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Interview with Frank Doorhof

It should be compulsory for all photographers new and old to watch Frank’s lighting tutorials on KelbyTraining. This is where I first came across his work and since then I have been able to follow him on twitter and google+. Frank’s blog is updated daily with some great information and he isn’t afraid to provide a ton of useful information in the RAW interview. Your going to love this one.

Frank Doorhof

Frank Doorhof

Tell us a little about yourself?

My name is Frank Doorhof, I’m a fashion photographer based in the Netherlands.
Within my work the main focus is in teaching workshops. In the past I did some work for magazines, but somehow I did not want to do this for many year. Don’t get me wrong, I still love to shoot for the magazines, but I’m a lot more picky now a days. 

Teaching has been into my blood from an early start, even at school I was already more than willing to do activities like “presentations” etc. and later this developed into giving seminars for photography. Actually I never wanted to teach to be honest, somehow I never found myself good enough to teach but after a few test workshops (just for fun) people loved my approach to the subject and more and more people contacted me for the workshops, and because I have a real passion for teaching for me the decision was made very quickly and I started developing a program which now goes under the name “why fake it, when you can create it” where I really point my students towards understanding, measuring and manipulating light.

In the last few years everything has gone very quickly. We released 7 instructional DVDs, which are sold worldwide and we are now working on the 8th. For several manufactures I teach small (and bigger) workshops/seminars and also frequently demo on big exhibitions like Photokina, Professional imaging etc.

In 2010 I joined the Kelby media group as their first European photography instructor, which for me was a huge honor. In 2011 I started doing Photoshop world as an instructor which is without a doubt, at this moment in time one of the “coolest” things I can imagine.

What made you get into photography?

I always had a passion for images, moving and stills. My parents and grandparents had their own dark rooms, this is were I really learned to love photography, the magic of beginning with nothing (a blank piece of paper) and seeing the photo appear is still something that really amazes me, and yes now a days we all have digital, but to be honest I still sometimes shoot with film in a Mamiya RZ67ProII (which I normally use with a Leaf digital back), and I just love the process of film and seeing the negatives/slides come in.

I also did motion a few years but never really liked it at that point, so I bought my first digital camera 14 years ago (1997) and never looked back. The funny thing is that since the release of the 5DMKII I’m moving to motion again, however photography is still my main focus without any doubt, but with the options I have now with light and digital I can much easier tell my story.

What sort of photography do you mainly do?

At the moment I mainly focus on People.
This can be models, I think most people know me from my fashion/glamour/beauty work. But I also love to shoot artists, sporters etc. my main attraction is in characters, “real” people so to say.

Because of the workshops we travel a lot and during the travels I’m always carrying at least one camera, I have to admit that I just love to shoot travel stuff, it started as just “snaps” but slowly it moved into more and I’m now more and more looking to shoot that really unique image, so I think to be direct that I just love every kind of photography as long as I can loose myself in it creativily.

What gear are you using?

I love the expression that the best camera is the one with you, but to be honest it’s 100% true. For example I upgraded my iPhone4 to the 4s just for the camera, we do a lot of backstage images and videos with the iPhone4 and the new camera is just great for this stuff.

For my work I use a 5DMKII when I need fast responses, high ISO etc. for the work where I can control my light my main choice is the Phase One DF camera body with a Leaf AptusII7 digital back. I love the Leafs for their rendition of color and the great support team behind the backs. My choice for MF was mainly due to the more “lifelike” images and the depth that is in the shots. I do always choose the bigger sensors I have to add, so this helps a lot.

Whats your favourite lens and why?

None. All my gear are just tools and I strongly believe that you can’t hit a nail in the wall with a screwdriver so adding one lens as favorite does now work for me. There are some lenses I use a lot.
On the 5DMKII I love to walk around with the 24-105IS L, mainly because I also want to film and it has a nice reach for street photography (my style). For model photography I love the 70-200 f2.8 L IS.

On Medium format I love the Schneider 80mm f2.8 because of it’s leaf shutter lens (higher sync speeds with strobes), but most of the time in the studio I will be using the Mamiya 105-210 which I really like for all the rest.

So not one lens, whatever I need to get the shot and the vision I have for that shot. Hardware is just…. Well tools, know how to use them and don’t force yourself to “pixel peep” in front of a monitor, learn to tell the story and the rest is in my opinion second.

How are you marketing yourself?

Actually not, and a lot.
 I don’t like people that scream from the highest mountains how good they are. I truly believe that if you are a “person”, approachable and willing to help people out that everything will go by itself, good things will just happen. 

I do of course promote myself a lot but in a different way I think, on www.frankdoorhof.com for example I try to post a daily update, this can vary from some new images to rather long technical pieces, videos etc. Plus people can ask whatever they want, and if the answer will be too long, I will write a blog post about it.

I’m also very active with social media, for example I love Google+ at the moment, www.frankdoorhof.com/+ and also share a lot there, but also twitter of course. So I think if you call that promotion, than I think I promote myself a lot, however I always try to make it more about my work, helping people out etc. than me as a person, I find myself not interesting enough, the combination of my photography and the sharing of knowledge however are both things I love to do and that seems to hit base with a lot of people.

Whats your favourite photo you have taken?

Advice for new photographers looking to go pro?

Realize what going pro means? 
Because I really don’t have a clue 
Do the things you love, but know what you do. But don’t expect to earn a load of money and travel the world, with Photography you have to be really lucky to achieve this and it’s something that most people think that photography as a pro is all about. 99% of the time however for 99% of the photographers you do normal photoshoots, people, weddings, portraits etc. but that 1% is what will get your creative juices flowing, but the 99% makes you enjoy it, it might not be glamorous that 99% but it’s better than sitting in a cubicle and doing a 9-5 because it has to be done. However for most people doing the 9-5 will mean earning their money a lot easier than being a “pro” photographer.

For me… I wouldn’t want to do anything else, even if I could earn twice as much with an office job without photography I would still do what I love. We only are on this world for a small amount of time, make those years count and make sure when you look back you can say that you did something instead of that you loved to have done something, and remember that money is not the most important thing in live. So the best tip is to realize this…. 

After that it’s a very nice and inspiring job, you meet a lot of people and most of the time also have a lot of fun, but it’s a very hard job, long but most of all irregular hours for not so much pay. You have to be prepared to think outside the box of 9-5 and you will have to learn how to plan this with your family or loved ones.

And of course, LEARN your trade, there are a lot of shooters out their (calling themselves photographers) who know one trick and that’s it, if you really want to go PRO, learn photography, learn to understand light, learn to master it to let it do what YOU want, and that takes time. And I understand you can make a great image without knowing anything about light, just by looking at the big polaroid on the back of your camera, however when you want to go “pro” you will also have to be able to translate your clients vision into an image, and trust me, that’s a whole different ball game.

Visit Frank Doorhof – website / blog, twitter and google+

Author Tristan

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