Improvement means constant learning and stepping out of your comfort zone. Especially for creatives – the more you challenge yourself, the more you learn. To illustrate to you how that plays out in practice, we decided to reach out to Robert.
In this blogpost you’ll find out more about Robert’s interest in photography. Specifically by using the lighting style of old Dutch master painters such as Johannes Vermeer. Also, you will read how – even during Covid-19 times – Robert manages to work on an amazing project that involved a lot of people!
This is Robert van Hall, born in Arnhem and now living in The Hague, Netherlands. After being an ICT application manager, Robert decided it was time for a change – and followed his passion to become a portrait photographer that specializes in photographing in the lighting style of old Dutch master painters.
“For me, photography is about telling the story, trying to let the viewer have insight into the personality of the person in the photograph.”
The first time Robert used a camera was already in high school when he did a little bit of photography with a borrowed camera of a friend of his (the only way to borrow a camera before Gearbooker, really). He started with portrait photography for the first time approximately three years ago. Yet, it is more than just portrait photography for him – it is also an appreciation of the way the old Dutch master painters played with lighting and shadows.
Inspired by the old Dutch masters
As mentioned, Roberts photography is heavily based on the lighting style of the old Dutch master painters. Robert emphasizes that he has always been fascinated by the painters of the Dutch ‘Golden Century’ and Italian Renaissance period: “Especially their use of light and shadow, the contrast play between light and shadow makes the paintings seem very three-dimensional”.
When looking at Robert’s portrait photography, people often mention that it almost seems as if you’re looking at a painting! According to Robert, this is one of the best compliments anyone can get as a photographer. “Achieving this style is not easy at all and requires a lot of self-study and attending workshops to master these necessary skills”.
Contemporary yet classic
Robert himself describes his work as “contemporary, painting-like portraits that are modern yet with a strong link to the classic style”. He emphasizes that for him it is really important to get to know the people in advance who he is taking pictures of. Robert says, “photography is about telling the story, trying to let the viewer have insight into the personality of the person in the photograph”.
We asked Robert what else are essential things to him when preparing for a photoshoot. “To me it’s not only getting to know the person, but also sitting down together and creating a moodboard”. This way he can make sure that both, him and the person, have a clear idea of the expectations from the outcome of the photoshoot.
” Don’t give up! 99% of the beginning photographers give up. Be that 1% that does not!”
Portraits in Corona times
When Robert stopped working as an ICT Application manager to become a fulltime photographer, it was March 2020, so just when Corona first began in the Netherlands. Then he said to himself: “I can’t just sit at home and do nothing. What can I do to keep photographing even in these times?”. Robert came up with an idea – Portraits in Corona times.
So Robert began shooting portraits as a Corona project. In total, Robert ended up taking around 150 portraits, really a lot more than he could have hoped for. Robert admits that it was a very intense project to work on, and there were weeks that this was a proper full-time job for him, but overall it was so much fun, and the number of good responses and feedback he received made it all worthwhile.
Robert’s advice for aspiring photographers
Robert’s biggest advice to anyone who is either a beginner or professional photographer: “Never give up. You know, 99% of beginners give up. Be that 1% that does not. The journey of a photographer is never-ending, it is a journey that lasts forever”. He notes that it is important to never stop learning new things. Really don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone.
Robert has collected quite an amount of photographic equipment over the years. He therefore uses the Gearbooker platform to allow other creatives to rent his gear when he does not need it himself. Robert told us that when he first found out about Gearbooker, he could not believe that he hadn’t heard about the platform previously. “The more gear I get, the less likely that I am using it all the time. That is why I registered it at Gearbooker”.
“For me why Gearbooker is so great – I can still keep my equipment for when I need it and still earn some money with it.”
Plus, Robert mentions that he also thinks it’s a great opportunity to meet and connect with other photographers and creatives – “an amazing chance to establish connections”!