Steven A.J. Beijer, The 'Nomadic Instagrammer'

Tokyo| | © Steven A.J. Beijer
Cristina Tomàs White

Steven A.J. Beijer is the almost-constant traveler; he leads an enviable life on many accounts. Although currently based in Barcelona, Steven is usually found taking pictures in the most striking places. He has successfully been able to adapt his insatiable wanderlust to his work as a freelance translator. While his passion for photography started out only as a hobby, Instagram proved to be the medium through which he was able to reach a much wider audience: after having been featured as a ‘Suggested User’ on the site, Steven started attracting a much larger following, and his photographs have been published by the likes of The Guardian and Vueling’s Ling magazine, among many others. Here at the The Culture Trip we take this opportunity to share some of Steven’s amazing photographs with our readers, in addition to our short interview with him.

The photographer himself, courtesy of Steven A.J. Beijer

Tell us a little about yourself. What brought you to Barcelona in the first place? Also, where are you originally from?

I actually took my first-ever solo trip here back when I was 18. I stayed at a hotel on Las Ramblas (which probably shows how little I knew about the city!) and fell in love with Barcelona. In the years after that visit I passed through Barcelona a bunch of times and always loved it. It always seemed like an amazing place to live so when my girlfriend and I decided to leave Athens a few years ago – and although we knew no one here – it seemed like an obvious choice.

I was born in The Netherlands but moved to the US as a baby (this sounds like I had far more agency than I presumably had at the time: I was carried). I lived in California until I was six and returned to Europe. I’ve lived in six different countries by now.

On a ferry in Greece|

What got you interested in photography? Since when have you been taking pictures?

I must have been around ten years old when I got my first camera. Getting on Instagram was, however, the first time in my life when it became possible to have a bit of an audience, and it made me get more serious about it. While I’ve often been tempted to try to become a professional photographer, I’ve always been a bit worried that, particularly given how important photography is in my life, going pro would kill the magic for me. This is why I attempt to strike a balance between pro and amateur.

A Stockholm metro station|

How would you describe your style?

To quote Stephen Malkmus of Pavement, ‘I’ve got style, miles and miles but it’s wasted….’ And, to give a non-song-lyric reply, I guess you could describe it as street, candid, moments.

Steven’s girlfriend, Eliza, in Paris|

Can you tell us some more about Expats of Barcelona?

Expats of Barcelona was an idea I had when I realized that I myself was a lifelong expat. I began to wonder how others like me experienced this life, the concept of ‘home,’ belonging, etc. So I decided to start documenting the lives of expats living in Barcelona.

Sitges (during Carnival)|

What was the most memorable moment of your career?

I’m not a professional photographer, so I’m far from blasé about opportunities and special moments. There are many moments that have been special when it comes to photography.

Being featured as a ‘Suggested User’ on Instagram was really exciting. Being invited to fly to Athens recently as part of a campaign by the Athens Tourist Board was incredible.

A taxi in Athens|

Have you ever had any odd job requests?

I was once hired to photograph a cucumber with La Sagrada Família as a backdrop. I guess that would qualify as odd. I can’t recall ever feeling like more of a sexual deviant, which was fully confirmed by the looks I got.

Brooklyn, New York|

Is there any particularly interesting story behind one of your pictures that you could share with us?

I attended the Lowlands music festival back in the late nineties, with a crappy analogue camera on me and took a photo of what I then thought was just the scenery. That same day I watched the band Sebadoh (fronted by the awesome Lou Barlow) play an incredible and inspiring set. I didn’t really know them before then and it made me a huge fan. When I got the roll developed I realized Lou Barlow was standing right in the center of my frame, looking directly at me.

The Whitney Museum, New York|

What would your dream assignment be?

To be hired as a travel photographer, sent pretty much anywhere. I don’t even particularly care where. A Belgian suburb, a wine cellar, someone’s garden. If I’m being paid to be there, I’d be happy. Dream destinations for this purpose would, however, be Japan, NYC, Iceland, New Zealand, and many many more.

DGTL Festival 2015, Barcelona|

Steven’s work can also be found on Tumblr, Flickr and Facebook. Not to be missed either is his Expats of Barcelona project!
Interview by Cristina Tomàs White

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