Tuesday, April 15, 2014


Maxime Willems

Chapter 7

                                                             La  honte! (...) is the least one can say about my inactivity on this blog; it has been one month since my last post and more than 9 months that Chapter 6 has been penned. Since, 3 seasons have passed by. In my defence, I do have a solid alibi explaining my absence. (where is my lawyer when I need him?)

Further to all the recent "marketing spam", some may have noticed that the past 6 months have been about completing a Master's degree an major career changes. Puis, they were about really arriving in Paris (depuis le temps...), and new upcoming projects. Bref! they were about letting go a job, and old love, fake friends,... and making room for the new.

After 6 months of studies in Brand Management I should be able to promote my own brand (not!). So, here's the new, here's the real, here's the life you wished you live, now here's the new girl taking on the world tonight... After 6 months of hard work on a professional and personal level I find myself with an overdose of information in my brain (fortunately I let go enough so there was enough space) and an upgrade on various levels: Herewith I am lucky to finally introduce the photography website matching this blog with a selection of my best pictures including a few previously unreleased treasures :

Feel free to visit, comment and share. I hope this first project will excuse my recent photography and blogging inactivity. Pardon my French, I am just so excited, I am taking on the world tonight.

Saturday, March 15, 2014


You don't make a photograph
just with a camera.
You bring to the act of photography
all the pictures you have seen,
the books you have read,
the music you have heard,
the people you have loved.

Friday, February 21, 2014


Maxime Willems


Master 2 - Marketing, communication et stratégies commerciales
Management de la marque - Marketing opérationnel & fidélisation
Mr Patrice Laubignat - Février 2014

Wednesday, February 5, 2014



Entering a 5 star luxury hotel always has something magical. By stepping into these splendid creations the customer gets transcended into a world where perfection is norm. I experience the same pleasant state of mind everytime I pass their doors. You'll find me enjoying the impressive interior design while catching the fragrance of the place, getting taken away by the background music and foremost slowing down on the outside and inside, telling myself that I can calm down and relax for a little while in this comfort zone...
... until! (would have been to good to be true), until a very well trained staff member allows himself to burst my bubble in less than a second by disturbing my absence of mind by imposing his service to me.

Herewith I am officially not the easiest guest but definitely not the only one feeling bothered by fuzzy customer service. Though, none of the employees wants to be annoying. Quite the contrary; they follow a well defined code adapted to the luxury industry and each company's values and missions in order to make the guest have the best quality stay. As a former hotel management student with experience within a few of such hotels I remember myself in front of this bible of 227 rules and quotes that I was supposed to follow and preach. Obviously, these standards are supposed to complete this striving to perfection but on the other hand don't they entail a very impersonal level of interaction, turning their guests into a dime a dozen?

Previous summer I finally made a very different experience. The Hyatt company seems to have noticed this consumer insight and has developed a distinguished concept: the Andaz brand. I had learned about the launch of the brand years ago during my internship at the Park Hyatt in Paris, so while planning the weekend trip to Amsterdam, I did not think twice about where to stay. 

I must admit, with their very casual approach , Andaz brings the customer experience to another level. At a time where many actors are still having a hard time with emotional marketing and still think in B to C (business to consumer) instead of H to H (human to human), Hyatt managed to lead the way with this innovative concept.

It is not just the open-space architecture, designed by Marcel Wanders, that enables the feeling of freedom. This principle runs like a red thread trough the entire stay. From the check-in to the departure, they let you be yourself. Instead of throwing all the information at us at the arrival, the receptionist (if you can call him a receptionist as there is no real reception in the lobby) noticed how lost we were on a geographical level and invited us with "hey folks, have a drink at the bar while I'll do your check-in and explain the entire map to you!". He made this moment even more casual and brought it to a personal level by letting us know his opinion and giving some really tailor-made advise. Probably they just let him be himself and his does not have 227 quotes to remember under his pillow (...).

During the entire stay nobody would ever come and disturb us. At the same time they provided excellent customer service and went the extra-mile when we requested their help. Isn't that true luxury and real perfection ?

Simplicity always will be the ultimate form of sophistication.

NB : The pictures above are the evident proof of them letting me be myself; I was feeling so free end ended up picturing the entire hotel, thus combining my passion for the hotel industry and branding with the one for photography. For two entire hours it was just the two of us : the Andaz Amsterdam and myself.
I now understand more and more my emotional marketing class, where we study the love for a brand. I am only dedicating this review to this hotel because of my love towards the place (no commercial post ;) ), a result of their respect and personal interactions with me, during and after the stay. It's not just the place - it's the people.
Yet, another post in the collection of "make your life memorable!".

