Dutch-Brit, Photographer Tom van Schelven in collaboration with WePresent unveils his series “In Flight” shot in Atlantis Dunes in South Africa.
Growing up in Manchester in the UK he was naturally surrounded by youth culture, and started out trying to document this lifestyle, feeling that others attempting the same weren’t capturing the emotion as candidly as they could. As a photographer Tom has always liked to separate his subjects from their natural setting and shoot them in a sparsity of environment, creating a point of difference and allowing the juxtaposition to inform his narrative. The environment, though, is all that he engineers. Once he has them there, he simply captures every moment. “The key thing is an authentic expression,” he says. “I hate telling people how to ‘be’ in a photograph, but I try to engineer situations that are naturally what I want to capture.”
These off-guard moments are something Tom always manages to catch. “A lot of the time I shoot people while I’m talking to them or while I’m explaining the shoot, because I like that awkward, confused look,” he says. “I want people to look at my work and think it’s an off the cuff snapshot, even though it’s slightly more engineered than it might seem.”
In Flight is an example of Tom’s love for those candid moments between subject and lens. The project shows a group of acrobats in the desert, backflipping over sand dunes and tumbling through the air against a backdrop of brilliant blue skies. “When I’m shooting movement, there’s a lot of interesting bits I can photograph without directing,” he says. A lot of the frames weren’t shot at the moment you might expect. “I wasn’t trying to shoot them at the apex of the backflip, it was more the moment slightly before and slightly afterward, when not everything is perfect in terms of expression or movement.”
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