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Interview with automotive photographer Robert van der Graaf

Hi guys,
Today we’re interviewing Robert van der Graaf, owner of, the guy who knows how to capture the moment and make it last forever!

Dear Robert, thank you so much for agreeing to an interview. First of all, please tell us something about your relationship with cars. How and when did it start?
I’ve been fascinated with speed from the tender age of seven. It started with riding a dirt bike which I did till the age of 15. After that, I became a big fan the F1 and I visited many racetracks.

Your website, PhotoGraafy, is about the subtle yet very popular art of photography. What is photography for you – is it what you do for a living or is it a hobby?
Photography is my passion, my hobby. In my professional life I do something completely different. I’m a salesman at Kemppi Benelux; we sell welding machines.

Why did you decide to focus on cars? What other things (objects, models) do you like to work with?
Well, I don’t only take photos of cars. I just love speed and enjoy shooting fast moving objects. I also like taking pics of animals and people.

Aha! Well, taking high-quality pictures of moving objects must be not that easy. Is it a challenge for you? What other challenges do you have to face?
As for shooting moving objects, it’s not that hard. You just have to practice and the more you do it, the better it gets. Another big challenge is playing with light and finding the right angle for the perfect shot.

Apart from photography, what other car-related interests and hobbies do you have?
Everything that has to do with F1. When talking about speed, the F1 has it all. You know, especially with Max Verstappen doing it so well at the moment it is just fantastic to watch. But in general, I’ve always been a very big fan of F1.

And what about the hobbies that are not car or speed-related? Do you have any?
Football! Every week, I coach a young goalie. I also sometimes do “Systema”; it’s a Russian martial art.

What do your friends and family think of your interests?
They share my hobby. My son and I often visit race tracks and take some shots together.

What about their attitude towards speed and cars - are they as much of pertrolheads as we are?
Not really, maybe they have more of a passion for photography than a passion for cars.

Do you remember the moment we first met? When you first came to GazZup, what attracted you and why?
It all started with TuneZup, the first website that was made with your software. Leander (CTO of GazZup) told me he really liked my work and I joined TuneZup to share my pics with other petrolheads. After that, we met at “100% Tuning” in Rotterdam and he told me about GazZup. He needed some early followers and I decided to join GazZup.

And what made you stay? You could have started your website with any other kind of software, but you chose GazZup. Can you tell us why?
I really liked the concept from the start. The idea that you can be a part of the development and are able to add your own ideas to a growing concept appealed to me.

Did you have experience with creating and managing websites before you started one at GazZup?
Before GazZup, I tried to create a website with Joomla.

When you were starting, what did you want it to become? Did the result meet your expectations?
I didn’t have a real plan for it because I didn’t mean to make money with it. Taking pictures is my hobby, my passion and not a way of getting profit. I was simply looking for a way to share my photos with others. Besides, I wanted to have something with the domain name

What were you most comfortable with when building a website on GazZup and what was complicated? Why?
Creating a website with GazZup was pretty easy from the start and I did a lot with it. Looking at GazZup now I must say that a lot of things have changed since then, but it only got better and easier to work with.

How often do you update your website? In your opinion, how often should a new website be updated to become popular?
To be honest, this year I didn’t do that much on the website. I uploaded some pictures but not too many. I was very busy with other stuff in my life. However, if you want to be really successful, you should upload some new pics on your website at least once a month. I have big plans for 2017, so I expect to add a lot of new photos next year.

We know that you co-operated with our web designer to make PhotoGraafy look great. What are your impressions of your cooperation with GazZup Team member and of the results you got?
I can say only one thing about this: “WOW!” Anna did an amazing job; she really took my website to the next level. I got many positive responses from the others about the web design she made.

Did you make some friends who share your interests with the help of PhotoGraafy? Did PhotoGraafy change your social life?
Did it change my social life? No, saying that would be too much. However, helped me meet some new people.

In your opinion, what makes a website successful? What three pieces of advice can you give to the guys who have just started a website (with GazZup)?
1. Let the visitors understand where they are and who you are from the first seconds they are on your website.
2. Make them become curious to see more and stay on the website.
3. Make sure the visitors understand what you’re selling.

What do you think are some common mistakes that users who start a website make? What would you recommend our newcomers do (or don’t do) to avoid failure?
The contact button is very important to people. Very often you have to search for it for a long time. Also make sure you menu options are clear and easy to understand.

We know that you have seized the opportunity and earned some money with GazZup. Did you really want to make a profit or was it a surprise for you?
To be honest, I knew this from the start, but it has never been a motivation for me at all. I began using GazZup not because of making money but for another reason.

What recommendations would you give to someone asking you how to earn some money on GazZup?
First of all, connect a real domain name to your website, it will definitely give you profit. But after that, make your website rock, add interesting content and attract people, because the better your website is, the more profit GazZup shares with you.

A lot of people nowadays are concerned about the security of their website(s) and the information they post. What do you think about that? Do you allow your visitors to copy your pics?
I really don’t like it when people use photos from my website without mentioning the source. It takes me a lot of time to take the perfect shot, and when people then use that photo on their own website without mentioning me, it is really not cool.

If you were asked to rate the security of GazZup software on a scale from “1” to “10” (where “1” is very bad and “10” is excellent), how would you rate us?
I would give it an “8”. In fact it started with a “7”, but because of the support you give, with the things I see you doing, I can say it’s an “8” now.

If you were asked to give one thing you find really great at GazZup and which you enjoy and one thing you dislike, what would these things be?
What I like: the support and service you provide, even on weekends I sometimes get answers within minutes from you guys. What I dislike: I can’t think of anything at the moment.

We know you own PhotoGraafy, but do you have any other websites? Are you planning to create another website with GazZup one day?
Sorry guys, but I prefer to focus on one website. I can imagine that some petrolheads who have the time and the passion for cars create several websites, but it’s not for me.

All in all, how can creating a website change your life?
The best thing that PhotoGraafy did for me is that it helped me meet some interesting people.

Thank you!
December 01, 2016
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