Photographer of the week: Edith Hoffman

Edith Hoffman's original passion was painting.  A few years ago, she switched over to photography becoming her second passion.  As she never wanted to give up painting, she managed to combine her two passions in a wonderful way to create her very own style. Her work is brilliant and unique. Thanks to Yvette Depaepe for conducting the interview.


Briefly tell us about yourself, your hobbies and other jobs.
I am an autonomous/conceptual photographer and artist from The Netherlands, born in 1966. Currently, I live in Dordrecht, one of the oldest cities in The Netherlands. It has therefore a lot of historical and listed buildings.

I have however lived in various countries across the world. These included Australia, Brunei, The Philippines, England, Oman, Japan, Nigeria, Singapore and Canada. I followed my husband to all these places for his job. These travels and assignments in foreign countries have affected me deeply. It forces you to continuously adjust to changing environments; you pack and unpack your belongings, find new homes, say goodbye to friends, make new friends, etc. Although at times not easy, I fell in love with this lifestyle and miss it at the moment as we have settled back in our home country for the last 5 years.



My biggest passion is photography, it’s a way of living and a kind of meditation. I also love adventure, traveling, challenges, dancing, people, art, design, reiki and yoga. 

I started seriously with photography 7 years ago when we lived in Singapore. My initial interest was macro photography forcing me to go outdoors into nature (yes, also to be found in Singapore). I was fascinated by the wonders of nature and the details to be discovered when zooming into flowers, insects and plants. Insects and animals are behaving similar to human beings and that is quite interesting to witness.

My preference for nature and landscapes was explored in our next assignment in Canada. When we returned to base, I decided that this would be a good opportunity for a deep dive into photography. Hence, I joined initially a 2-year program at the Photography School in Rotterdam providing me with a solid grounding into many aspects of photography. After these 2 years, I decided to continue classes with another 2-year course focused on creativity. I graduated in 2015 and participated in a Photographic School sponsored Graduation Show in Amsterdam. I was very honored with winning the audience award voted out of the 57 participants.



Another highlight in my photography life has been a 2 weeks work practice with Michel Szulc Krzyzanowski, a famous Dutch autonomous/documentary photographer. This practice was in December 2014 and held in Mexico in a very rural setting, e.g. no electricity, no running water. It was a great experience close to a rancho and almost on the beach. As expected, I learned a lot and, particularly, to focus on the message you want to bring or share with your work. The most important part is to create your own image and to avoid only registering.

Which are your most important experiences that have influenced your art?
As explained above, our travels and living in different cultures have shaped my curiosity about people, in particular women, with different backgrounds. Why women? Because, even today, they are also in our society not equal to man and I disapprove of that. Women should be heard and respected since we are all equal with the same rights. Another important experience in my life has been creating art. Approximately 25 years ago, I was introduced to art painting when I joined art classes. Later, I also joined classes with Bob Tomanovic; Bob makes really great, yet different art. During those 25 years, I have been painting on and off.

In the last couple of years, things started to come together: photography, people (women), reiki and painting. 



What first attracted you to photography?
For me, the attraction of photography is “instant” result. Nowadays, with digital cameras, you can see instantaneously the result. Of course, this is just first impressions and requires more processing on the computer, but these initial impressions allow you to quickly adjust your plan if required. This was not possible in days of analog photography, or, like in my other passion, with art painting.

Describe your overall photographic vision.
My vision is telling stories. People, especially women, are my main focus and I want to tell their story. As everyone is unique, you can create unique images. I mostly do cooperative projects, so you work together with your model to get the best result. First they have to feel comfortable and let go/surrender themselves. I don’t always have a complete, preconceived idea of exactly what I’m going to do. I simply follow my intuition and I become very excited and happy when I capture a great picture. This is often spontaneous and unexpected. I think you shouldn’t plan everything upfront if you want creativity to blossom.

Why are you so drawn by Portrait and or Conceptual Photography?
I develop a very intense relationship with the women who model in my work. I treasure those special moments of interactions and personal conversations. Some become even friends. Working in this atmosphere, I become very energetic and receive lots of inspiration. By cherishing this special relationship between the model and myself, the work becomes effortless with a sense of freedom. Since everyone is unique and everyone has his or her specific way of moving and every one shows their emotion in a different and special way.



What is more important to you, the mood/story behind your images or the technical perfection?
I find both equally important. Without a good story and/or mood, there cannot be an interesting or important picture. Likewise, if the story is great or mood special, the ultimate capture is spoiled or suboptimal if the techniques are not perfect.

