How to turn your passion into a profession

How to turn a passion into a profession, develop talents and let intuition guide you towards realization –

David Kooijman is a Dutch photographer from Delft, the city where the painter Johannes Vermeer was born. David has lived in Italy in the last 23 years and is also based in Cape Town, South Africa.
His shots show nature in all its grandeur and his photographs speak to the emotions of the beholder.

– David, what brought you closer to photography and nature?
From an early age I drew, especially animals. Around the age of 12 my parents gave me a camera: it was a simple camera, without zoom, but I was in heaven when I got this present! Together with the camera, to be able to try it straight away, they also gave me two tickets to the Rotterdam Zoo. I went there with a friend and together we walked around the zoo in search of the best shot. I had only one roll and before taking a picture I had to think about what I was doing. That was a benefit of having one camera roll: I had to think before taking a picture and so I learned quickly.

My love for photography has grown and developed over the years: I took pictures while traveling, but back then nothing more. Some years ago I attended a photography course and I realized that my passion needed to be heard. Photography had… waited long enough for me, now it was time to act.  

I realized that I wanted to create my shots through the uniqueness of my gaze, I wanted to develop my talents and let my intuition guiding me on my very personal path. In fact, thanks to the post-processing techniques that I love to use, the photo ‘comes to life’, the colors come to life and nature gives her best.  

Nature brought me closer to photography: infinite landscapes, the beauty of light, the wild animals catch my eye and every time I take a picture I would like to take home the emotion I feel in that very moment. Photography allows me to make the magic of that moment last, with my shots I can stop time and share that moment through my photos.  

– How did your passion for photography turn into a profession?
I have always carried within me the desire to be a professional photographer, but for a long time I did not listen to my desire. Over the years, as my passion for photography grew, I worked on my beliefs and realized that I have everything I need to make my hobby a profession. It was a choice, a conscious choice: I want to ‘be’ a photographer. This was the first step.  

I valued my talents and decided to do what I’m really passionate about, an activity that is in line with my values. I listened to my desire to spend more time in nature and to show others the beauty and the greatness of the extraordinary landscapes that make our planet a paradise. I can do all this through my shots. In the company of my camera, I live in the moment, I am centered and I am fully myself. Once I made the decision to become a photographer, I took one step after another and took concrete action to realize my project.

I created my first website to make my photos known around the world and to tell my story, while I began to exhibit my shots through small photographic exhibitions. The reactions were immediately positive, and this strengthened me in supporting my professional growth. I continued my training by following numerous workshops and learning from several international photographers. This helped me a lot to refine my technique, both in making my shots and in post processing. My training as an engineer (I am an aeronautical engineer) has supported me in the use and development of processing techniques, so much so that I have now become an expert in specific post processing programs.

Today I shoot my photos in a different way: I wait for the best light, I think about what I want to achieve in post processing, I imagine the emotion I want to communicate with the image I am creating. I want the photo I’m taking to be memorable, just like the moment I’m living, like the view I’m admiring.
Here is my website, where you can see my art and the photography tours I offer

I look back to the past years, and I can see the great progress I have made: the strong belief that I have taken the right path has supported the development of my skills and vice versa. There have been doubts, but the amazement of what I have achieved in a short time is greater than any doubt! I am curious to see what the future will bring me, even though I now know that I am the creator of my life and that the future will bring me what I will build for myself.  

– What do you want to tell through your shots?
I want to show how beautiful our Planet is!If we stop for a moment to look around us, we understand that there are beautiful places to admire and enjoy everywhere, even very close to us, in the area where we live. People are always in a hurry, they no longer find the time to admire a beautiful landscape or the unique sunsets.
With my photos I intend to focus on and share the emotion I feel when I admire the beauty of a landscape, the lights of a delicate dawn or the perfection of an animal in its natural environment. I would like everyone to know that there is so much beauty in Nature, and that this beauty is our treasure and must be protected by us. 

As beautiful as a photo may be, it is necessary to remember that the real natural spectacle is a thousand times more exciting than a picture!
I am working on several projects: photographic trips to Europe and Africa, during which I accompany the participants and offer them my workshops. In this way people can approach photography and nature, they can see the incredible landscapes of my beloved Southern Africa with their own eyes and capture them in one click. They are journeys into nature to admire its beauty and become better photographers.

Through my photography, my goal is to inspire the people who follow my workshops to feel more in tune with the Earth, with the magnificent world of animals and the wonders of Mother Nature.  

– What does it mean for you to reach this goal?
Obtaining this result means for me to have the direction of my life in my hands, to do something that is aligned with my values and to be able to be of service to others. It allows me to travel and see the most beautiful places on Earth and to help people becoming more and more aware of the strong bond we have with Nature: we are part of a magnificent Creation and in It we are creators of our lives.  

I know I’m going in the right direction, I feel it. When I take photos, I feel at peace with myself. I feel that the world around me kind of disappears, I am in the flow and I forget about time. This is the most important thing for me. Then there are confirmations from the outside, which bring me joy: the sale of my prints, the quality of my photos that continues to grow and the continuous appreciation of my audience.  

– What guides you in this process of professional and personal evolution?
I answer with a quote from Nelson Mandela, which inspired my journey:
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.
We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’
Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world.
There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you.
We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us.
It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone.
And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.
As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”   


See David’s art here and book your photo tour


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