Richard Terborg is a conceptual fashion, portrait and fine-art photographer from Holland. Known for his bold and crazy colors, Richard is just as bold and crazy in real life. In a fun way, not a ruin your life way. Terborg got into photography for documenting purposes. Before he left Curacao (the island where he was born) when he was 17 years of age, his parents gave him a little point and shoot. This was so he could show them his house, school, friends in that far away country the Netherlands. And this is what he did. And somewhere in updating his family with new selfies every week (keep in mind this was before phones had cameras, and the word selfie didn't exist yet), he started to make the selfies more interesting. Just as a little news flash fun snippet to keep them updated.
I would send staged photos with captions like 'the kitchen is on fire mom, but I'm still okay! They have a lot of drugs in this country mom, but I'm staying away from it.'
These were the titles of his first selfies and Terborg would fill his little student apartment with props and friends for the images he was emailing back home. Over time and all through college, photography has always been by his side. He documented life and slowly it also became a medium for Terborg to translate ideas and images he had in his brain to something he could do and make.Terborg then goes on to talk about his old job in I.T.
I would take longer lunch breaks, figuring out how lenses work, how aperture works. Just trying to nail the technique the best I could. After the break, I would run back to the office, upload the image to Flickr, and then interact with the community throughout the rest of the day. Seeing what they are making, commenting. Asking questions.
It is here he became friends with people like Ben Von Wong and Renee Robyn. They were still shooting flowers and events. Slowly they started sharing ideas. Normally when Terborg would ask a photographer for tips, he would get the this is my recipe and I shall never share my recipe. But with Ben and Renee it was the first time he could just have an adult conversation and hear what the other one was thinking and doing. From that, he rolled into what he calls "people photography".
Terborg claims fashion is something he fell into.
I don't believe one can chase a fashion style or trend. Its a battle you are already loosing. I've seen so many photographers try to be a Fashion photographer by mimicking a style not realizing it's their own voice and art style they should be looking for, and when fashion is 'ready' for your style it will come.
Terborg got into fashion by finding cool designers to work with. People that are at the front of the “fashion” industry. People that fit his personality and character. The designers that create a story through a clothing line or a cool big costume. It's those stories he wanted to hear and translate back into the shoots they would do together. But in hindsight, Terborg says he just needed cool clothes to shoot his models in. He would contact people he looked up too, who he had seen in his friend's portfolios. He would then try and talk and pitch a cool concept or wait until they were looking for new people to work with. Anything to get a foot in the door. Terborg can now happily call some of these people his friends.
For Terborg the color in his work comes from where he grew up. The paint on the island houses, the street signs, tv commercials, and streets have bold colors. The light around those parts of the world between noon and before dark is so crisp and saturated. Terborg grew up around very bold and saturated colors. To him, it kinda comes naturally and feels natural. When he uses color gels in front of his lights he never plans. Terborg knows color theory very well and what works together and what doesn't. But he does not sit around to plan a light scheme, apart from what the color of the scene and models outfit is. He usually looks for designers or clothing designs with bold colors. And then he tries to match the surrounding/environment or the lighting from there.
Terborg's studio shooting kit consists of an Olympus EMx and Canon 5D mk2. His lenses are Sigma 50mm f/1.4 ART, Canon 28mm f/1.8, and the Olympus 25mm f/1.2. Alongside he uses TetherTools cables tethered to an old second-hand mac laptop with Capture One. Lights wise he uses Elinchrom. Ranging from the ELC1000s too the ELB500 and ELB400.
Modifiers he does not have a lot but he manages. Ninety five percent of the time Terborg says he uses the Elinchrom Rotalux 100cm Deep Octabox. And for other special occasions, he will use a Beauty Dish or a big 175cm Octa with a Lee Filter Colored Gel or Jake Hicks Color Gel Packs. Not forgetting his trusty reflector.
Terborg then goes on to talk about Location. When he shoots on location depending if hes shooting natural light he doesn't bring any lights. Maybe just a reflector to bounce some light around. Though when using flash photography outdoor he of course brings a magnum flashlight! Kidding, he uses the Elinchrom ELB400 and ELB500.
Terbog remarks on how these things pack very small (which is good for someone who travels a lot) and that they both fit nicely in his Fstop bag including the camera. So for him, that's awesome to travel with. If you then Add a 100cm deep umbrella or the 100cm deep octa Terborg says we have a kit for on the move.
Terborg warns anyone starting out with the desire to create images like himself or work within a fashion niche that It takes a lot of time and patience. He says you have to shoot, shoot a lot! Keep finding your voice. Find your style, find who you are and ask yourself “why do you make what you make?” every day.
He advises finding other creatives.
Help. Be a good person. I sound like the “Baz Lurmans” wear sunscreen song. But in all seriousness, finding other designers/creatives in their own fields to collaborate with is what I've done the most and has given me the best return. Also just be a kind person in general and it will open new doors to either free or paid work.
Terborg not only shoots but edits and retouches his images. He will export to Photoshop for the skin retouching and color corrections or liquify things into place. Eighty-five percent of his editing time is spent in Photoshop using a Wacom Tablet. Terborg claims he couldn't do anything without it. The mouse was thrown away many years ago. But with a graphic designer background, he has been in Photoshop for what feels like all his life.
Most photographers usually have a stand out project that changed their life but Terborg says It is very hard to pick out one because this would do all the other cool projects he has worked on an injustice. Let's just say Terborg takes away something from almost every collaboration. Every new person he meets or gets to share a space and time with he says he has learned something. So in that way every day a person makes a little impact and he tries to do the same for others.
Terborg has wise words for anyone starting out to not worry about gear or lenses, or to worry about if you will ever be better or what life may bring.
If you worry you'll eventually find out that you were worried for nothing which is a waste of a “worry”. When it actually is something you needed to worry about then you will have been worried about it twice which is once too many. Although I probably wouldn't have listened when I was starting. I'm stubborn like that.
2019 has been fantastic for Terborg so far. He has just finished wrapping up a very cool Photography week in Amsterdam which he organized together with a big theatre company. They supplied the venue and Tereborg filled it with cool workshops and events for photographers. Coming up in October Terborg is also getting ready to fly out to for Lightmatters PPOC in Alberta, Canada. If that was not enough he is also working on a little book which will take him back to his roots in Curacao.
When I ask where Terborg sees himself in ten years I get the reply.
I don't know, hopefully, a little older a little wiser. Still trying to help people and having fun doing it.
If you have not already, be sure to check Richard out on social media. Not only does he post amazing imagery but also many humorous posts that you do not want to miss out on. If the style of his work is something you would like to see dissected, then Richard is currently about to reveal a secret project called Mango Ice which he is part of with many other amazing photographers.
Great article - thanks for sharing!