What generally is your relationship to your subject matter beyond being an observer?
When photographing people, my way of working is always based on establishing a bond. Ideally, this bonding starts well before the shoot when I’m able to meet up and discuss the project. During the shoot, I cherish this early bond and explore ways to move both the model and myself into the comfort zone.

Do you prepare carefully the locations where you are intending to photograph?
My work with models is at home and I turn my home into a studio. The shoots require quite some preparations. So, in case of colorful, abstract background, I paint this well in advance. Normally, the day before the shoot I’m very active in collecting everything, such as lenses, memory cards, light set-up, accessories, etc., and have them readily available. The day of the shoot starts with a comfortable heated room, with all the stuff at hand, and then the model and I are ready to go.

What gear do you use?
Currently, I’m a Nikon adept. I have 2 bodies, both full frame: a D700 and a D810. I have various lenses, ranging from zoom (14-24, 24-70, 70-200) to portrait types (50 mm and my latest a 105 mm with DR mode). Besides cameras and lenses, I have the usual gear for location and/or home/ studio, such as tripod, Lee filters, carry on flash, all stowed in a Lowe Pro bag. At home, I use a studio flash set from Bowens and have a portable background black and white set.

What software do you use to process your images?
I use Photoshop CS6. This is still a student edition as I purchased it for the course program. I probably will in the near future upgrade to the Cloud versions.

Can you tell us something about your workflow?
As explained before, my workflow is captured in one word: preparation. I plan well ahead and meet first with the model to discuss the concept and objective of the shoot. We work collectively via Pinterest to collect ideas and concepts. Based on this information, I work on backgrounds and prepare the required gear, e.g. cameras, full batteries, lights, accessories, cameras, lenses, memory cards, etc. for the day of the shoot.

After the shoot, I first develop my pictures in Camera Raw followed by processing in Photoshop. I don’t use filters, but only adjust everything manually and to my personal taste.

What is your most important advice to a beginner in Portrait or Conceptual Photography and how do you get started?
My 1st advice is to stay with your photography close to yourself, as it will also tell something about you. My 2nd advice is not to simply register what happens around you, but indulge yourself into the setting or scene. In this way, you will discover different ways to portray and create a unique signature for your work. That will give you fulfillment, happiness and inspiration to keep on exploring: new techniques, different composition, out-of-the-box images.

Who are your favorite photographers and more importantly, how has your appreciation of their work affected how the approach to your own photography?  
I do not have a favorite photographer, nor a preference in styles or themes. There are simply too many who are so good and interesting. If I have to name a few: James Nachtwey, Henri Cartier-Bresson, William Klein, Martin Parr, Edward Burtynsky, Vivian Mayer, Yousef Karsh, Richard Avedon, Guy Bourdin, Steve McCurry, Todd Hido, Teun Hocks, Annie Leibovitz, Roger Ballen, Loretta Lux, Michel Szulc Krzyzanowski, Joel Meyerowitz, Robert Frank, Gregory Crewdson, Cindy Sherman, Kirsty Mitchell, Alexa Meade.

In any case, I cannot really tell to what extend these men or women have influenced me. At the moment, I just love to create my own images generating personal happiness.

Is there any specific photo taken by another photographer that has inspired you a lot and why? 
There is one artist who inspired me for the scar project, named: ‘Coloured imperfection’. His name is Ted Meyer and I was moved by this work.

You can find more information on my scar project here
and on my website

Are there any specific directions that you would like to take your photography to in the future or any specific goals that you wish to achieve?

I am considering men as model for my photography, but I’m not yet clear on how to create the images with men. Till now, I have mainly photographed women and it is always refreshing to change in order to grow and accelerate your personal learning. We simply all need challenges to remain alert and sharp.

Describe your favorite photograph taken by you and why it is special to you? 
My favorite photographs are the ones where I created the images myself, i.e. staged the setting (background), poses of the model, etc. Hence, those photographs where I have not simply registered are my favorites.

Is there anything else you wish to add and what do you think about 1x.
I was made aware of the website “1X“ by Frank Peters, a fellow citizen of Dordrecht. I met Frank at the local TV station where Frank worked and I was a volunteer for a short while. I really liked the quality on this site from day one and joined.  When my 1st picture “Dutch Gothic” was published, I was so happy and proud. 



Join Our Insider List

By joining you agree to our terms and privacy

Next page