Off the beaten track: a photo exposition

Mrs. Wijnanda Deroo (’55) is the artist in residence and teacher for the Photography workshop organized by Atelier ’89 and the group (16 students) started off with introductions on Monday September 7th, 2015. The exposition with special works of 16 amateur photographers opens in the education center of the national park ‘Parke Nacional Arikok’ on October 1st, 2015 at 7 o’clock and is open for 2 weeks.

Theme of the workshop is “Off the beaten track”. The group worked on ‘telling stories’. Wijnanda says “Telling a story with pictures is like writing with words.” The idea is to photograph Aruba in an unusual way or in a way not often seen and to visit unexpected locations. Aruba is known for its ‘Pearl in the Caribbean’ imago. For words like ‘Paradise’, ‘One happy island’ (official slogan), ‘Heaven’ ‘the most beautiful beaches’ and marketing terms like these, all words exploited by the travel industry.


There was a lot to do in 4 weeks’ time and also assignments over the weekend. The group visited different spots and sites on the island at different times of the day. It was a pretty intensive program with a high pace. Exercises and group assignments during the four weeks were, for example: On the first night we had to cut out a part of a picture which is a picture in itself (separate story). The exercise was to analyze a composition, see the different elements and take out a part as you would a fragment of a story and ‘break’ or disconnect the relationship with the original composition. The group continued the second evening to create a composition with different objects and photographed this in different lights both outside and inside. Also in week 1 the group photographed an object with different light sources (candlelight, spotlight, party lights). One evening the participants went for a walk and tried to capture the atmosphere of the centre of Oranjestad in the evening. The group was asked to take pictures at a fair with a model, the instructions were that the model should take up one third of the space. The group went to fishermen’s spot early in the morning to photograph something that either caught their eye or something they disliked. A visit to an industrial area. On another evening group members formed an image rhyme with pictures from their personal photo archive and also showed a collection of pictures that accentuates contrasts. The last photo shoot took place in Seroe Colorado. Wijnanda gave ideas, instructions and comments. She also pointed out that pictures placed in the ‘right’ order tell a more captivating story. In the black box of Atelier ’89 the group discussed the results, composition, lighting, and other effects and exchanged ideas. Working out the assignment gave surprising results.

An evening in Oranjestad
An evening in Oranjestad

I interviewed a few of the participants and posed 3 questions: why did you go to this workshop and what did you learn? What was your favorite assignment? What was your best shot and why?

Zanette Refunjol:“Curiosity & wanting to learn more of photography has led me to signing up for this course. For me working on specified subjects was a challenge and a learning curve. I usually just wander around and take pictures random of what in my opinion is “beautiful”. I also got more acquainted with the specs of my camera thanks to the other alumni’s who willingly shared their knowledge. It was interesting to see how each of us who followed the course interpreted the assignment and executed it differently. I learned and got inspired by both the facilitator of the course as my fellow “students”.

“My favorite assignment was when we went walking around and taking candid shots in Oranjestad. This was not the postcard blue water, white sand adorned with palm tree’s Aruba scenery that most people know. It was a “behind the scene” moment. It was about seeing how a whole different Aruba came to life. Though you have people hanging around, playing loud music and having drinks, you couldn’t deny the melancholic/lonely deserted feeling that the city gave off.”

This (so far) has been my favorite shot of the course. A back alley, where a man was sitting outside and watches through the door. Was it too hot inside?  Was there no space inside for him to sit? I wouldn’t know.”

Zanette Refunjol

Noris van Lis-Donata: In this workshop I wanted to explore the effects of natural lights in photography. I am also interested in the technique of telling stories by using photos. I learned to be more creative with objects in my environment and dare to present ideas on photos. My favorite assignment was working in a team in-house with the objects each team member brought in and with the lights available in the yard. My favorite image is this composition, we made our own arrangement at several spots with light inside and outside.


Gwen Jie Sam Foek: “I did this workshop because I want to grow more and more in Photography in every aspect and develop and express my own style. I want to capture beauty and purity I see in the best quality, high quality. I want to capture your attention and leave you in awe!” “I learned different ways to look at a picture, composition, capture what you see, be patient (I have a lot of that), how everybody has a different eye… is in the eye of the beholder!”
“My favorite assignment was Night photography. I guess I like the lights and colors. Photographs capture so much more colors then we stand still to look at. They are all there, but we never look good enough to see them!” My favorite image is this one of Oranjestad in the evening. Why? I like the colors, the clarity, the lights, the evening feel. I think it’s beautiful.

Photograph by: Gwen Jie Sam Foek
Photograph by: Gwen Jie Sam Foek

Me: “I was very excited to do a workshop with Wijnanda because I am fascinated by what she does as an artist, photographing spaces in a unique and breathtaking way. And I went into it with all my energy and attention. I enjoyed it so much.” “My favorite shot: I haven’t experimented a lot taking pictures in the dark but during this workshop we did just that with our own compositions and lighting, while trying to capture an ambiance. I played with bottles, colored glass and marbles which I love doing and then played with candlelight and a string of led lights to create this picture. I am quite happy with it.

Photograph by: Gina Jie Sam Foek
Photograph by: Gina Jie Sam Foek

Photographer Wijnanda Deroo travels to different places around the globe to photograph settings, often abandoned buildings, such as restaurants, churches, foyers, and hallways, capturing timeless images of beautiful interiors. On Monday evening September 21, Wijnanda presented her work to a small audience in the black box of Atelier ’89. Wijnanda Deroo showed a selection of her work, from different series and special projects, she did over the years. Both Black and white photographs and color in her later works. The images are square and she works with an analog camera with traditional film. (Shots in the evening are usually made with an aperture of 30 seconds).
With her photography she shows she is interested in history and in what people leave behind. She prefers to work with the lighting as she finds it, and the composition that caught her attention; rarely does she change something in the setting. She shows photographs of unusual spaces and interiors and expresses a special ambiance and tension in them. Some interiors seem to wait patiently for time to pass; some buildings seem to be waiting for a new function while nature does what it does… The photographs radiate tranquility. Her photographs are exceptionally clear and you feel like you are really ‘there’ or you wish you were.

Wijnanda 1 DSC_0365

Of course Wijnanda was asked about her experience teaching this workshop: “It was wonderful to teach this workshop by Atelier ’89. My purpose in teaching is to help the students to feel enthusiastic about their own work and see the progress they can make as individuals. I think the results from every student are amazing. The group was quite large, which sometimes made it more difficult to get one-to-one time with everybody, but I think and hope they learned a lot from each other as well.” I wish everybody all the best and keep up your pleasure in photographing any beautiful moment. Come and see the fantastic exhibition!”
Wijnanda Deroo studied art (painting) at the Art academy of Arnhem, Holland but switched completely to Photography after her graduation. Wijnanda Deroo was an Art teacher for many years till she moved to New York. She currently works both in Holland and in New York. At the moment she works on a project where she photographs artist studios. She loved being on Aruba for a few weeks and teaching this workshop ‘Off the beaten track’.

As Elvis Lopez said on the opening night of the workshop, Atelier ’89 brings “top of the line workshops”. The exposition with special works of 16 amateur photographers opens in the education center of Parke Nacional Arikok on October 1st, 2015 at 7 o’clock and is open for 2 weeks. You are most welcome to visit.



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