It’s been a  long time since the last blog post… end of January I was travelling for a week in Germany, which kept me from developing and scanning film – of course I had to schedule some shoots in Berlin as well, which added to the pile of undeveloped film. Now I am up to speed again and can process at the same speed as I am shooting… and I would love to shoot even more. There are so many great models on my “to-do” list currently that I am trying to squeeze in additional shoots wherever possible.

I want to start using this blog as a way to answer some of the most frequently asked question I am receiving…and one of them is how to find models – and Nina is a good example. I saw her on a snapshot of one of my facebook friends. I sent a friend request and asked if she would be interested in taking some pictures together…  so she is something like the (very pretty) girl next door – in the facebook world. And she confirmed my long-time observation that it is not true that an experienced model will be easy to photograph, and a beginner difficult – not at all. There are so many models in my portfolio who were absolute beginners with maybe 2-3 shoots – or sometimes none at all – and they did a great job. I have been shooting with some internationally experienced models where it took ages until we managed to get a half-way natural expression….  almost every day in the Metro I see a girl that would be wonderful to photograph… I just have to work on my courage a bit to just go and ask …

on a side note: somebody said that there are no boring models, only boring photographers… something I like to remember if a model is a bit more difficult to photograph … to not give up.

The most usual /classical way to find models is to use sites like modelmayhem – and every country has at least one similar local site. Another good way is to contact model agencies and ask if they have some “new faces” they need pictures of. If they like your pictures, this can be a very fruitful source of very pretty faces…. nowadays I find most models on facebook – having lots of photographers and models in my network, lots of pictures float around with lots of pretty  faces … you can say lots about facebook, but as a networking tool its fantastic.

…back to this shoot. Location is a beautiful Bed and Breakfast in Brussels – and after I was desperately trying to find a halfway pretty hotel room in Berlin I really appreciated living (and shooting) in Belgium – nice and stylish hotels and bed and breakfasts are quite common… light was difficult, so I was using Delta 3200 Film most of the time, some Kodak Tri-X when we were shooting close to the window… Contax 645 and Nikon FM3a…




  1. 8. February 2012 / 19:45

    new to your work and website. the obvious: a stellar portfolio with incredibly beautiful women as centerpieces. less obvious: your technical approach to lighting. appears that much/most of your work features ambient lighting. true? or are you just masterful at artificial lighting?

    • 8. February 2012 / 19:51

      Thanks Mikael – 95% of my shots are with ambient light… normally I only have a small backpack with two cameras and some film with me and dont bother with heavy studio lights …window light is just simple and beautiful

      • 9. February 2012 / 02:33

        Ambient light is wonderful. Often, sadly, many photographers believe they haven’t “made it” till they learn OCF. Like me, once I did, and if done right, it can be very nice.

        However, the quality of a photographer and the resulting work, is to let the light that falls on the subject, and that model, be the star. Richard Avedon evangelized about getting just what was taking place between the subject and him…and then just the subject and the camera.

        Though studio light has it’s place, to me there is nothing more pretty than diffused window light on a woman, recorded on film.

      • 9. February 2012 / 10:38

        first of all wonderfull serie 🙂 .. and intresting explination too … would love to hear more about how you make these shoots happen … always good to learn from the pro’s

        now why i reply on this comment … you say 95% is ambient light .. i seen in your backstage shots that you sometimes use lighting equipment too but do you ever use reflectors in combination with ambient light?

      • 9. February 2012 / 13:34

        Thanks Stijn, I used them regularly when still shooting digital… I have a sunbouncer mini, which is very effective if need be, but I am just to lazy to take it with me…. and I am hardly ever missing it.

  2. 8. February 2012 / 20:10

    Wonderful work, as usual !
    Do you work with a tripod or something similar ? You have not much light here, and it must be quite difficult to have steady pictures with such low light ambiance.

  3. 8. February 2012 / 20:17

    great to see you back on your blog, not only on facebook. it’s better (for me) to see and feel the whole story. by the way: i love the grainy pics on this set. greetz, thomas

    • Dirk
      8. February 2012 / 21:31

      Have to agree with 4spo – very nice to see you back on your blog not only facebook – also like to see more than one or two pictures of the story.
      Great pictures as ever. The dark silhouettes are incredible.

  4. 8. February 2012 / 22:34

    You don’t need any nude picture for speak about intimacy Master.
    Great set, and I wait for the others that we seen on facebook preview’s

  5. danielklaas
    8. February 2012 / 22:48

    Hi Jan. Wonderful as always mate.

    Interesting about approaching agencies for new models. Might try this approach too. Model Mayhem is OK, but not always the nicest site.

    Also much can be said for natural light. With 3200, even the darkest room can be beautifully lit. One of my favourite films.


  6. Federico
    8. February 2012 / 22:56

    Hi Jean, sorry for my english, i try to explain to you taht in italy is not so simple as in north europe. I italy if you ask for a room where make some picture you have to pay, often, more than the normal price of the room for sleeping…
    here the pepole seems more interesting to make money around your job. you describe a world really different from that i live all day. I would’nt be so negative about Italy but unfortunately the situation is very different…
    I am very interesting about your photography style, about the style of the location that you choose. Your pictures are poetry for their expressive.
    thank you for the inspiration!

    • 9. February 2012 / 13:38

      It is not always easy in Belgium as well… sometimes you get a really good deal, sometimes you pay for the night, sometimes they offer it for free or a small cleaning charge.. its just so much nicer than a studio in my opinion… and if you have to rent a decent studio it gets really expensive…. the best is still outdoors – for free and beautiful..

      • Federico
        9. February 2012 / 15:39

        I am happy to listen your words, in these case i am less demoralized… I go with new energy for a new search! thank you!

  7. 8. February 2012 / 23:11

    Jan, lovely photos and mood. Well done again. I completely agree with your points about experienced models. They are used to exaggerated fashion poses one can see on every magz these days! So, you are dead right that getting natural expressions from such models are damn hard! Keep up the great work 🙂

  8. 9. February 2012 / 00:04

    Can you recommend modeling agencies I could contact in Paris? I’m spending a week there in April and I’d love to take some pictures 🙂

  9. 9. February 2012 / 00:45

    Hooray, a new blog post and a time to rejoice 🙂 Lovely images that were worth waiting for. Which dev did you use for the Delta 3200?
    It’s funny to see you shooting on Delta 3200 because I just got back from shooting some of that myself this evening backstage at a theatre production.

    Please keep the blog posts coming. Thanks 🙂

  10. 9. February 2012 / 21:18

    Thank you, not only for sharing your amazing work but also all these insights which motivate me to be better.
    I find the courage part is the hardest since you don’t know how somebody may take it when approached on the street.
    Specially after so many bad stories of people who just take advantage of a camera for different things.
    One thing that I still would like to know is, if you approach someone non-professional, do you still offer them a payment or are they OK only with the pictures. I’m not sure how much I should be willing to pay a model (novice, pro or semi-pro) for a personal, non-commercial project.
    I know the obvious answer is: it all depends, but I appreciate if you could give me some examples.

    Thanks again

  11. Goran
    10. February 2012 / 11:39

    I still can’t believe you do this “as a spare time activity”…
    Can’t imagine how good you are in not-a-spare-time-job 🙂

    Thanks for sharing these wonderful, inspiring images!

  12. edoorellana
    11. February 2012 / 00:14

    Photography is mainly to know about the choose of light.I think your work is really amazing and
    I want to know your aims in photography.It is only your way to show beauty or each photo has
    the pretentious to tell a story ?

  13. 17. February 2012 / 14:17

    Oh my, number 3, what a stunning picture.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *