Kim Dalton's picture
Crew Mom

Who's in the Crew? - Spotlight on Robert de Wit

NAME: Robert de Wit - https://www.200f2.ca/
https://headshotcrew.com/200f2
https://www.linkedin.com/in/robert-de-wit/

WHERE DO YOU LIVE? Ottawa, Canada. It’s the fourth largest city in Canada and our nation’s capital. Founded in 1826, we have a wonderful selection of national museums, cultural institutions, the world’s embassies (and their families), hidden gems, and (of course) our federal government. It is a wonderfully vibrant and diverse community. Absolutely beautiful in the summer but stupid cold in the winter. The Rideau Canal (a UNESCO world heritage site) turns into the world’s largest skating rink in the winter.

HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN SHOOTING HEADSHOTS? I took my first ever headshot in December 2016 using a simple two-light setup and posted the results here: https://headshotcrew.com/post/161329. I had just joined the crew two months earlier and I recall spending the first few weeks as a freaked-out wide-eyed lurker, trying to absorb as much as I could.

WHAT ELSE DO YOU LIKE TO SHOOT? Horses. My youngest is a high-performance eventer (equestrian) and competes often during the summer. For those unfamiliar with the sport, it is often called “the Olympic’s Most Dangerous Sport” and competitors are seen as borderline insane. I spent a lot of time around barns and horse shows as he moved up through the ranks and just starting photographing whatever was around me keep busy. I also find I can’t watch him compete unless I’m looking through a lens. The camera acts as a distraction to the inherent danger and, as a parent, I’d be a mess without it.

WHAT IS YOUR LIGHTING SETUP FOR HEADSHOTS? It varies depending on what the client wants. I usually start with the PH flex kit (version 1) in the standard triangle setup but switch it up from there. I usually end up bringing in some strobes before the session is over. I love experimenting with different modifiers and just love what you can do with light. The on-location game is different as consistency is the goal, so it’s purely flex kit for the win.

TELL US A LITTLE ABOUT THE SPACE YOU SHOOT IN. DO YOU OWN IT, RENT IT OR LIVE IN IT? I started in the basement of our house, then moved to a studio shared with 4 other photogs for a year before moving back home and taking over the living room. Yes, it’s small (12x15) and the 8’ ceilings can be a challenge, but I absolutely love the commute. Somedays I find the space constraining, but it can also be a tremendous source of ingenuity. Here’s a recent example of what I was able to shoot in a single session: https://headshotcrew.com/post/255800

WHEN DID YOU FIRST DISCOVER PETER HURLEY AND THE HSC? I blame @RyanParker. He posted a shot in IG in Sept 2016 that somehow landed in my feed and that was enough (here’s the shot, in case you’re wondering:https://www.instagram.com/p/BK4mUXyg9HO/). I did some research, bought the “illuminating the face” series, and joined the crew in Oct 2016. Like Ryan, I wish I had joined 5 years earlier.

The first time I met Peter was at the Intensive in Toronto in Mar 2017 and I remember my first reaction was “hmm, he’s taller than I expected”. Here’s the shot of him I snagged during the Intensified, and my story around my reaction about having him stand in front of my camera for the first time:

View this post on Instagram

Archive Series, Peter, 13 Mar 2017, Toronto . With the world in lockdown, I’m sifting through the archives and discovering new favourites. I can think of no better start to this series than the gentleman that ignited my headshot journey, Peter Hurley. . Imagine the scene, you’ve just met Peter for the first time the day before, you’re now alone in a large studio (you’ve never been in before) using Peter’s own lights (which you’ve never used before) and you’re given 15 minutes to capture a headshot of the best headshot photographer on the planet. Not just Peter, but Peter in character - playing out a scene that exists only in his imagination - testing you, evaluating your technique, watching (like the old Police classic) “every move you make, every smile you fake”. . Thirty seconds into the session I said to myself “Ok, I can’t do this”. The issue was I had nothing to attach to: there as no connection I could transact on between me and the character Peter was playing. So I stopped the session and said “Peter, I need help. I have no issue shooting you (the best photographer on the planet) but I can’t resolve the tension not knowing anything about your character.” After a few moments exploring the source of this tension, we got back to work, but with me shooting Peter as Peter. This image is capture #2 of a 17-shot sequence. . The point of this story is not about the image, though. It’s about Peter. It’s about his ability to establish a connection of such strength in such a short time that I felt able to ask for help. This is rare, folks, and I believe forms the foundation of his success. Peter, this one’s for you #shabang #yourock . #blackandwhite #bnw #bnwphotography #bnwportrait #bnw_greatshots #200f2 #ottawa #headshot #photographer #peterhurley #fromthearchives #headshotcrew #headshotcrew365 #quarantineprojects

A post shared by Robert de Wit (@200f2) on

HOW LONG DID IT TAKE YOU TO JOIN THE CREW AFTER YOU FOUND IT? Less than a month. It was not a hard decision.

