It was so great to get such a positive response to my last Instagram post. One of the questions I got asked was about my photographic journey and how it started. I could try and make this story short but it wouldn’t make much sense so here is the long version. Feel free to come back anytime if now isn’t the right time. I will still be here.

      Let me start by saying that I wasn’t very interested in photography until later in life. I guess I was never in the right place or with the right mindset to think I could even do anything creative for a living. That alone makes me kind of sad but also very grateful that I got where I am today regardless of the obstacles along the way. 

      Out of school at the age of 18 I thought I wanted to become a pilot. My reasons were that I didn’t suck at mathematics or physics, loved traveling and was looking for a quick way to start working (it only takes about two years to become a pilot) but I realised I was doing the wrong thing one year into the program and dropped out. I remember that year as being particularly difficult as Sabena which is Belgium’s national airline went bankrupt after the events of 9/11.

      I was 20 years old and looking for the next thing to do. When I look back at that time of my life I think I was living in a bubble where everyone around me got me to believe that you need a degree to succeed in life and be happy. It took me another ten years to realise that I was wrong. So I went to uni and studied commerce not because I enjoyed it but because my parents were going through some financial difficulties and I think all I wanted was to secure some sort of stable future for myself. 

      Fast forward 4 years later when I graduate from uni and land my first job at The Bank of NYC in Brussels. With my girlfriend at the time we heard of friends who were loving life in Australia so we decided to give it a go. 

      It’s March 2007 and I am in the plane to Sydney after quitting my job in Belgium and with little savings in my bank account. When I arrived in Sydney it was obvious that I wouldn’t last long without a job. Luckily some investment banks were recruiting young professionals with my profile and I got offered a job in one of them after only 2 weeks in Australia. I have mixed feelings about the following five years as I very much enjoyed my new life in Sydney but feel like I was selling my soul and had to stay in a job that I disliked to be able to stay in Australia.

      This is when my interest for photography grew as I was living away from my family in Belgium and started exploring new places that were so different from what I knew back home. In 2009, I met Anastasia in a nightclub on Oxford Street and we quickly became inseparable. She was the only one to see my interest for photography and she even saw something more. I was a bit shy about my new hobby but she encouraged me to attend a small workshop at ACP about lighting. This was eye-opening for me as for the first time in my life I would catch myself dreaming about becoming a photographer. I think sometimes you need the help from someone to unlock something inside you that you never knew existed. This is what happened with Anastasia. We started exploring awesome destinations together and inspired each other in a way I never knew was possible. In 2011, I became an Australian citizen which meant I no longer had to rely on my employer to be able to stay in the country.

      In 2012, Anastasia and I decided to leave our day jobs and start a new adventure in Belgium where we both attempted to make a living doing what we loved. That adventure lasted almost two years with a lot of time spent in Brussels but also two very impactful journeys. One was exploring Morocco for a month and the other one was a journey of three months spent reconnecting with Anastasia’s roots in Ukraine and following the tracks of the Trans-Siberian railway through Russia, Siberia, Mongolia and China.

      We photographed our first wedding in Belgium and quickly realised this is something we both enjoyed doing with all our hearts. There is something about capturing real emotions and raw connections that got us coming back for more. We returned to Sydney in 2014 to continue this crazy adventure and never looked back.

      Thank you so much for taking the time to read about my journey. Any questions or reactions are welcome.

      Damien 

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      Thank you Damien for sharing your story. It’s beautiful and I’m glad that you find purpose in your photography. Both my partner and I have been following you and love your work. I wish you and Anastasia all the very best 😊