There’s something about Jelle Mul that instantly puts you in a good mood. Looking through his pictures you know he got some stories to tell. With his YOLO-attitude you’re up for an adventure that’s worth every penny! Seeking the genuine moments in life he doesn’t take things to serious at which he approaches them with a pinch of wicked humor. Above all, he wants to have fun in doing the things that make him feel content.
“ Somewhere between Adam & Eve (also known as evolution) and Trump (also known as devolution) we got lost in the thinking that more is better. More things, more love, more sex, more saturation. This series represents less because actually having less makes things less complicated. Happiness is in the little things, that one person who is there when you need them, a peak of sunlight when you ride your bike, that first walk after weeks in a wheelchair or a little nap on the train home; not in the new iPhone or a flamethrower. No matter where in the world, no matter what race, religion or gender simple is better and ‘less is more’. Who cares about 2 gold medals if you have one, who cares about your two houses if you are an asshole and who cares about being friends if you are never there. I started to have more fun taking photos with just a set 50 mm because I was challenged to take a picture I wanted to take. Same for color, the more you take away from a photo the harder and more fun it is to make a photo which is interesting. Not sure if other people agree and not sure if that matters, but I like these shots made in a simple way showing people all around the world enjoying less. “
As if his photography isn’t already a donation to the world he also likes to give away all (!!!) his earnings from his exhibitions to a good cause. The same goes for every picture he has ever sold or money he has gotten from publicizing a photo.
“ I want photography to be my thing without limitations from somebody who gives me an assignment so I have other ways to make an income. This is my way to do something back for the things we human beings have fucked up. “
A guy with his heart in the right place. We certainly dig that here at Stitch!
What influenced you to get into photography?
I have been really fortunate to run productions for bigger team trips and fashion shoots while working for different surf and snowboard brands. By joining those trips and team rider trips I had the chance to spend a lot of time with photographers and learn how they worked. When I quitted my first job after 4 years to fulfill the terrible desire to see the world (don’t we all) I bought a SLR with a standard lens, put it in my backpack and started taking pictures of all the things interesting to me. I have not really stopped taking photo’s ever since. I think influence comes from everywhere, sitting on the bike to work early in the morning on a rainy day, to opening a magazine with photos from my favorite photographers to eating a mango early in the morning while the sun peaks through the window and I do not really think about that. I just do what I do and sometimes it works for me and sometimes it does not. Sometimes people like what I do and other times people don’t. There are not more than a small handful of people from who I value their opinion on my photos, so guess they do influence what I do a little, but on the other hand I might be way too stubborn to actually really listen to them.
What did you want to represent with this series?
A few years ago at the beginning of the snow season, I went on a snowboard and surf camper trip with a friend and all my camera gear go stolen while we where in the water. Broke as I was, I just had enough money to buy a 60D and a 50 1.4 lens and I straight away started loving the limitation I had with just a 50mm lens. Limitations and to me especially black and white make the difference between good photographers and people that make photos. The more you take away the harder it get's to make an image interesting. With one lens you have to move around and can't take every picture, which is something you can't see in a picture. Something like color can give a picture stopping power, so taking that away gives an image less dept so less room to play in to make it interesting. To me these pictures represent the places I go to, the people or situations I have bumped into and the main thing these pictures have in common are that they are all black and white, shot with the same 50mm 1.4
How would you describe your work?
That is really hard to answer and is not really up to me to say because I do not have a specific skill or topic I focus on. I shoot what I like and what I see. I am addicted to taking photos so always have a camera with me and tend to love shooting empty landscapes with early morning or late night light where one small thing happens.This is kind of where I like to be. I only use natural light and to me, an interesting picture is a simple picture where not a lot is happening but a lot is happening. Not sure if I describe something here or it is just a lot of words, saying that it is always up to the person looking at a photo to describe what they see. I always like it when different people have different stories or ideas with the same picture.
How do you create (talking about camera gear and post-processing) these images?
Great question, haha. I do not know, I just do. I go places, bring a camera and take pictures. Not really a lot more than that. Most of the people in my pictures are friends or people I meet traveling and have a bond with. I am not really the guy who thinks of situations or shots and recreates them. I just shoot and sometimes I like a shot and sometimes I don’t. My hard drives are a mess as well, so many pictures everywhere and post-processing is not one of my strongest points, that is maybe one of the reasons why I mainly take certain kind of shots of having a certain feeling to most of the pictures I take or pick. I do share some of the shots but most of them live on my laptop and discs or are printed in my house all pilled up. I have so many pictures laying around everywhere and do really believe in print. A picture just looks better printed. I still love it every time somebody sincerely is stoked to have one of my pictures hanging on their wall. I have started to work on a book with my photo’s and stories in them and Natasa Lops is helping me with that. No idea if people will like a book with my pictures but I do really look forward to that because now they are everywhere and it is one of those annoying boxes I really want to tick before I turn old, grey, grumpy and blind.
You seem a funny guy (yes, I’ve seen your Instagram), how do you stay so optimistic?
Haha, don’t think everybody would agree that I am funny. I would even argue that most people would disagree with you. For most people, I balance closely between annoying and funny, or at least that is what I hear a lot. I really enjoy lots of different things and moments, not sure why but going outside and doing things no matter where I am, makes me happy so that is what I do. I love standing on top of a mountain after a long ski or bike ride up, I like jumping in the sea after a ride on my cross bike or love jumping in the sea for a surf in shitty cold conditions. I do get grumpy sometimes so not sure if I am the guy who should give tips on how to stay optimistic. I would say: drink yogi tea, meditate every morning, drink coffee from an avocado peal, take loads of selfies and talk in hashtags and in quotes, if that is not your thing maybe realise that nothing and nobody is always great or optimistic, so make sure to enjoy those moments that are great, amazing or spend with the people you want to spend them with, so the shitty moments are a bit easier to handle.
Your good buddies with Wouter Struyf, one of our photographers at Farmboy, the company where Stitch was created. How did you get to know each other? And tell us the most embarrassing story.
I am not sure anymore how I met Wouter, it is a while ago but I do know how we got to know each other better. I am a big fan of his work and really like how he is as a person. He is one of those people you can rely on and is somebody who would not put himself above somebody else, but is extremely creative and talented. I just know one other person with that much photo talent, but she does not really do anything with it. Wouter and I got to know each other better at the time I worked for one of the “surf” brands and Wouter joined us a few times as a photographer on trips to countries like Iceland and Norway. I do not want to be a party pooper but I don’t think there is anything embarrassing to tell. Although staying in the middle of nowhere for a few days and sleeping in a self-made snow cave or camping on a wild beach in Iceland with 6 degrees and pouring rain for sure gets you into a different vibe, so we do have our fair share of funny stories, but those work way better when you tell them sitting next to a fire while drinking terrible alcohol than on a website where people come to see good photography, so I would say just join us next time on a trip.
You’re a real adventurer, you like to travel, and it’s perfect to combine with photography. But what’s the one thing you couldn’t live without while traveling? (photography and non-photography related)
An adventurer is a big word. I love going outside and doing sports in the ocean, in the mountains or in the woods, but an adventurer to me is somebody like Shackleton, Thor Heyerdahl or Edmund Hillary. I just enjoy places with friends and love being outside away from crowds. I think I can honestly live without everything if I have to while traveling, but do really like to bring a camera no matter where I go or what I do. I get fascinated by with natural light and having a camera is a good way to combine being outside and enjoying the places you are. It also is a great excuse to jump out of that boring conversation with the excuse, the light is perfect right now.
PHOTOGRAPHER: Jelle Mul I Instagram