By BlipCommunity

Six years and counting!

Meet Mario (Seize the Day). Here’s how he describes himself: “On 23 October 1962, I came into this world as Antonie Mario Oostendorp, weighing 8 pounds 10 ounces and 1.5 months premature. I am the 4th of 7 children and the first born in New Zealand, one month after my parents emigrated from the Netherlands, hence my profile text: ‘made in Holland and born in New Zealand.’ I work in Reactive Work on our Public Water and Wastewater network as a Water and Wastewater Technician. I am a Club Running Coach for Run Timaru and have had two runnerswho have been successful on the National and International Stage.”

Mario’s journal is a collection of shots of life as it unfolds around him and people whose path he crosses. His candid images and down-to-earth text reflect his unassuming yet very genuine personality, with a keen eye for capturing small moments.

Photography as a family affair

Mario’s interest in photography came from his father. His dad was a hobbyist photographer who built a darkroom in a closet in the place in Holland where his parents lived before immigrating to New Zealand. Mario used to help his father to produce prints for competitions while his dad was a member of the Southland Photographic Society. “His influence rubbed off on me,” says Mario “and I still remember him telling me about composition even though I was only about 6 or 7 when he let me have a go at creating an image with his camera.”

The role of Blipfoto

As for many of us, Mario was introduced to Blipfoto by another blipper (Rainie) who worked at the physiotherapist practice where he was being treated. At the time, Rainie was the Secretary of his camera Club; she showed him her Blipfoto journal and suggested he have a go. “I went home and procrastinated all night,” he recalls. “Then, I thought about ‘the Pumpkin Hour’ -- having to put up a blip by midnight -- and at 11:00pm I finally put up my first ever Blip.” And the rest, as they say is history: six yearsas a blipper and counting!

Originally, Mario thought that one of the biggest challenges was to find an image to create. When he joined, he was so excited that before long, he says “I had shot everything in my town: back yard and neighborhood, and that was all in the first 5 days!” Then he learned that the greatest challenge was learning to stop, look and really start ‘seeing.’ With that in mind, he says that you start to find beauty in the mundane and excitement in trying to photograph a tiny plant or insect. “The biggest challenge,” he quips “has been trying to photograph people who hate or don't like their photo taken: one of those is my wife and blipper Marie(MrsPuff) who before becoming a blipper herself would tease me about whether I’d gotten my blip of the day and ask me if the Blip Police would arrest me for not getting my photo of the day!” This is his favorite portrait of her. 

Sometimes, to get over ‘blip block,’ Mario dips into the challenges put up by members. His favorite and longest standing is the MonoMonday challenge, as he particularly enjoys black & white photography. For him, b&w brings a portrait to life and brings out the natural look in the subject. He especially favors the extra in this blip entry. “Often,” he says “a theme or a challenge may have a set subject and what is exciting about this is that it gets me to step out of my comfort zone and to work at my craft.”

What keeps him blipping?

“If someone were to ask me about doing what I am doing or trying Blip, I would happily encourage them to take it up. No matter what level of photography you are -- beginner, hobbyist, full time paid or self employed – Blipfoto is this place where you get to put up YOUR image and talk about your day, with the encouragement of other blippers. Blipfoto has stretched my skills and helped me to become a better photographer and a better person.”

What keeps Mario here is that blipping is so different from anything else he’s done. And while we interact from the anonymity of a computer screen, Mario also believes that this community is like a family – “sometimes,” he adds, “like the family you have always wanted and never had.” “Blippers,” he says “sometimes become our closest friends; we get occasional opportunities to meet in person and, often, we know more about each other than some of our closest relatives do.We can laugh and cry together at the keyboard and no one is going to make fun of you. This ‘family’ will lift you up in your darkest hour or at a moment of great turmoil or grief.”

It looks as though Mario is here to stay!

Mario lives in Timaru, New Zealand, along with his wife Marie and their catsBertie, Boogle, Pippysue, and Sweetpea.

Remarks collected by Michele (Alsacienne)
Cover photo by Mario: Lake Benmore

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