An interview with: Davy Bonny

Recently I got into touch with Davy Bonny who I featured as the ‘Designer of the Week’ here, and I was lucky enough to have him answer some questions I had for him!
He is a truly genuine guy, and it was great to hear about what goes on in his mind when his eye is pressed to the lens of one of his cameras, waiting for the perfect moment to capture.
– Alanna
Describe yourself in 5 words or once sentence?
I’m the typical guy that chose the wrong studies, because I didn’t follow my heart.
Where have you travelled, where was your favourite place, and where do you dream of going?
I‘ve travelled to: The South of Belgium (other language = other country!), The Netherlands, England, Scotland, Germany, Estonia, Latvia, Denmark, France (many different parts), Spain, Italy, New Zealand, and I’ve studied and lived in Finland for half a year.
I have great memories about all of them, so it’s hard to choose a favorite place! I plan to go to Japan, Iceland, and to do a road trip through the U.S… And after that I hope to go everywhere else. If I do 1 big trip every year, and if I don’t die or get ill before I get old, I have more than 50 places to choose from! 
Who do you consider to be your greatest sources of inspiration?
If you would ask who my great heroes in photography were, I would say: Stephen Shore, Mitch Epstein and Joel Sternfield, the kings of kodachrome! Their photography convinced me to get a little bit more serious about photography. They show that you don’t need the most exotic places or people to capture a real feeling and atmosphere on film. And photography is all about capturing feeling. Their way of framing truly enhances the feeling of the picture, and makes those pictures so strong. I believe framing, lighting and the adequate use of lenses are the most important aspects of photography. A great photographer doesn’t need photoshop or any other way of enhancing his/her pictures. Now, there are people who can do amazing things in photoshop etc., and they might be great artists, but if you need photoshop to enhance your photo, than you didn’t have a great shot to begin with. So the fact that they (Shore, Epstein and Sternfield) achieved such great photography in the very beginning of color photography makes them my big examples. But apart from that, I think inspiration comes from everywhere.
What camera/s do you use?
I started with my father’s Nikon EM, which is an awesome camera. It’s a standard 35 mm camera, but I learned a lot from it. But a couple of years later I wanted to start shooting in the 645 format, because 120 mm film with its bigger surface per frame gives more freedom to play with depth of field. So I bought a second-hand Mamiya M645 1000s, which was sold with a 80 mm f1.9 (!!!) Sekor lens. The combination of the 1/1000 shutterspeed, the very wide aperture of the lens and the fact that it shoots in the 645 format, makes it the best equipment ever! It’s very heavy, but so worth it. I like to use both the prism viewfinder (with built in light meter) and the waist viewfinder. My favorite film to shoot with is Kodak Gold for 35 mm, and Kodak Ektar and Portra for 120 mm. I’m not a big fan of the colors of Fujifilm. Oh, and I sometimes use Ilford film for B&W.
Describe a favourite memory behind a photograph?
In January this year, I travelled to New Zealand to visit one of my best friends, who is doing a (probably) never-ending work-and-travel all over the world. So together with my girlfriend and another great friend, I did a giant roadtrip through NZ, meeting the other friend somewhere halfway through our journey. The picture below is taken on the beach in Haast, on our way to Milford Sound. The contrast with my life in Belgium couldn’t have been bigger. While the guy in the picture (Ewout) was preparing pasta for dinner, I made a small bonfire using driftwood and my Bear Grylls flint, to keep away the sand flies with smoke. The sun was setting, we were all alone, there were heavy clouds, vast plains and mountains in the background, all the colors you can imagine, the sound of the ocean…. It was everything I was hoping to experience on our journey through the country. And even though the framing is a little off, this picture (for me) captures that moment perfectly!
“A photo can say a 1000 words.” What photograph can not ever be described by words?
I think no photograph can be described by words. Photography, in my opinion, is more about passing on a feeling. You can always tell the story behind a picture, and the picture and the story behind it can be complimentary. Yet a description of a photograph will never match the picture. Like the picture from your previous question. I could try to describe the feeling of that exact moment, but I believe the photograph is better at making you feel that moment. The story behind that picture is complimentary and places it in a bigger context. And visa versa, because for example movie adaptions of a book will never match the feeling you get from reading the book. The movie itself might be great, the book itself might be great, but they will never be the same, nor will they ever express the same feeling.
What is your favourite part about capturing a moment in time?
To explain it with a photograph instead of words, this:
It’s a lucky shot of my friend Ewout burning his tongue while drinking coffee. It’s one specific moment in time, literally one millisecond of light captured on film. And yet it tells so much more than that. For anyone else who sees this picture, it might be a funny picture, and it might evoke some feelings. On the other hand, for me and the two people in the picture, that 1 millisecond leads to a thousand memories and feelings. When we look at the picture, we’re like “remember that time when we went to Starbucks in Auckland, and they called for Awald instead of Ewout, and then Ewout burned his tongue, and we were so happy to be back in the middle of civilisation after we hopelessly got lost while walking in the Bay of Islands, and then we ate sushi, and then we drove off with the sun setting, listening to Ethiopian jazz, etc, etc.”. Photographs have the great power to recall lost memories and the great power to evoke emotion.
What subject do you enjoy photographing the most?
I don’t have a specific preference. It’s more about capturing a moment and feeling (I have the feeling that I’m repeating myself endlessly, I’m very sorry about that!). For example, I enjoy taking pictures of my friends (= people) very much. Within a few weeks, I will probably start to work for some event-photography business in my free time. The goal will be to take pictures of the people present at the event… you know the concept. And though I enjoy taking pictures of people, I already know that I won’t enjoy taking pictures of those people that much, because I won’t have any interest in the event/moment/feeling. Do you understand what I mean? Photography is very personal, and it’s not per se the subject that’s interesting, but the moment and feeling (there I go again).
Besides photography, what other hobbies/interests catch your attention?
Making movies! About a year ago I started a very small independent filmmaking business, and by the end of 2011 I (together with my partner in crime Thomas Van Troostenberghe) released my very first low-budget cult-horror feature film in cinema. Well, a couple of cinemas, not nation wide or anything. But it’s a start! We’re now working on the DVD-release of the film, which will probably happen during summer 2012. And together with my girlfriend Gillian Lowyck (who’s a great writing-artist and journalist), the three of us are also working on a documentary about the death of analog cinema and on a short film (a dystopian drama!). Oh, and I really love my cat, Kingsley!
  1. Love this blog Lan. So inspiring! You are so savvy with updating all your different things, so cool. Miss you xxxx

    • Thanks Lyd! Yeah I love sharing what makes me inspired, as an outlet – otherwise I get over-inspired and I can feel my brain fizzling out…

      Miss you too babe! xx

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