Five minutes with: Izak Van der Merwe

We recently talked to Auckland photographer Izak Van der Merwe about his love for photography and what sparked his introduction to the photography world.

D-Photo: Please give us a rundown on your photography: when did you start out?

Izak Van der Merwe: My passion for photography started with my dad, as he has been a keen photographer most of his life and has always shown me cool images, or told me about the days he used to shoot weddings with film, and how different it is to today's digital age. I remember the exact moment I realized that photography was something I would love. I was about 15–16 years of age, and we were on the Te Waihou River — my dad had is old Nikon P90X camera and said I could have a go. After looking through the camera and seeing the world in a different view, I was captured by how you could freeze a moment with just the push of a button. 

From there I spent day after day just playing with the camera (even if it had no film in it), looking at how I could frame things. From here, dad taught me some of the things he knew — always giving me a helping hand in critiquing my images, telling me how the camera worked and so on. When he had taught me all he knew, I went to the internet and watched countless video tutorials, looked through books and magazines, and talked to other enthusiasts. I got lost in the world of photography. Now I am on a journey to become more experienced and skilled at my craft, working on my ability to tell better stories with the help of my university lecturers and other fellow artists.

Izak Van der Merwe

Tell us a bit more about yourself.

I am a part-time photographer based on the Hibiscus Coast in Auckland, with a love for the outdoors and meeting new people. I have grown up around the ocean, lakes, rivers, and mountains, spending a lot of my time surfing, fly fishing, and exploring the outdoors. I am currently studying at Unitec doing a Bachelor of Creative Enterprise, with the goal of becoming a commercial advertising photographer with a focus on adventure lifestyle, sports, and landscapes. I would say my photographic style is currently explorative as I find new ways of doing my craft and I am starting to put my favourite pieces of that puzzle together to craft my own signature style, which I hope will be recognized by its beauty, peacefulness, and great narrative.

Izak Van der Merwe

Can you outline what is in your equipment kit at the moment? 

My gear list includes two main cameras that I work with: my Nikon D610 and my Mamiya 645AFD with an 80mm f/2.8. This sees me getting the best of the digital world and the film world. In my camera bag I also carry my dad's old Nikon P90X and Nikon FA. I have a couple of lenses for my Nikons: a 50mm f/1.8, 85mm f/1.8, 28–120mm f/4.5–5.6, and then I make the most of borrowing anything else I need from university.

I have to say my Mamiya is my favourite to use by far, as I am in love with the way medium-format looks especially in film. I am hoping to one day get my hands on a Phase One Digital Back to get the ultimate image quality.

Izak Van der Merwe

What projects have you got on the go at the moment?

I have a couple of personal projects that I have on at the moment. I’m currently working on a lifestyle series, where I am trying to capture some of my favourite holiday places with a narrative aspect to them. I’m also working on a dreamy landscape series, where I am putting a girl into the frame to echo the dreamy beauty of the landscape she is in. 

In the future I am hoping to do a narrative series of images that capture a selection of the great tramping huts that can be found on the many trails in this amazing country.

For people who want to see more of your work, where would you suggest they visit?

If people would like to see my work, follow along with my journey, or would like to just make contact and have a chat, they can find my website and blog at ivdm.nz, also they can find me on Facebook at IVDM Photography.