Hans Verleur is a Dutch photographer based in Haarlem, 20km to the west of Amsterdam. This is where Hans found the right balance between the city and nature, and the inspirational drive to shoot his outstanding pictures. Hans has been traveling the world since an early age and his first subjects as a photographer were his dog and his model airplanes. New York was the city which saw the birth of his professional career as a photographer. In this interview he gives us insights into his approach for the projects he works on.
Production Paradise: How did you end up in New York assisting Steven Klein and Bruce Weber, both well-known international photographers, and what did you learn from them?
Hans Verleur: I started off working in many different jobs including the classical restaurant work. I found my first job in a photo studio through a job advertising. One thing lead to another and a bit of luck, hard work and some intuition got me in further contact with leading names in the industry.
Bruce Weber opened a new universe to me, the world of fashion and celebrity photography, as he was one of the first people I worked with. With Steven Klein, we did a lot of studio work, which taught me more technical skills.
Production Paradise: When did you decide to start your own career as a photographer?
Hans Verleur: After working for a short period as a geologist in corporate firms I decided that a more creative environment would fit me better. Photography and later also film seemed to me a great way to combine making a living with personal development. After having assisted for some years, I became manager of a film studio at Virgin Digital Studios, where we worked on commercials and music videos. At some point I felt ready to start my own imaging career.
Production Paradise: What were the most difficult problems you faced when starting out ?
Hans Verleur: One of the things starting up was that clients like to see published work, but before getting published work you need clients. Actually that was more a thing in the Netherlands, where they tend to organize everything by rules. In the US it was more a matter of trust and mutual good feeling. At first I worked for magazines, but after I got my first big advertising job I started to work more for ad agencies. It is the co-creation which I like in advertising.
Production Paradise: How would you describe your photographic style and from where does it derive?
Hans Verleur: I would say it is cinematographic and I like to make an image beautiful or, as I call it, balanced. In a sense that I go the extra length to balance out a scene.
Naturally beautiful is subjective and almost suspect in modern art. To me though, it is the essence of my work.
Production Paradise: Can you mention any secret techniques that you use in your work, which would be of interest to our readers? They’ll keep it a secret I promise.
Hans Verleur: I learned a lot about lighting by trying to copy light from the photographers I assisted. In my work the outcome is always very personal an intuitive.
I have no fixed set up for light but I usually take the natural light conditions as starting point and subsequently build it to a balance.
Production Paradise: You say, the light tells an important part of the story. Can you describe your approach to lighting your subjects?
Hans Verleur: I think lighting is an integral part of the story that I want to tell. It should fit the story that is told, or emphasize this story. If natural light is the best fit, I will use artificial light in such way that it supports the natural light condition.
Production Paradise: What has been your most memorable assignment and why?
Hans Verleur: Tough question. In fact all of the assignments are unique in their own right and each and every one has contributed to my development as a photographer. I enjoy the energy and synergy of large productions and crews but can also enjoy the intimacy of a simple portrait.
Definitely one of my most unusual one was for an off-shore company. I was dropped by a helicopter 100 km’s out of the coast of South Africa on a vessel with 70.000 M3 crude oil on board. A big chunk of time during my 10 days stay on board was filled with safety measures and safety courses!
Production Paradise: How do you see the near future?
Hans Verleur: I keep a close look on certain technical developments and how to integrate those in my present work. This will also bring my still and moving imaging closer together. Technical development keeps changing the way we work which is a challenge and exciting at the same time.
Production Paradise: How has being a member of Production Paradise helped you?
Hans Verleur: Since I found a fantastic producer in Milan, Pirate Production, through Production Paradise I decided to join Production Paradise as well, I only recently joined and it has not created extra business yet. But this blog might start it off!
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