Daan Oude Elferink not only travels the globe taking part in Affordable Art Fairs as far reaching as Hong Kong to New York to Amsterdam, but is also a professional photographer with a unique subject matter. Turning his passion into his profession, Daan spends his time exploring abandoned and desolate buildings and photographing their interiors, the results being hauntingly beautiful scenes; both aesthetically decaying and frozen in time. It’s no surprise that Daan’s photographs are universally accessible and loved, even being purchased at our Hong Kong fair, by a Dutch collector!
We caught up with Daan in a rare moment that he was relaxing at home in the Netherlands, to ask him about his devotion to desolate, abandoned and hidden buildings.
MEET PHOTOGRAPHER DAAN OUDE ELFERINK
1. Tell us a bit about your practice…
Abandoned, forbidden and decayed are the keywords for my work. I capture the beauty of amazing buildings and objects all over the world that are slowly decaying with time - becoming more beautiful but also more dangerous. The adventure to capture the shot is as important as the photo itself. Climbing rooftops, crawling through sewers, avoiding security guards and never knowing how safe it really is. I try to always capture that tension and excitement in my work. I print the photographs on special materials, and they are sold all over the world in art fairs and art galleries. Traveling gallery Ronen Art Gallery shows my work in almost every Affordable Art Fair in the world!
2. Where does your interest in photography as a medium come from?
In 2008 I saw a photo on the internet of an old abandoned fortress and I was fascinated by it. I searched the web to find the location, drove to Belgium, climbed over the fence and fell in love with a beautiful decaying staircase. Because nobody was allowed to see that beauty I bought a camera and started taking pictures for the first time. So my interest in photography really started because of the subject.
3. What inspires your work?
I get inspired by the surroundings I shoot in. I walk around an abandoned place not knowing what to expect. The beauty of decay ignites my imagination and that (together with the excitement) gives me the inspiration for my photos.
4. If you hadn’t become a photographer – what do you think you would be doing instead?
Before I explored and photographed abandoned places for a living I was the co-owner of a software company. However, I have always been interested in creative professions like graphic design or animation, special effects in movies or something like that.
5. How would you describe a typical day in the studio?
I always say that my studio is the world. Of course, I have an office where I process my photos, but the biggest part of my job is traveling and exploring abandoned places all over the world. And my travels are not exactly typical, every day is completely different. For example, two days ago I explored and photographed an abandoned secret military airbase in Croatia. An amazing airplane was still left behind and fully overgrown with bushes that are filled with unexploded landmines!
6. What would you say are the most rewarding and the most challenging aspects of being an artist today?
The most rewarding part is definitely is the fact that people appreciate my art. The best example I can give is that once a lady from Stockholm called me, she had seen my work at the fair and said to me “I just wanted to say, thank you for what you do”. I had goosebumps all over! That somebody just felt the urge to pick up the phone and just tell me that, isn’t that the best compliment anybody can get?
7. What do you have in store over the coming months?
Tomorrow morning, I am flying to Cyprus for 4 days to photograph an abandoned airport [an airport that was abandoned after the Cyprus conflict of 1974, once captured Daans work will be presented at the upcoming Affordable Art Fair Amsterdam]. After that in September and October I will be traveling to Portugal, Germany and twice to Italy.
8. As an artist, how and why do you look for gallery representation?
Making art and selling art are two completely different things. I need to focus on what I love doing the most: exploring and making new photos and meanwhile the gallery is doing what he loves doing most. Perfect teamwork!
9. What advice would you give to any aspiring artists reading this interview?
In the beginning, when I was looking for ways to improve my photography, what worked for me was to look at other pictures on the web. For the ones I liked, I asked myself why I liked it so much? Is it the colour? The composition? This helped me when considering my own work. But, for me the most important thing is to not think commercially. I don’t want to shoot a place just because it will make money. If I will do that, I will lose my passion. I want to shoot everything I want, even places that nobody wants to have on their wall. That’s why I always say that photography is my hobby and being an artist is my profession.
To see Daan's stunning work in person, visit Affordable Art Fair Amsterdam (1 – 4 November). Click here to buy tickets »
Daan Oude Elferink, Off The Wall, photograph, limited edition, Ronen Art Gallery.
Featured art from first to last:
Daan Oude Elferink's risky logistic to catch his image The 13th Floor.
Daan Oude Elferink, Ancient Passage, photograph, limited edition, Ronen Art Gallery.
Daan Oude Elferink, Silent Applause, photograph, limited edition, Ronen Art Gallery.
Daan Oude Elferink, The 13th Floor, photograph, limited edition, Ronen Art Gallery.
Daan Oude Elferink, The Hidden Barn, photograph, limited edition, Ronen Art Gallery.
All pieces listed above are available as editions of 8 in two sizes. 1m x 1.5m at €4200 and 80 x 1.20 m at €3620.