There is a basic difference between ‘taking pictures’ and ‘being a photographer’. But Palle Hansen stylishly blends beauty, fashion and glamour into a modern exploration of sensuality and classic sex appeal.
Though a world traveler, the UK based Palle Hansen is foremost a 360 degree fashion photographer, who has been continuously pushing the envelope (sometimes beyond the limit) to transform ideas into reality. This is because he dreams, lives, imagines, sees, creates, transgresses, provokes, amazes. For him fashion photography is all about creating excitement, and how much he enjoys his life easily shows in his work.
As a fashion photographer, what is your main focus when undertaking an assignment: the model, the fashion aspect or the technical finesse in the portrait. What would be your approach to the situation and why?
The fashion aspect should always take priority over the model and the technical finesse. When you are undertaking an assignment, it comes with a brief of what the client wants. For instance, if you are independently working on an idea that has to be submitted to a fashion magazine, print or online, the same principle will be implemented. The idea needs to be right for having any chance of success, and that is very often the hard part. When the idea or brief is final, only then can you start thinking about the clothing and model etc. The technical finesse comes while you are doing the actual shoot, and depends very much on what you are trying to achieve, and on where and what you as shooting, as it could give you more or less possibilities depending on the scene.
Do you only shoot fashion? Secondly, what attracts you to it?
Yes, for now I only do fashion shoots. However, I do get lots of offers from various models etc. Since, I am about to open a brand new studio in Central London (www.phstudio.co.uk), I would like for other photographer to take up jobs there. The attraction for shooting fashion is the whole idea of creating something amazing, outstanding, extraordinary, and potentially iconic. The possibilities in the fashion world seems endless, as there is always something exciting and unexpected involved in this industry. Fashion photography is about creating excitement, as well as realizing dreams and aspirations.
How do you approach a fashion photo shoot? Do you have any favorite technique. In your opinion what makes for a successful shoot?
If the shoot is for a client, they make it clear about what they expect to get out of it. I have shot for a few clothing designers, as well as jewelery designers. Their objective is very clear. It is to generate sales, and of course showcase their products. If it is a fashion shoot for my book, then the procedure tends to be different. I usually discuss the ideas with my excellent make-up artist, Anika Chauhan (www.anikachauhan.com). Together, we decide on a theme or idea. Once that is finalized, everything else starts to fall into place. We discuss the other details such as outfits, locations etc. that we would prefer, as well as which models would be fitting as per our specific ideas. A successful shoot can only be achieved with proper planning and an efficient team around you. It is therefore massively important to work with the best people you can find, in terms of the make-up artist, hairstylist, clothing stylist, as well as the best model for the specific shoot. When the shoot is happening, the most important factor is to make the model feel relaxed and special. I do that by indulging in small talk. I make sure I compliment the models for whatever they do. To make the model feel like she is the most beautiful girl in the world gives you much better pictures in general.
Where do you find inspiration to keep your photography creative and unique in itself?
Inspiration comes from lots of different sources. I enjoy studying the work of the great photographers of the world, such as Steven Meisel, Patrick Demarchelier, Mario Testino, Helmut Newton etc. But I am also inspired by new trends, new designers, and fashion in general. A lot of magazines often have a theme where photographers can send in pictures, and that is where the inspiration becomes crucial as it is your basic idea which determines whether you get into the specific magazine or not. It does not depend on the model, or the outfits. The only thing they are interested in is your creativity and your originality. I always find such submissions very interesting and highly inspirational as you never really know if you hit the spot with the people who judge it.
Do you believe beauty is the ultimate creation of universal love and if so, do beautiful women inspire you to make beautiful portraits? Comment
I am not quite sure how to understand this question, is it in a religious context? Beauty does inspire me to create beautiful images. Honestly, I find it harder to work, if I do not personally find the model attractive. Having said that, beauty is not just an outside issue, beauty shows in the eyes of the model as well. If you have smiling eyes, you know it is going to make for good pictures as it shows she enjoys being the centre of the shoot. However, the most important issue for a model is to be able to work with various facial expressions and poses. The better the model knows how to use it, the better the pictures you get.
What equipment do you use? Is there a personal preference, or one that makes your professional role easier?
I have just upgraded to a Canon 5D MKII which is a step up from my previous camera, which was the Canon 5D. I only use two lenses; a Sigma 24 – 70mm F2.8, but I mainly shoot with the Canon 70 – 200 F2.8. The latter is an amazing lens, and gives nice and sharp pictures. As for lighting, until recently I used to work with the Bowens Esprit 500w. I had 4 heads, a beautydish, some reflectors etc. However, I have replaced all my Bowens kit with Profoto, and my studio now has 6 Profoto monoblock heads, a Giant reflector, a battery pack, a range of softboxes and reflectors. Retouching, of course is done in Photoshop. But I do tend to send my pictures to a professional retoucher as my skills in Photoshop are not as good as desired, and I also believe that my talent lies in taking the pictures, rather than doing the retouching.
What qualifies as your dream location to shoot the perfect fashion shoot, and why?
Dream location is a hard one, there are lots of lovely places in the world and I have managed to visit only a few. Cape Town is a great place to shoot, because of the amazing houses offering sea view. The Caribbean would of course be the ideal location for beach shots, since the color of the water, and the perfect white sand makes it amazing in its own right. I am shooting in Denmark soon, at a location that looks remarkably like a desert, but actually is one big beach. I also would like to do a shoot at the Greek Island of Santorini where all the beautiful white houses would provide a perfect backdrop for gorgeous pictures. The perfect location depends a lot on the theme as well. One of the best examples recently was the very relevant feature by Steven Meisel for Vogue Italia named “Oil and Water”, which of course referred to the huge oil spill on the coast line of America.
Visit www.pallehansen.com for more of Palle’s work.