ViewBug community member Maaike Schauer is a 33-year-old photographer from Vaals, South Limburg. For her, photography is a form of communication, an outlet, an art form, a hobby, and her work since March 2015. Maaike worked as a teacher, speech therapist, and advisor in special and regular education before she founded her own company Schauer Fotografie. She earns income by working as a school photographer and by shooting weddings, family, and company reports and soon she will start giving her first workshops.

What inspired you to be a photographer?

I’ve been interested in photography ever since I was a child. However, for practical reasons a chose a career in a different industry. Then I became ill in 2006 and realized that if my heart was somewhere else, I needed to do something with it now, and not wait... because life is short and vulnerable. Realizing this, inspired me to choose a life as a photographer. My children (twins, now 6 years old) inspired me to capture life like you see things for the first time. Like babies and children do; pure and without judgment.

What was your first camera and what do you shoot with today?

My first camera was an analog Praktika camera. My first digital SLR was an Olympus e-500. Nowadays I shoot with Nikon, mainly with a D850 and D750.

Do you try to be conceptual or do you prefer to show the feeling behind a photo?

Both. Because I am a photographer for a living I shoot a lot of families and children. I love to get to know these people and capture them the way they are and feel. But apart from that I love to express my own creativity by making conceptual work. I would love to make more conceptual work in the future.

When someone looks at your photos, what do you want them to take away from it, what are you trying to communicate?

I am a happy photographing when I manage to pass as ’sonder’; the realization that everyone around you has a life outside of yours, as vivid and complex as your own.

What has photography done for you?

Photography has completely intertwined in my life. It made me the person I am today. It gave me a lot of great connections, friendships, and insights, and I even met my fiancé through photography.

What do you carry in your camera bag?

Nikon D850, Nikon D750
Nikkor 24-70 f2,8
Nikkor 80-200 f,28
Nikkor 50mm 1,4

If you had to choose one lens which one would it be and why?

It would be my 80-200 f2,8 lens because this lens mainly determines my style. Although this lens is not the best choice for studio work.

What are your 3 tips for others who want to become better photographers?

1. Always try to be critical of your own work. There is always room for improvement. Always.

2. The world of photography is an exciting, dynamic and creative world. But also a harsh world because you give away something personal to the world and there is a lot of competition. Criticism is part of this word. Try to learn from it and not let things go under your skin. It’s part of the job.

3. If you are serious about photography invest in a good lens like a 24-70 f2,8 and a good full-frame body. That’s basically all you need. Good equipment is not going to make you a good photographer. But once you know the basics, don’t let technology get in the way of your creativity.

Have you received negative feedback from your work? 

Both good feedback and negative feedback are part of the job. I am a very sensitive person. If I get 1000 positive comments about a photo and one negative, the negative comment could keep me awake at night. On one side I think this is part of my quality, to stay critical and focused to keep growing. On the other hand, if you want to survive in this business you need to find a way to deal with negative comments. I just made sure that I only publish images I feel 100% confident about. As long as I know that an image both reflects something personal and is technically correct, negative feedback won’t move me that profoundly.

If you could have the gift of a great photographer who would it be and why?

I would love to have a long chat with Annie Leibovitz. I admire her creativity and I would love to see how she creates an image.

What is the most common mistake you see people making when shooting these days?

Don’t start a photography business before you know all about how your equipment works.

How do you decide on where to shoot a photo?

I ask myself what color I feel like. Then I choose a location that matches my requirements.

What is your goal with your photography?

I hope I someday will be able to reach more people. I would be very happy if it happens through my images, I’d love to make people realize we are all the same. With our own thoughts, feelings, and emotions. And of course, get better.

Check out Maaike's ViewBug profile.