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Some photographers exclusively capture portrait imagery; some specialize in landscape or documentary photography. But for Jeroen Hofman, “It’s the vision of three… I work editorially, in advertising and on my personal projects for exactly one third of my time on each”.
The diverse range of subject matter covered by Hofman meant finding one camera system to satisfy all disciplines would, he thought, prove a tall order. When I talk to him he’s in his Amsterdam studio after recently returning from London where he spent a day photographing Arsenal footballer Robin van Persie. The Dutch international footballer is one of a long line of famous soccer players and sportsmen who have sat for Hofman that include Dirk Kuyt and boxing great Joe Frazier (shortly before he passed away in 2011).
Hofman previously used to shoot with a DSLR but he found that the quality wasn’t up to scratch. He owned a Hasselblad V-series camera and lenses and made the jump to medium format digital capture with a Phase One P40+ digital back. “I chose the Phase One back because of its versatility and also because I really love to work with Capture One,” he tells me. He then made the switch to the complete Phase One camera system. “The reason why I swapped was because I had a lot of trouble to get the V-series to focus precisely in a short period of time. So what I wanted was a good, reliable camera.”
Switching camera systems proved to be a breeze, “It took half an hour to get used to the 645DF after using the Hasselblad V camera,” he enthuses. He has also discovered a number of benefits to his working practice. “The workflow is now twice as fast, sometimes four times as fast as the old camera system,” he states excitedly before saying, “when I was using the Hasselblad camera I had to shoot an LCC* file as it still had a little bit of color cast. But now I’m using the DF camera, there is no color cast and Moiré is even better.”
The Phase One 645DF camera has proved such a success, that he now uses it to capture all of his portrait commissions. “I wanted to shoot and work faster. When I previously did a close portrait, I worked from a tripod and had a very static approach. What I like with the Phase One camera is that I can walk around and anticipate what somebody is about to do... The lenses and the autofocus really work well; I can really get the sharpness on the eyes – it’s perfect!” It has also helped separate him from the competition, he confides, “Clients always ask, ‘what camera is that?’ They definitely know the difference when you’re working with a DSLR and a Phase One camera system. If they have experienced shoots before, they instantly recognize what you’re working with so they love it.”
Hofman now works with a P65+ digital back with the Phase One 645DF although he is not confined to this camera format. His shooting needs often change according to the subject and approach he takes to his next commission or project. Part of his purchasing decision was due to the benefits that open platform Phase One digital backs offer. He now also uses a Cambo technical camera on most of his self-motivated work, including his most recent personal project titled Playground. The title alludes to over sixty-five training facilities that Hofman has documented in the Netherlands that are used to prepare for disaster and emergences. “I’m showcasing a part of the Netherlands that nobody knows about. These are the types of places that made you wonder, as a child, what was on the other side of the fence.”