WHAT IS ONE THING ABOUT YOU PEOPLE WOULD NEVER GUESS? I’m a recovering golfaholic. It got really bad in my late 30’s. I took two successive winters off to work my swing 4-5 times a week. I started yoga to increase my rotation. I caddied on the PGA Tour Canada (the minor leagues) for a stretch (best finish was T2 looping for Adam Long). There is no feeling like walking up the 18th knowing you have a shot to win. I played 50+ rounds a year for several years in a row, getting my handicap down to 8 (from the tips, walking and carrying), which is not bad considering I never held a club before the age of 34. I’ve walked every hole at Augusta National and was floored by the elevation changes (yes, that false front on 3 is insane).

All this stopped when we bought our first horse (did you notice the word “first” - let’s just leave it there).

I still do yoga, tho.

WHAT'S ONE THING PEOPLE WITH YOU KNEW ABOUT YOU? I’m intensely loyal. But I expect you to pull your own weight.

PHOTO INFO: Headshot by Peter (from 2017). Waiting for the next Intensive in Tuscany to get a new one. I’m looking forward to the Chianti.

I’ve included two horse shots that are my favorite. For the uninitiated, that’s a solid jump, and the horse’s speed of advance is roughly 30 mph. Miss the takeoff distance and the horse hits the jump with their front legs or chest, normally resulting in a rotational fall where the horse cartwheels over the jump - landing on the rider. This often proves fatal for both. The last Canadian eventer to die this way was earlier this year: https://www.horsejournals.com/equinews/news/international/canadian-event...

The first shot shows the extension required to clear the jump. The second shot shows you the jump is actually downhill. The rider is Shannon Holmes, one of our local Ottawa riders, on Major Disaster (that's the horse) competing at Bromont a few years back. Captured at 200mm, f2, 1/4000.

37 Comments

John Yeatman Jr's picture
Protégé

Robert is great! He was my Wingman back when that was still around and super helpful. We still throw it back and forth on IG and I consider Robert a friend although we have never met. Cheers Kim and Robert! Well done!!

Robert de Wit's picture
Associate

Thanks dude! This means a lot. I love to hit the links someday and get to know you better.

John Yeatman Jr's picture
Protégé

That would be rad! Nice, cool, dry, sunny day... you have to give me strokes though.

Robert de Wit's picture
Associate

I’m as rusty as my wedges. How about a buck a hole, straight up. Double for birdies.

Kim Dalton's picture
Crew Mom

Robert rocks!

Mathieu Deslandes's picture
Associate

Cheers dude!

Robert de Wit's picture
Associate

Thank man. I’m loving your recent Joel Grimes work. Just awesome.

Beth Madison's picture
Protégé

Robert, great to know more about you!! I love that Instagram story about when you were shooting Peter!

We're riders in my family, too. I started when I was 9 years old. My mom was teaching, so my dad drove me to my lessons -- 40 minutes away. After a while, he got tired of just waiting, so he started taking lessons, too -- 6 nine year old girls, and my dad, learning to ride! Fast forward, he ended up owning 2 horses (sequentially), and becoming the president of our riding school (Ox Ridge Hunt Club.) Ox Ridge hosted Olympic-qualifying Hunter/Jumper classes, so I got some great images.

Beth Madison's picture
Protégé

One more...

Robert de Wit's picture
Associate

Great shots! Look at those knees 👀 Awesome position. Love the story about you’re dad - so cool. What a great spirit, and guts. I was quite happy pointing the camera at things. Here’s some more eye candy.

Beth Madison's picture
Protégé

Oh, wow! Gorgeous!! I don't often see farrier photos. I love these!

