A picture paints a thousand words but none can read without light. A masterful manipulation of illumination by Per-Andre Hoffman
Text: Lim Jun Xi
Dubbed the “Magician of Light” in photography circles, ASIAN Geographic speaks to Per-Andre Hoffmann, a Canon brand ambassador known for his skill in manipulating light. Hoffmann’s works have been published in numerous magazines like National Geographic Magazine and Vogue.
Q: What is your photography style?
PA: I visualise my final image first: how I want my subject to be perceived by viewers, and what needs to be done in order to execute that objective. Creating previsualised images for me includes investing all the time needed for that particular image. Maybe waiting for the perfect moment, the most photogenic people in my frame, an awesome natural light or whatever else may enhance my personal interpretation. I like injecting artificial light into the scene, and I have had elaborate light setups with nearly ten lamps for just one scene. Artificial light is – as I see it – the wonderful world of spices in photography. For me, a photo sans light is like a chicken curry sans curry. I have even used light setups for high risk situations like teenage killers in Uganda – a situation in which I felt I ought to prudently “take the shot and run”.
I have been to all seven continents and over one hundred countries, but Asia has attracted me the most. There is so much to love about Asia – the enormous diversity in natural beauty, nature and wildlife, religions and cultures, ethnicities and people, philosophies and life styles, charm and magic. Obviously all parts of the world have their own photographic appeal. I could not realistically compare their varied qualities, but my personal taste definitely gravitates me towards Asia.
Q: What is the most important feature of any good photograph?
PA: Everybody shoots sunsets, but truth be told, most sunset photos are in fact mediocre photography, which gain their appreciation through the mere fact that the subject matter is so beautiful and colourful. A good photograph should engage the viewer, evoke emotions, touch hearts, express a personal interpretation of the motif. It must have been seen differently. It should be technically flawless. It is a common belief that excellent photography is all about finding beautiful motifs, seeing and clicking. But excellent photography is just as much about shooting ordinary – or even ugly motifs – in an excellent way.
Q: How do you choose the subjects of your photographs?
PA: I will always shoot whatever photogenic (not necessarily beautiful) subject matters are found along the way. I like challenging subjects demanding much effort and an elaborate light setup. During the days of film, I would sometimes spend days for one single shot.
Q: What got you started on photography?
PA: have a photo of myself, 6 or 7 years of age, in which I am holding an empty polaroid cartridge in my face and framing a scenery through the rectangular hole. I guess that was my first attempt at photography. My first real camera SLR I received a few years later. Then slowly submitting works to magazines, gaining recognition, receiving assignments, starting work with renowned clients.
For more of Hoffmann’s work, visit his page here