Loesje Kessels is a passionate and creative Dubai based photographer, videographer and editor. Founder and Managing Director of Loesje Kessels FZE, she has worked for prestigious clients such as Carolina Herrera, Maserati, Vogue, Bvlgari, Puma, Hublot, Harvey Nichols and Bloomingdales.
Loesje, please tell us a little about your background in photography?
My love for photography started around my 20th, when I was traveling around the world and had a strong desire to capture places as I saw them through my eyes. It was in Vancouver that I bought my first DSLR and I started assisting a professional photographer; setting up lights and holding reflectors. I learned all of the technical aspects which enabled me to put all of my creativity into my work and soon my love for photography turned into passion, obsession and I would almost say addiction. When I now have a few days without my camera, my hands start getting itchy, my mind is full of creative ideas and I cannot wait to get back to it. After shooting hundreds of fantastic events and weddings, I now love to be able to take more control and shoot commercial, fashion and beauty work.
What sparked your desire to get involved in visual arts? Why and how did you start this company?
My mother is very creative and talented and was always involved in drawing, painting, ceramics, mosaic among others. I was never very good at any of those but I do think her creativity and talents have inspired me to draw my own pictures holding a camera. I started my own company in 2014 after working for a video production company as a photographer, editor and post-production supervisor. I had a strong desire to follow my own dreams, have my dream job and work with fantastic clients.
Who are some of your influences that have helped you develop your style and continue perfecting your craft? I love and admire some great names in photography such as Annie Leibovitz and Nick Knight. These photographers continue to inspire me. However, I do also get a lot of inspiration from photographers around me. Dubai is home to many great artists and I enjoy seeing their visions and creations. I love that through social media, any photographer around the world is just one click away and it gives you immediate access to lots of inspiration. One of the influences that has helped me to develop a style is the abundance of colors my mother used in all of her creations like herclothing, paintings and mosaics. Everything in her life had color and I now find myself being drawn most to create work with a richness in vivid color.
“What fascinates me most about Dubai is that there are around 200 nationalities in this country who all come with their own religions, traditions and beliefs but nonetheless live and work peacefully.”
When did you decide to leave Netherlands to live in Dubai?
I had lived in the UAE for 6 months one year prior but decided to move back again in 2012. I was 24 at the time and had unfortunately just lost my sister which was an extremely tragic event in my life. As much as it hurt to leave my parents and brother, I felt like I had nothing to lose and wanted to make most of my life, especially after seeing first hand how short it can be.
We often hear that the United Arab Emirates is a country full of opportunities. Especially for entrepreneurs. As an expatriate, what does fascinate you the most about Dubai?
What fascinates me most about Dubai is that there are around 200 nationalities in this country who all come with their own religions, traditions and beliefs but nonetheless live and work peacefully and in harmony alongside each other. I love the wide variety of different nationalities I work with on a daily basis. And yes, there are a lot of opportunities in Dubai but because the market is saturated you do have to be dedicated, persevering and very hard working.
At some point in our lives, we all have fears and doubts. What was your main fear when you had to start a new life abroad?
I had lived in Miami, Los Angeles and Vancouver for periods of time prior and had started loving traveling and living in fast-paced, metropolitan cities. At that time, this was all I knew and funnily enough it felt scarier for me to stay in my hometown instead of starting a new adventure.
What brands have you worked with in Dubai?
I have been fortunate enough to work for clients such as Carolina Herrera, Maserati, Vogue, Bvlgari, Puma, Hublot, Harvey Nichols and Bloomingdales. All of them were a dream to work on with one of the highlights shooting Taylor Hill, one of the world’s top models, in a seaplane enjoying magnificent views of Dubai, cruising at 1500 ft altitude. Another highlight was shooting an interview with the legendary football player Pele.
“Dream like you live forever, Live like you die tomorrow’. These are the words that my sister lived by in the last few months of her life.”
What gear are you currently shooting with?
I currently shoot on the Canon 5D Mark IV with Canon’s L series lenses only. In terms of lighting I only use ProFoto with different light shaping tools. In my kit I have the 16-35 f/2.8, 24-70mm f2.8 and 70-200mm f/2.8, which are great especially if I need to be quick and flexible. However, when I can take more control, for example in studio shoots, I also love to shoot on my prime lenses; 50mm f/1.2 as well as the 100mm f/2.8. My must-have would be the Canon 50mm f/1.2 as it is such an incredible lens. It is sharp, quick to focus, even with it’s razor-thin depth of field. It is versatile as it is equally great for shooting portraits as well as products and guaranteed to give you stunning shots at events too. If your budget does not allow for this, I would recommend getting the f/1.4 or even the f/1.8 version until you are able to upgrade.
What is your favorite quote?
There are 2 quotes that are very close to my heart. The first one is ‘Dream like you live forever, Live like you die tomorrow’. These are the words that my sister lived by in the last few months of her life. Another quote that is very personal to me is ‘Done is better than perfect’. Being a perfectionist has made me hold back many times in my life. If it couldn’t be perfect I would rather not do it. When I realized that from everything I did; a difficult shoot, a new job, an ambitious project, something good always came out of it I realized that you build on failure. Now I feel no more fear; I am grateful for where I am today, excited for everything that is to come, ready to take chances and determined to get grow every day.
Follow Loesje on Instagram @loesjekessels