Sunday, February 2, 2014


"Adopt the pace of nature: her secret is patience."
@ Jardin des serres d'Auteuil, Paris 16e, September 2013

Friday, January 24, 2014


I was very proud back in October when I uploaded my selection of pictures for my participation in the annual "Le plus grand concours photo du monde" organised by the renowned magazine PHOTO, 10 days before closing date. As you all may know from previous editions, I am a last minute person and usually late in real life (...). But this time I even checked in advance for when the pictures were due and put a note into my agenda to book an entire Sunday evening to take care of this project. I may have thought that after having been rewarded last year, it would be the least to take this serious and to be professional.

Two and a half month later, I found myself walking to the same library where I bought the PHOTO magazine last year but with a very different attitude. Nervous on my way to the library, agitated while looking for the photography magazines, shivering when I saw this year's edition of the PHOTO magazine, tense when I started thumbing through it.

Why all this stess?
I was not just competing against the 49.999 other pictures, I was foremost competing against myself; my best self who made it into the winners last year. The probability to make it into the final 1% is so small, but to make it into the laureates two years in a row is nearly impossible.

And there it was; in the top left corner of page 86 :
The inconsiderable (un"schein"bar) picture I had taken at Houston Airport in summer 2011 on my way to Mexico. Two years ago, on January 18th 2012, I dedicated a post on this Blog to it naming it "BRILLIANT", related to the "Shoe Shine" advert.  A post without any further details, no explanations, absolutely self-sufficient.

Apparently picture N°94 decided to live up to its name and stood out from the crowd by shining from within.

Monday, January 20, 2014


In the Blogger world you have to make one decision, either at the very beginning or within the first year of your blogging adventure : to be either nonprofit (Greenpeace - and those guys with the Panda - style, (...) or to go commercial.
Obviously, in my case, I do not earn any penny over here. But anyways, I am, and always have been, an amateur photographer, sharing my naif way of seeing this world and not a Blogger. This STP (segment - target - positioning) (waaays toooo much marketing studying going on in this place) has been determined from the very beginning and redefined every time I get one of those either Blogger-ego or Photographer-not enough privacy crises.

Some may have noticed that "LIFE BEHIND MY LENS" can be considered as the wrong expression as behind the lens does not signify what I actually see and picture aka in front of my lens. Still, I consider that, as I illustrate my emotions and feelings towards a picture, you get to know the "behind the scenes" and get lots of insights of what is going on on my mind behind this camera, this name is totally making sens. (And I really should have learned during those marketing studies that my brand's name should not even require to be explained. Fair enough).

For myself, I am used to be behind the lens, taking pictures of the beauty around me. It was very unusual when I found myself on the other side of the camera during the past week. The occasion: a street marketing campaign for my Master's class. The assignment was to promote an anti-wrinkle cream for a fake brand, an avatar of Lancôme, which we named Fantôme, nothing spooky though so have a look at the 2 minuts video via this link:


So far we got 400 views and will be graded on the number of views, so please feel free to knock yourself out and spread the news.

And yes, herewith I am officially using this Blog for "commercial" benefits : to promote our brand and project.

It was my classmate Christine who took the role of Creative Director and who was behind the lens on that day, which was absolutely the right choice because of her amazing talent to capture emotions like these :

Besides the main operation that you can see in the video, there has been going on loads of work in advance. To share a sneak peek into the behind the scenes we have produced this video of our Sunday spent at Cook & Go (double commercial this time ;). I was more than weird and a little heart-breaking to be back in that place where I spent most of my time during the last two years in Paris :


After more than two years of discovering the "BEHIND MY LENS" aka my mind, I hope you enjoyed this insight into the life going on "IN FRONT OF MY LENS". As usual "something somewhere went terribly wrong" because usually it's exactly the other way around how you get to see the behind the scenes. But, this comes close to the subject of my previous post where I mentioned that by always looking at everything through the camera, by over-analyzing you tend to miss out some moments, the emotions, to actually live and to be "all in" in your own life. For once a memory I did not capture with my eyes but with all my heart.

To make all this happen, we had to do the don't : dare!
In order to push this commercial post to its limit : please share !