My name is Wout Beel, and I was born in Belgium in 1986.
I grew up with a father that was and still is a press photographer for regional news. So I have seen the life of a photographer for many years.
I didn’t believe that there was a future in press photography, as journalists often take their own pictures for an article. I tried to go in the direction of more commercial work and family-related stuff. This grew to the point that I had a good mix of working for companies and brands along with a family focus.
For personal reasons, I took a seven-year break from photography, where I did not even hold a camera. However, the hunger to shoot images again grew stronger and stronger, so I decided to add photography and keep my regular job. After about a year, I received a phone call from within the cycling world.
This was a world I knew nothing about, but it felt like the perfect moment to take the step to go freelance fully and quit my regular job. This chance of a lifetime inspired my passion for photography!
I became the new in-house photographer for one of the world’s leading cycling squads Deceuninck – Quick-Step, now Soudal – Quickstep. Four years later, I am still with the team working in the perfect combination of photography and cycling, travelling around the world for a third of the year.
The rest of my time is spent freelancing with anything from brand shoots in studios to weddings and, of course, time with family and kids.
The cycling world provides a unique and colourful visual story with adventure, travel, and never knowing what is around the corner for the team. I capture everything that happens behind the scenes, like massages, cooking, cleaning bikes, riders, as well as all the racing.
It is amazing to see how every person in the team is passionate about their job with the aim to get the best results for the team.
In the unpredictable sport of cycling, many of my shots are taken on the run, so although they may not be perfect, they capture the emotion and atmosphere of the sport. In my freelance work outside of cycling, I follow the same style of photography.
Working a nine-to-five job would demotivate me pretty quickly, so I’m happy to have found this wonderful niche, and I look forward to many good years.
Let’s take a look at my kit.
Canon Eos R5 – my daily camera, which I just love!
Canon Eos 5D Mark IV – my spare camera body.
Mavic Mini 2 drone – a handy piece of kit.
I use to be a big fan of prime lenses, but it meant that I had to take cameras with me all the time. So now I work with these objectives, which all have a UV filter installed mostly for protection.
Canon EF 28-300mm, f/3.5-f5.6L IS USM – this is the main lens that I tend to use.
Sigma 24-105mm, f/4, Art line – I hardly use this one, but it can take twenty shots per second with really fast autofocus.
Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM – I use this for low-light situations and for portraits with a lot of depth.
Canon Speedlite 470EX-AI – I always pack this flash, but to be honest, I might use it twice a year when a situation needs lighting up, as I prefer natural light.
When I am doing any studio work, I will usually build up on location with various lights, flashes, soft boxes, grids and colour filters using three main setups. I also tried using LED lights, but I am not a big fan, as you really need to use your ISO to get to a decent shutter speed then you start to lose quality.
When I am doing any studio work, I will usually build up on location with various lights, flashes, soft boxes, grids and colour filters using three main setups. I also tried using LED lights but I am not a big fan as you really need to use your ISO to get to a decent shutter speed then you start to lose quality.
Sandisk SSD storage – as I am travelling a lot, I store all my work on hard drives, and this one is my favourite as it’s proved to be very durable.
I also store everything online at www.Potoshelter.com, which I recommend for any amateur or professional photographer, as it is an integrated sales platform that allows you to share and sell your work very easily.
I always pack at least five batteries for the camera and a battery pack for my mobile phone, as I constantly need it during the races. I also have two fast chargers and loads of different cables close at hand.
GARMIN Fenix Chronos Watch – this is a great smartwatch, and it makes perfect sense for me as Garmin is a team sponsor. I can stay up to date with a quick glance at my wrist without taking my focus away from the cycle racing. It’s a great device for tracking my personal fitness and movements on the bike as well.
I would be lost without my Oakley sunglasses, as they are good protection while on the road with travel. Don’t leave without them!
I use Manfrotto tripods for my studio work and sometimes for something special, using a low shutter speed. I think every photographer needs one just in case, and it doesn’t need to be expensive as long as it is sturdy.
Macbook Pro – 16”, 2021, 32Gb RAM, 2Tb HD. I use this one daily with WACOM Intuos Pro for some editing as it speeds the process up for me.
Macbook Pro – 15”, 2018, 16Gb RAM, 500Gb HD, my spare laptop.
Otherwise, all my editing is in the latest version of Adobe Lightroom, where I use my own self-made presets. For my studio and commercial work, I will use Adobe Photoshop.
Killing time on the road between cycling races and stages is a mix of reading magazines and books or playing my Nintendo Switch, my current favourite game, AC Revelations.