Joost van Manen

Joost van Manen is an award-winning photographer that is specialized in portraits, arts and fashion (lingerie, sports and swimwear). He also photographs and films for environment- and animal welfare organizations.

Who is …?

I am a visual storyteller; a dreamer. With my photos I am trying to convert dreams into stories. Even if the story is just 1 image. In a world of make-believe I like to portray pure and honest images.

Where do you call home?

Amsterdam is where I am based and where I have my studio. I love to travel the world and feel at home in many different places.

Are you self taught or schooled?
I studied at the Academy for Photography in Amsterdam. That was a great start – but from there onwards, I learned most by working as a photographer. Using my experience of what works (and what doesn’t!) has developed me to what I am today.

How did you get into photography?

After I studied business economics & management at university, there were interesting job and career opportunities ahead of me in corporate life. Even so, I was drawn so much to photography that after a few years, I decided to follow my heart to become more creative, to express more, and to be a photographer. It was a rough start and still is a bumpy road at times, but I love to take photos and to work with talented and creative people.

How long have you been a photographer?

15 years

As you look through the viewfinder, what is the most critical moment in the capture of your image?

A look, an expression, lines, curves, light, sensuality, or a perfect smile; it must attract your eye instantly.

How would you describe your style?

I am aiming for authenticity, serenity, elegance, purity, sophistication and sensuality in an image.

What do you think makes a truly memorable photo?

When it is cracking your brain, intrigues your eyes and excites your heart.

Do you have a muse or favorite model?

Quite a few. There are several models and actors/actresses that I have worked with on different occasions. If the model and me can create art, and can have a good laugh, it is great to cooperate more often, and have a special bond.

We know that each of us has someone or something, which inspires our life and work. Can you tell us the true basis of your inspiration?

I am from the MTV generation. The early days, that is, when it was less about real life shows, and still really about videos. Clips from Herb Ritts, Stéphane Sednaoui, Anton Corbijn, Jean-Baptiste Mondino, etc made me look for who made these great images. I realized that many of the video directors were actually photographers. I started to buy photography books and magazines, and studied the works of these giants.

What does fashion mean to you?

Just like a good photo, fashion is about art and expressing yourself.

What’s the craziest/funniest thing that ever happened in one of your shoots?

In order to photograph the mayor of Amsterdam, I asked him to stand on a wobbly chair on the balcony of the 10th floor of a building. It was a great shot, but it was close to Amsterdam having to look for a new mayor. I am usually more careful with my subjects, but you have to go the extra mile for a good image!

What photographers from the past or present have influenced you the most?

It has changed over the years, but the photographers like Herb Ritts, Demarchelier, Helmut Newton, Erwin Olaf, Ellen von Unwerth to name a few have paved the roads for many.

What has been your favorite photo location or session?

Cape Town is always a joy as a city, but I feel very comfortable in my own studio

What type of cameras do you shoot with?

Usually Canon. The speed, durability and quality of these cameras are great. Whether on a sandy beach, on high rocks, or on a rainy day, Canon keeps delivering.

If you had to choose one lens which one would it be and why?

That depends on which camera I am using, and the project, but I prefer to stay close to the subject and a 50mm usually makes me happy.

What is your favorite photography accessory, other than your camera?

Any app to check the weather and the position of the sun.

How important is Photoshop in your final images?

Less and less. It helps a lot to improve an image, and it is quite vital, but I love purity and like to keep it as real as possible.

How important is a website and social media for your business?

Very important; it shows your work and interests. Yet it is usually the last thing that I have time for!

Do you play music whilst shooting? If so, what are you playing right now?

Always in the studio; usually something up-beat.


What advice do you have for somebody who wants to pursue photography?

Do try it, if you love photography. Many people do. If you are considering to make it your job, then please realize that clicking the button is just a minor aspect of the work; Social-, financial-, and planning- skills – to name a few – are just as important to make it out there.

What lies ahead for you?

More important than publications or exhibitions, I am looking forward to meet new talented and creative people.

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