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Photo essay Urban


Belgitude is a series focussing on the typical things that can only happen and occur in Belgium, as photographer Siegfried Claes puts it himself. I'm not sure if I totally agree with his view but the pictures sure are working for me.

Tell us a little about your background – what path led you to becoming a photographer, and to doing what you’re doing today?

My name is Siegfried Claeys and I am living in Zelzate close to the city of Gent in Belgium.

At age of 16, I did a student job and with the first money I earned, I bought my first analogue reflexcamera to take holiday pictures. The main reason why I bought my first camera and took the first steps in photography is because my father was also a fervent photographer. When I was a young kid, I was always at his side when he was taking analogue pictures and developing them afterwards. So it was natural I also moved into that direction. In 2003 I replaced my analogue camera with my first digital compact camera. At that moment, my kids got born and I mainly took pictures of them. In 2012, I bought my first digital reflex camera and decided to start photography classes. Initially I only wanted to follow classes for 1 year to learn how to work with the camera but I found so may joy in photography that I completed the full trajectory which I finalized after 5 years.

In 2017 I became a member of the photo club 'Sasse Fotokring' in Sas van Gent (NL) and started to participate more and more in photography competitions and exhibitions. In November 2021 I also became a member of the Zinkae photographers collective in Ghent (BE). The highlight so far for me was to become category winner of the Photo CEWE Award 2021 in the category 'Travel & Culture', out of more than 50.000 entries. My interests are mainly in Travel, Landscape, Architecture, Product and Documentary photography and preferably in a minimalist form.

Can you tell me a bit more about the project?

#belgitude is a series focussing on the typical things that can only happen and occur in Belgium: a disgusting coastline, statues in the front yard, a horrible spatial arrangement… It’s all about the mentality and the life feeling of the Belgians. The concept extends beyond chocolate and fries, but says more about an attitude to life that has to do with being a Belgian or living in Belgium.

In this series, I want to express the Belgian soul and identity. This work is still in progress.

Who is your photography hero and why?

One of my favorite photographers is Nick Hannes ( ), a Belgian documentary photographer. In 2016, I went to a lecture of him and I was really impressed about the subjects he is covering, the way how he prepares and approaches the topics,…

It’s also due to this lecture that I started to take up documentary photography. He really inspired me and since then, I follow him very closely.

© Pictures by Siegfried Claeys