The Aaron Zwaal – Interview

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I´m sure the current generation „Y“ do not know what it means to have a penfriend & I´ve to admit, me too. But I´ve this one friend in my Facebook list which is like one of them. We´re almost staying in touch for years now & sharing our interests day by day. As I´m out here in Lisboa, sitting on the roof top, I decided to made an interview with him! But before we start, we wish him all a HAPPY BIRTHDAY. Ladies & Gentleman let me introduce you to Mr. Aaron Zwaal!

Hey Aaron, should we try to get the interview down? I mean I´m out in Lisboa  right now & have time for it, you too?
Yeah man, like an hour or so! :-)

Nice, so maybe just start with a short introduction of yourself?
Hey I am Aaron Zwaal, 26 years old as we speak, coming from Nimwegen/Nijmegen at the east of the Netherlands, currently studying at the Photo-Academy in Amsterdam but shooting BMX and having an interest into BMX since 2006 and into the photography side since ’08, when I went to NY and wanted something good to capture those memories and it just stuck and still loving it every time and currently shooting internationally with BMXRider.de magazine as a staff photographer

Thank you for your short introducing! By the way, do you remember how we both met up? I mean you’re my panfriend for years now but, I don´t remember how we got in touch -.- hehe
You’re welcome! But pfew I don’t have a clue to be honest been 2 years ago as well but most likely because of BMXRider magazine or social media or something like that.

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„Large format really changes the way you shoot“ – George Marshall

However! I´m a big fan of your photography so let´s talk about this. How did you come into photography & what do you prefer to shoot the most? I guess, I saw a view pictures you shoot on film on your Instagram, right?
Cheers man, really appreciate the kind of words! Well it all started when I wanted to document my friends and their progression and mine, starting with phones and compact camera’s and with NY and a fresh DSLR it slowly started working up from there ranging from locals to internationally stablished pro’s and roadtrips. My favorite to shoot will always probably be BMX but besides that I like to shoot landscapes and portraits as it gives a nice change from BMX and in my opinion keeps it fresh and also good for the BMX aspect as well. Before the Photo-Academy I already shot on film but after I started there it really went crazy. A mentor teached on how to develop black and white film which was so awesome because it really sped up the process on the film side because instead of waiting 1-2 weeks it could be done in 1-2 hours and also save me a lot of money and also the experiment made it also way doper! Back in 2012 I believe I talked to George Marshall at the BMX Worlds in Cologne and he said that Large format really changes the way you shoot and after diving into it after shooting medium format for quite a while I totally understood it because everything has to be perfect and can only shoot from a tripod really and when you are done focussing you can’t look through the ground glass anymore which makes you really take the time and from 6 pictures it’s almost a 6/6 succes rate :-)

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I appreciate your preference to shoot with film, but in the same way I like seeing your photos in my Instagram feed! What´s your opinion regarding all these #printisdead & online kills magazines etc. stuff, I mean you’re a staff photographer of the BMX RIDER MAG out here in GER.
Times are definitely changing and I understand it’s necessary to keep a steady workflow on social media but at the same time it sucks on how kids these days don’t support as much magazines and stuff as back in the days and seeing print/photo’s way bigger means so much more than a small phone screen that’s why I am so appreciative about being able to contrinute to such medium as BMXRider magazine!

I totally agree, I mean you know it, I´m a huge fan of social media but in the same way I really like to have something printed in my hands – still waiting for my DIG 99.5 btw. What about that deal with the BMXRider mag? How does it come?
Yeah I feel you man, it’s just a whole different thing, you’ll like the Dig magazine, it’s one big book with different kinds of paper and stuff. As for BMXRider it came about as I had a kind of backlog for pictures and before that I sold some to FreedomBMX but never did something with BMXRider after mailing to Tim and he agreed on checking the pictures he liked one and said it’d work out for a double page (Stuart Gibson wallride at a metro station) that was all the way back into issue #8 and since then I think I missed 2 issues but still going strong and just as motivated to contribute as much as possible and trying to promote the Dutch scene as much as possible as well! (Y)

Well, I remember that time, you had your first photo in it…how time flies dude!
Yeah exactly man! Almost 3 years ago now :)

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Besides the magazine stuff, you shot a lot with the best of our scene, recently you stayed with the Federal crew out in Amsterdam & I think you also shot a lot for Radio Bikes, could you tell us something about this trips? I think not everybody got the opportunity to shoot with „paragons“.
Yeah I try to do as much as possible of those things and it’s always such an amazing experience! Especially to somewhere new, Radio Bikes great north trip was such a fun time, I only knew Kenneth Tancre from Belgium and Dave the TM but everyone got along well for those 10 days and roadtripping and going somewhere new every day is so much fun and made a few new friends couple months later I stayed with Leon Hoppe for the weekend which was an awesome time as well with riding/shooting and partying the whole weekend!

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I´ll bet! You´re riding too – & not so bad. How do you handle this besides your school stuff & shooting things for magazines?
I actually manage it quite nicely in my opinion! School is only 1 day a week and besides that it’s just shooting for school and as much as possible as well, when I’m shooting I don’t really have the urge to ride but when I am in my home town I still have a fair amount to chill at my local/Waalhalla (indoor concrete park in my town) or cruise the streets!

This sounds good to me! :) so maybe before I´m out for dinner, we should also talk about your set-up. What are your tools?
Most of my work is shot with my Canon 5D Mark II and 50mm f1.4 or Tokina Fisheye, I also have a canon 24-105 f4 but I try to stay away from that as much as possible, as for the strobe aspect since a short time I am shooting with Godox Witstro 360AW’s triggered by Pocketwizards which makes me able to hypersync and that is a game changer to me! As for film I am using a simple Olympus MJU I point and shoot or Hasselblad 500C/M or Wista 4×5 large format camera.


WOW, what a set-up!  So, at the end I´ve some „short-cut“ questions left:

TOP 3 – Beer brands:
1. Lander Brau for 2,30 the sixpack
2. Hertog Jan
3. Jupiler

TOP 3 – BMX-Edit´s:
1. Kris Kyle’s Kaleidoscope
2. Something with Garret Reeves
3. Something with Mike Mastroni

TOP 3 – Websiten:
1. aaronzwaal.com hehe
2. Digbmx.com
3. petapixel.com

TOP 3 – Countries:
1. The Netherlands
2. Spain
3. USA

Now, it´s time for you to give any shout outs if you want to!
First of all, shout to you at The Fella! Besides that, thanks to everyone who has supported me over the years and especially BMXRider.de!

Thanks man. I´m out for the dinner now!
Have a nice dinner dude and enjoy your time! I am off to a cold beer at the local as well!

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