How many of you have thought about leaving your job and pursuing your dreams? Today we have a chance to introduce you to someone who actually had the guts to do it. His name is Maarten Mellemans and he’s a photographer. He started a project called Fools With Dreams and he’s now traveling the world. We let him tell you more about his interesting story…
Can you present yourself to our readers?
I’m a self-taught photographer from Belgium. A few months ago I quit my day job and sold my apartment to follow a dream. Since then I’ve been traveling from interesting story to interesting story without a real home base with my photography project Fools With Dreams. With this I create portraits and documentaries of/for interesting people and projects by trading my skills as a pro photographer. The only thing I ask in return is a place to sleep and food for some days, and transport to the location of the trade.
How and when did you start your project Fools with Dreams?
The idea came together in the summer of 2015. After some preparations (making a website, designing a logo, checking my sanity,…) I finally started on the 1st of February 2016.
What were your idea and goals behind it?
Many goals actually..
– I’ve been a photographer as a side job for a while, but I began getting more and more assignments and didn’t have enough time besides my main job anymore to prepare, shoot and edit everything so I began looking for ways to be able to shoot more.
– In creative industries people try to put you in tight sectors (like fashion photographer, event, architecture,..) but I wanted to do all kinds of different things. I Like the change and think it keeps you sharp.
– I wanted to travel more.
– I think photography is becoming to much of a “snapshot thing” with more and more people having cameras and the rise of instagram. I wanted to bring back the story behind the images, and create series that go together. Furthermore, photography is about people, so living with them enables me to get close and get behind the “facade”.
All these reasons came together perfectly in the concept.
To how many countries have you’ve been so far and which places\people left a special impression on you?
I’ve been to Belgium, France, Italy, Sweden and Denmark for now, but more are coming up. And although traveling costs are still much cheaper than hiring a regular photographer, the perception of the costs to get me abroad isn’t easy to overcome.
Although changing location all the time is the most intense part of the project, it also enables you to observe the (often small) differences in lifestyle among countries and people. I was most impressed by the people in Denmark, as they really seem to enjoy life more, have a good relation with nature and love design and simplicity.
What is the biggest lesson you learned from your travels?
No revelations here, as most travelers and minimalists can probably tell you this but: We need a whole lot less stuff than we think. I’ve been living out of my suitcase (hand luggage size) a long time now and I haven’t missed a thing. I stored a few boxes of stuff in the basement with friends but can’t even tell you what’s in it, and any desire to walk into stores and buy stuff is completely gone. I’m even less stressed as choosing what to wear for example has become a lot more simple. Experiences are all you need.
How would you define happiness?
Being happy is being able to enjoy where you are and what you are doing as often as possible. Of course nothing is perfect (also this project definitely has some downsides), but I do try to eliminate as much overhead as possible (bills, ignorant people,..) so there is more space and time in my head to be here and now.
How has this experience working on Fools with Dreams project changed you?
On average I stay for 5 nights during the trades, so my whole environment changes on a regular basis. This means I had to find stability within myself, learn to trust and even love myself more. Not an easy thing to do as every artist knows that self-doubt is part of the creative process.
What inspires you?
Being open to a lot of influences and experiences is a good thing for any art form, but I do admire people who believe in something. Having a goal in life, a vision, without it becoming an obsession is a wonderful thing to give meaning and change your own life as well as others. The project is called Fools With Dreams for a reason, as I mostly trade with people who stand for something and work towards a goal. Whether big or small.
If you were a super-hero what would be your super-power and why?
I’ve always wanted to be able to “talk” (not control) to nature, things like the wind and trees for example. Because they’ve been around forever, and must have vast amounts of knowledge about the world.
Plans and dreams for the future?
There will be a book and exhibition about the project when it’s finished, and after that I hope to be able to keep traveling the world and take all kinds of photographs. Maybe for magazines or personal projects. I just like to see what comes my way.