x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Sights on life’s journey

We meet Wouter Kingma, a photographer, visual artist and adventure junkie who's having his first solo exhibition in Dubai and launching an online store.

An image from Wouter Kingma's Footsteps of Thesiger series. Wouter Kingma
An image from Wouter Kingma's Footsteps of Thesiger series. Wouter Kingma

A harp player on a deck over the Dubai Marina, a bride in her wedding dress in the UAE desert and an aerial shot of the Burj Al Arab – these are just a few of the images in Wouter Kingma’s portfolio. But what makes him different from other photographers in the region is that his work is available to buy from what he claims is the UAE’s first online digital photo store.

“I don’t know of anyone who has an online photo library for sale with prints of different sizes – limited and unlimited – that is a handcrafted service rather than a mass-produced one,” says Kingma, a Dutch national who has been living in Dubai for 11 years.

Taking the plunge

Although he had always enjoyed it as a hobby, Kingma’s passion for photography was really sparked in 2005 when he travelled to Laos and Thailand with Land Rover, his former employer, and saw professional photographers at work. It was after that trip that he made the move into freelance work – first selling his house so he could afford the equipment.

After becoming successful, he showed his work in a few public places such as More Café and Fitness First health clubs and had a really positive reaction.

“After a while, I had so much great content that, rather than letting it collect digital dust on a hard drive, the next logical step was to make it available to buy in prints and to create an online ­infrastructure.”

Art on the move

Now describing himself as a visual artist and an adventure junkie who thinks about photography all the time and is always on the lookout for his next shot, Kingma is enjoying his first solo exhibition. Titled Art on the Move, it will feature images under four themes: Arabia Arabia, Emirates Aerials, Movement and Footsteps of Thesiger, which captures the expedition across the Empty Quarter undertaken by Adrian Hayes to re-enact that of Wilfred Thesiger in the 1950s.

Hosted at Create! in the Courtyard in Al Quoz, Kingma will launch the web shop, also called Art on the Move, at the same time as the ­exhibition.

“The shop came out of the desire to reproduce something that I am proud of and that I would love other people to have on their walls,” he explains.

Shopping online

On Kingma’s website is a collection of images showing people, places and architecture around the UAE and beyond. If you order online, then the print is delivered to your doorstep with a printed story that Kingma calls the conversation piece.

“It is a unique story about the image. Sometimes it is where I shot it or why, what happened, what went wrong and how the picture came together. When it is bought, it is sold with the story, which is a conversation between me and the person who buys it and at the same time a conversation between the person who buys it and their friends. It’s important to connect with the image you buy.”

Support

Thanks to his years of work in the automobile industry, first on the marketing side and then with his photography, Kingma has managed to secure support from Audi Middle East for this exhibition.

Trevor Hill, the managing director of Audi Middle East, says that the company has worked with Kingma for many years.

“It is a great pleasure for us to promote his talents and add to the region’s cultural scene.

“Wouter’s collection will inspire and entertain with his portfolio of brilliant photography, relating to all those living in the Middle East,” he says.

• Art on The Move runs until ­Monday at Create!, The Courtyard, Al Quoz, Dubai. Visit www.artonthemove.me

aseaman@thenational.ae