My amazing girlfriend An plays the cornetto, a Baroque & Renaissance instrument. Worldwide, there are just 200 people professionally playing this forgotten instrument, so when An’s teacher Marleen Leicher asked for a portrait series she could use for publicity for concerts and other uses, I immediately said yes, but it had to be ‘my way’.

First of all, it had to be authentic.

Marleen is a world class performer and teacher. The instrument itself had a significant value in musical history. So it was quite important to me that it felt right. It’s easy to snap quick photo against a wall in a classroom, but that doesn’t mean it’s right. Even if you’d bring in some light, it still needs a bit more. So we looked for a fitting location. My first idea was the Antwerp Vleeshuis, which is not only period accurate, it also holds one of the biggest collections of harpsichords, which often accompany the cornetto in compositions.

We found a great location in the music academy of Woluwe-Saint-Lambert. While the building is not from the exact correct time-frame, it still worked.

And, as I always say, if it’s not Baroque, don’t fix it.


The staging and lighting was heavily inspired by work from period painters like Vermeer and Dou (a pupil of Rembrandt). I spent many hours on Google Arts & Culture to see how the old masters approached musical instruments in their works.

The musical accents like other instruments and sheet music in the background also take their inspiration from paintings like Hans Holbein the Younger’s ‘The Ambassadors‘, or Baschenis’ ‘Still Life with Musical Instruments, Booms and Sculpture‘.

In the end, we made some powerful portraits I’m really proud of.


  • Hasselblad X1D-50C
  • XCD90
  • Key Light: Profoto B2 in a Elinchrom Deep Octa 100 shot through a Lastolite Joe McNally Skylite Rapid Diffuser
  • Back light: Profoto B2 with 1/4 CTB, shot by a reflective 180cm umbrella with silk diffuser
  • Accent light: Profoto B2 with 1/1 CTO, in a Profoto OCF 2′ Octa