Yeah, my dad was a great guy. The reason he got to be president of the club was because he was the only one who could get along with everyone -- the show jumpers, the trail riders, the polo folks, the average lesson-takers, the hunters, the hill-toppers, the serious riders, the casual riders, the new-comers and the old-timers -- all the different factions of the club. They were always battling each other, but he could bring them all together.

It's hysterical, because when we joined, we weren't even sure they'd let us in. The club is in Darien, CT, and we're Jewish, so... once upon a time, I'm sure we wouldn't have been allowed to join. As it was by then, the economics of running a riding club meant that I'm sure they were just happy to take anyone's money.

My dad teased me that he was going to go into the interview doing a Tevye impression from Fiddler on the Roof.... Yidle-diddle-didle-didle dum... I was like, "Dad!!!!! Don't you dare!!!" LOL!

Robert de Wit's picture
Associate

That's hilarious! You dad sounds like he was one cool dude. Would have loved to meet him.

Lynda J. Chan's picture
Protégé

Fantastic photo and story of your dad, Beth Madison ! Love it :)

Lynda J. Chan's picture
Protégé

Great to hear all about this, Robert de Wit ! You're a busy guy, and I know you just have to take more headshots to keep up the horse habit lol And great shots of your son!

Menno Klaasse's picture
Protégé

It’s so great to read your story it’s inspiring and really helpful to get more insight. Robert you rock well done your fellow Canadian.

Robert de Wit's picture
Associate

Thanks dude! Your work is absolutely rocking, BTW. Your last two posts are just awesome.

Steven Perry's picture

Good interview. Finally signed up for the free membership. Once I get going with more headshots I will upgrade.

Robert de Wit's picture
Associate

Glad to have you here dude! It’s a short drive to Ottawa, BTW. Maybe you’ll score a new headshot.

Michael Miller's picture
Protégé

Great interview. Kim your interviews just keep getting better. Robert, that's a fascinating story about watching through the lens to be able to stay sane.

Robert de Wit's picture
Associate

Thanks Michael! 3000 frames per show is not unusual. Thankfully my son does the culling.

Doug Sturgeon's picture
Associate

Great read Robert! He was my wingman for a short period of time. He invited me up to his studio & had 4 actors come in so we could do some one on one training - awesome day. Along with Kim, Robert helped me get to associate status & for the I’m grateful- you rock dude!

Robert de Wit's picture
Associate

Thanks so much dude! I remember that day - it was a blast! It’s about time we catch up over a beer when you’re next in town.

Doug Sturgeon's picture
Associate

Sounds good, same if you’re in Toronto.

Robert de Wit's picture
Associate

Deal!

Chris Hietikko's picture
Protégé

Robert, you are a rock star! Inspiring to say the least.

Robert de Wit's picture
Associate

Thank you so much Chris! I’m blushing.

David H. Roth's picture
Protégé

You are an inspiration to so many of us, Robert. Wishing we were both at Augusta National right now.

Robert de Wit's picture
Associate

I would love to go back! That 2nd into 11 is the scariest shot in golf. Right is dead, left is water, and you know 12 is next.

Nicolae Pop's picture
Protégé

Robert always finds a way to encourage people in his image critiques. Great to be part of the same crew.

Robert de Wit's picture
Associate

Dude, just took a peek at your portfolio. Holy smokes, you are so close to making Associate. Your work rocks!

Nicolae Pop's picture
Protégé

Thank you, sir! Like I said, always finding something good in your interactions with others. I want to grow up and be like you. :-)

Robert de Wit's picture
Associate

Thanks so much! Although, according to my wife, I still haven’t fully grown up.

Rick Bern's picture
Associate

Never met Robert in person yet he still made me buy a large truck. (And his portraits are awesome). :)

Robert de Wit's picture
Associate

Guilty as charged. It’s a nice tow vehicle, tho.

Robert de Wit's picture
Associate

And thanks so much for the kind words. I love shooting portraits.

Josh Line's picture
Associate

Always been a fan of your work and the more I get to know about you virtually the more I can't wait to meet in person. I can totally relate to the "freaked-out wide-eyed lurker, trying to absorb as much as I could" as I felt the same way. My oldest daughter loves riding and she would flip out to ride like these images.

Robert de Wit's picture
Associate

Thanks so much Josh! This means a great deal to me, your work is just awesome. I would love to meet you one day and share a beer (or three) and get to know you better.

Based on my son, horses are clearly a life-long passion. Your wallet is so screwed, my friend.