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Conversations with SweetEscape Photographer during COVID-19 - Episode 2: Dennis and Dewi from Amsterdam, The Netherlands
20 Apr 2020EXPLOREBY Ezra

SweetEscape is committed to helping you capture life perfectly during the good times and tough times. As one of the biggest platform that connects you with thousands of photographers around the world, we would like to connect you with one of our photographers every two weeks on Instagram Live to discuss and share their experience during this global pandemic and their memorable moments as a SweetEscape photographer.

by Dennis + Dewi for SweetEscape in Amsterdam

In the second episode of our Instagram Live with #SweetEscapePhotographers, we talked to Dennis and Dewi Ardon from Amsterdam, The Netherlands. Dennis and Dewi are very special because they're one of the first few photographers to join us back in 2016, and they shared a lot of interesting stories from the Land of Tulips!

When did the outbreak start in The Netherlands?

It began around the same time like the rest of the world; around end of February, beginning of March. The virus started to come to Europe including The Netherlands, and we’re now 4 weeks into the Intelligent Lockdown.

'Intelligent Lockdown'?

Yes, the Dutch government call it 'Intelligent Lockdown'. They don’t want to lock everything down, so we can actually still go out to the streets but there are certain restrictions. That’s why they call it 'Intelligent Lockdown'.

by Dennis + Dewi for SweetEscape in Amsterdam

How’s the situation there? Most people are working from home and school is also out, right?

Yes they closed all schools, sports accomodations or restaurants. A lot of shops that are selling goods that you don't really need essentially for everyday are also closed. But the grocery stores, pharmacies, and such are all open. We are home schooling, we’re working from home and actually for us it has been amazing, it works. Nowadays you can work from home and still have a lot of team meeting sessions or Zoom sessions... So it is workable. But for some people it can be lonely.

by Dennis + Dewi for SweetEscape in Amsterdam

How has the outbreak impacted the photography & travel industry in The Netherlands?

It definitely impacts us, 100%. All tourist areas are closed. Actually we miss having our clients! Now we don’t interact much with people and even when we go out, we have to be disciplined, keeping 2 meters distance and following the regulations. Although, we know that this is a good thing, because only by being disciplined that we can get through this together and this time will pass soon. If we're not disciplined, it's going to be longer.

by Dennis + Dewi for SweetEscape in Amsterdam

So practically right now there are no tourist whatsoever in the Netherlands?

Yes, no tourists. Flights that come and go from the Netherlands are only necessary flights to bring back Dutch residents back home from abroad, so you can't book flights from Indonesia to the Netherlands or vice versa, for example. Even at the land borders with other European countries, they put security check points and when you drive from other countries to the Netherlands, they will ask you where you are going, what you're going to do in the Netherlands. If it's not necessary, they will make you turn around and not enter the country.

by Dennis + Dewi for SweetEscape in Amsterdam

What have you been doing at home these past four weeks?

We have a 12 years old son, Mikha. We try to keep our daily schedule, so we wake up at normal time, we have our breakfast, and then we do our work while Mikha is homeschooling. We try to do it as a family.

Honestly, having a family during lockdown is a blessing, because we have a lot of time together. We try to see it in a possitive way, and we try to build our family together. We play a lot at home too, we make some adjustments because Mikha used to play hockey before this so we put some fake grass in the backyard so he can still practice his hockey. We also play Rummikub, a Dutch board game, to pass the time. We enjoy our time at home, although Mikha still misses his school and friends.

You've been our photographer since March 2016. Any interesting moments you'd like to share to us from your four years as SweetEscape photographers?

We have many good memories with SweetEscape! We enjoy working with the company because every session is more than just a photo session. One time, we were having this 2-hour session with a big group of people, but it turned out they were super drunk the night before. The photo shoot was in the morning and we had to take a boat ride to the location and we spent around 1,5 hours. At the end of the session, we said that we needed to hurry up and get on to the streets because there was only 30 minutes left. As we went to the street, we asked them to walk together to our direction while we took their photos, but they simply couldn't walk straight because they were just too drunk, and the boat trip made it worse!

by Dennis + Dewi for SweetEscape in Amsterdam

The other time, we were supposed to have a session with one group of people from Indonesia, and when we saw them on the shoot day, it turns out that we actually knew each other! I (Dewi) told Dennis to approach them first and they were like "Hi Dennis! Why are you here?" They couldn't believe that we were the photogrpahers they hired to take their photos! It was so fun.

Does knowing your clients personally before make the sessions more comfortable?

Yes, a lot of time it does. But actually even when we don't know them personally, we always try to make them feel comfortable for a photo session. Most of the clients are tourists on holiday, so they're always happy when we give them recommendations on where to go, what to see, and what to eat around Amsterdam. A lot of our clients are from Indonesia too, so it's always a plus to have Dewi speak Bahasa Indonesia with them. It makes them a lot more comfortable and relaxed during the sesion.

by Dennis + Dewi for SweetEscape in Amsterdam

If you had to pick one favourite moment from the many sessions you've had as SweetEscape photographers, what would it be?

