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.