colors and textures of the landscape and the forest and I try to capture that in my “movement photos.”

MICHAEL: So you're showing us movement and landscapes in transition. How do you achieve this effect? Do you try to take blurry photos or do you use Photoshop for any of the photos?

JAAP: I achieve this effect by using a relatively slow shutter speed (approximately 0.4 to 1 second) and moving the camera during shooting, the so-called, “Motion Blur.”

The movement for an abstract landscape photo is relatively slow and parallel to the horizon; a movement for an abstraction of a forest is faster and vertical, parallel to the trunks of the trees. An up-and-down motion can result in an impressionist photo.

I make all my photos with only a relatively simple camera set to manual. I use no filters or effects in the camera. I also do not use photo-editing programs like Photoshop to create an abstract or impressionist photo. I combine knowledge of light and the basics of photography with the experience and skill in various movements that result in the different effects. 

Also for my other favorite subject, largely blurred macro-photos with a visible grain, especially of flowers and plants, I do not use any editing software. Don't get me wrong, a well-edited photo can be beautiful, but I think it's another profession. I'm a photographer.

MICHAEL: Jaap, you've just mentioned something that I've always wondered about photo-editing and manipulation and photography. Do you think photography is more artistic than photo manipulation or is photo manipulation more artistic than simple photography?

JAAP: For me, the two are not comparable. Photo editing comes after taking the photo and has nothing to do with photography. I prefer to call it image editing, the image can be a photograph, but also a digitally-produced image like a drawing made on computer.

Whether it is a “pure” photo, an edited photo or a completely digitally-produced image, all three can be artistic. What appeals most is up to the viewer to decide.

For me personally, there are very few edited or manipulated photos that I like. I'm also not a fan of “postcard photos,” although I sometimes really appreciate the skills of the photographer who makes such photos.

The same goes for other art forms. I certainly don't like all paintings or painting styles, but a painting I do not like, still can be painted very professionally-done.

MICHAEL: When did you first become aware of yourself as an artist? Do you come from an artistic family?

JAAP: I only recently started to see myself as an artist. In 2015, I was asked to exhibit a series of photos that I made of musical instruments, in a store where harps are sold. Around the same time, I began to receive increasingly positive and enthusiastic responses to my high ISO macro photos of flowers and plants, a theme I call “Sensitive Nature.”

In my opinion, I could not exhibit without a website, so I made it at high speed so that it would be ready in time, well before the opening of the exhibition. Because of the interest in my photographs, I started looking for ways to sell them. 

Actually, you can say that the invitation for an exhibition and the sale of the first photos, gave me the feeling that people see my photos as art.

MICHAEL: That’s fantastic. And do you come from an artistic family?

JAAP: I do not come from an artistic family. My father made occasional vacation photos. He allowed me to use his camera now and then when I was about eight years old. Since childhood, I have been very interested in those devices and I whined so often with my father that I wanted to take a picture with his camera, that he gave me his old camera when I was 10. An Agfa Click. I still have it. I come from a family of hard-working people in many different professions and am actually the first (as far as I know) who made his profession with his artistic skill.

MICHAEL: Finally Jaap, What is the purpose of art? Why should people care about art? Most people don't buy art. They would rather buy an iPhone. What does art really do for people?

JAAP: The purpose of art in my opinion is to stimulate one or more senses, your mind and your emotions. The purpose of art is thus, to generate any kind of amazement and to raise questions: Why did the artist make this? Do I find it beautiful or not? Does it really look like this? What feeling does it awaken in me?

The art which activates senses, mind and emotions, deserves the name “Art.”

MICHAEL: Very true.

JAAP: Some people get butterflies in their stomachs when seeing a new iPhone, others when seeing a beautiful photo or painting. Fortunately, there are many new phones and fortunately many beautiful works of art are made.

Much art has the potential to captivate you for a long time. Every time you look at it, you discover something new. When people say to me, “I find that photograph so beautiful, I keep looking at it,” then I know that photo does to that person what I describe above. And that's so good to hear!

MICHAEL: Well, it’s no surprise to me at all that people are moved by your work. I love it as well. Thanks for chatting.

JAAP: And I thank you Michael, for providing this opportunity to introduce myself to your readers. I also found the conversation fun and interesting.

Check out Jaap Berghoef at https://jaapberghoef-fotografie.com/.