Apart from the two interesting stories we shared earlier, we always love it when our clients are confidently dressing up glamorously for their photo shoots. Dutch people are quite casual and usually they wear normal clothes, so it's always fun to see clients who dress up so well with gowns or suits in the middle of Amsterdam. They really stand out from the crowd, and of course the photos will turn out really nice!

by Dennis + Dewi for SweetEscape in Amsterdam

What are the most common thing that clients ask during a session?

A lot of our clients ask for the normal things, like good sightseeing spots, delicious restaurants... But since we're in Amsterdam, and The Netherlands have a special regulation about the consumption of a certain plant, some of our clients do ask for the place to do that too. But I think most of the clients are just enjoying the city, and we always try to take them to the quieter places that only locals know. The streets of Amsterdam can be very hectic sometimes, especially with all the bikes.

What are the best spots to take pictures in Amsterdam?

Well every corner in Amsterdam is really nice, honestly! But we need to be careful of what time to have the session. Like for example in Dam Square, the big city square, if you go there at noon or afternoon, then it'll be really crowded. You need to go to Dam Square in early mornings if you want to have a nice photo there. Popular tourist spots always need to be visited in the early mornings, but we always manage to find quiet spots here and there even in the crowded hours in Amsterdam. There's one popular shopping street in Amsterdam, but just behind it, there's a nice little chapel and garden, perfect for an intimate photo shoot, a 'sweet escape' from the hectic streets of Amsterdam. We always try to surprise our clients by bringing them to these spots. Actually, we have 2 favourite spots: One close to the canal houses and the other is 15 minutes walk from there. We call it the 'Dancing Houses' because the houses are falling apart and leaning to each other, so it looks like they're dancing.

by Dennis + Dewi for SweetEscape in Amsterdam

One of the most popular time to visit The Netherlands is during the King's Day. Do you have any interesting story about that?

King's Day is to celebrate the ruling monarch's birthday every year, so since our current King Willem-Alexander's birthday is on April 27th, the King's Day happens on that day too; people go out on the streets, wearing orange clothings, and having fun. But previously for 33 years until 2013 we had a queen, Queen Beatrix, and the Queen's Day fell on the 30th of April. Many tourists didn't know that the Day is to celebrate the current monarch's birthday, and they thought it just happen on April 30th every year, so now every year on April 30th we still see a lot of tourists going out, wearing orange clothings, thinking it was still the Queen's Day!

One of the top questions from our live audience is 'What is Mikha's Favourite Indonesian Food'?

Oh, Mikha always eats Indonesian food! Dewi cooks rice every day and we as a family do enjoy Indonesian food, but especially Mikha! Once, we went to Dennis' parents house, and Grandma was cooking Dutch food with potatoes and such, but no rice. Mikha went looking for rice and didn't want to eat until we told him to be polite and just eat Grandma's Dutch cooking. So he actually has Indonesian apetite.

by Dennis + Dewi for SweetEscape in Amsterdam

Dennis also likes Indonesian food, but mostly nasi goreng. He always orders nasi goreng whenever they eat in an Indonesian restaurant. So one time when we visited Indonesia, some of our friends told Dennis "Come on, don't be boring! Order something else! Don't order nasi goreng!" Dennis tried, and the next day he got sick. So since then, I went back to only ordering nasi goreng whenever we eat out.

As for Dewi, she's super Indonesian. She loves ketoprak. Dennis like to cook Italian food, and one day Dennis cooked risotto and put it nicely on the table. Then Dewi came and said, "We're missing something". You guessed it, Sambal! You can take a girl out of Indonesia but you can't take Indonesia out of the girl!

Lastly, it's sad that it's spring now and we can't see the tulips in Amsterdam because of this COVID-19 outbreak. Are the tulips only in Keukenhoff and Lisse area or can you actually find them elsewhere in the Netherlands?

It is centered around Keukenhoff and Lisse because that where they cultivate the tulips. Unfortunately now they closed-off the park even for Dutch people, so yes, we can't see the tulips this year. Keukenhoff is actually a garden in Lisse, and you can find tulips not just in the garden but everywhere in the area, although some tulip farmers closed off their farm because many tourists tend to ruin the tulips by running around or laying down on the flower bed.

by Dennis + Dewi for SweetEscape in Amsterdam

We can, however, still see some windmills. We can go to the famous Zannse Schans, a little village with different types of windmills, and Kinderdijk, a small area with the most working windmills. It's really nice because we can take a train from Amsterdam to Rotterdam and then a boat to Kinderdijk.

Another tip for anyone visiting Amsterdam after all of this is over is to go to Dordrecht, also known as Little Amsterdam. It has nice houses and little harbours. The Netherlands is not only Amsterdam, there are lots of beautiful places outside Amsterdam, and we can't wait to visit these interesting places again after all of this is through.

by Dennis + Dewi for SweetEscape in Amsterdam

We agree with Dennis and Dewi! Let’s stay home, stay positive, and hope that this pandemic will be over soon! Before long, we'll have Amsterdam #CapturedPerfectly by SweetEscape again!