Born and raised in Antwerp, Belgium, Elke Van De Velde has a distinct European aesthetic, one that is playful, clean and modern. Never one to sit for very long, Elke enjoys photoshoots that require physical, fluid movement and spontaneity. Having received her MFA in Fashion Photography at the Sint-Lukas Brussels University College of Art and Design in Brussels, the core of Elke’s work is with fashion and lifestyle brands. Known for her ability to manage large crews and multiple models at one time, Elke is the consummate collaborator and ring leader.
What is something people might not know about you?
I’m an introvert and very shy. I apparently come across as very calm, though I have a mind that doesn’t stop racing and I can’t actually sit still for very long. Even during a movie, I like to take a break, which annoys the people around me. For example, I hate going to the hairdresser because I know I’ll be stuck in that chair. I’m a procrastinator. I’m best under intense stress, so there’s no time to overthink everything because it has to happen now.
And I’m not sure how many people know that I started college to become a therapist? It’s a 3-year course in Belgium. After the first year, I knew this wasn’t going to work, but my parents insisted I finish. Only then would I be allowed to start a creative degree. In my family there was no support for a future in a creative field, as they didn’t think you could have a career and make a living. After finishing my 3-year program, I started a 4-year course in photography proved them all wrong.
What is something you’re most proud of?
I’m proud of myself for managing as a single mom to two kids. Last year I bought a house built in the Fifties that needed a full transformation. It didn’t have a good flow, so I knocked out nearly every wall to bring out the potential I saw in it. I created a home for my family that feels very warm and cozy and, in my opinion, even more so than the previous contemporary home we lived in.
I’m proud of my kids. It’s been a very hard year for everyone, but especially for the young ones that can’t play with their friends and are stuck at home with parents who are also trying to work during their online school.
What advice would you impart on a young woman looking to get into this industry?
It’s a hard industry and you’ll need thick skin. There are many ups and downs, so you need to get used to rejection.
What was your dream job as a kid?
I wanted to be an orthopedic surgeon. Having had many casts on my arms and legs as a kid, I had my fair share of doctor and hospital visits. Putting arms and legs back together seemed like a great idea until my mother said I had to learn Latin before being able to go to medical school. That was the end of that dream.
What does it mean to you to view work/life through a female lens?
I don’t see why my female eye is different. People should hire me because they love my vision. Not because I’m a woman.
To work with Elke, contact Sally Bjornsen here.