Persona August, 13th 2020 by

World Fine Art Professionals and their Key-Pieces, 276 - Chris Hoefsmit

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World Fine Art Professionals and their Key-Pieces, 276 – Chris Hoefsmit
Chris Hoefsmit is a well-known Haarlem photographer. It is in the genes of the family. Father Hoefsmit was a photographer and son Jurriaan also turned it into a profession. After a ride in Hoefsmit’s car from Heemstede-Aerdenhout station – where Hoefsmit made a small reportage earlier in the day – I am sitting in the living / working room in a beautiful Haarlem neighborhood.
Large photos against the wall on the floor, including of the fashion designer Monique Collignon, and above that a large Bally Poster, made by Villemot, in which a woman in a polka dot dress holds up a ball – in which we can recognize the earth – backwards with her stiletto heel shoe. On the other side, on the right a large collage of family photos, both in color and black and white, compiled by son Jurriaan. And high up the wall near the veranda upper window large photo books by / about famous photographers such as Erwin Blumenfeld and David Bailey.

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Emulsion on glass plates
On the round table where we are going to sit, a large stack of photo books, all by Hoefsmit, and also sheets with his photos and LP’s Hoefsmit starts his story. “It started on my 14th / 15th. I was on the Mulo (secondary education), but I was completely tired of that. I didn’t find it interesting anymore. What I found interesting was photography. My father was a photographer, he started doing this when he was 14 at the Spaarnestad publishing / printing house. ”
It was a different time then, also in terms of photography. Father Hoefsmit made his photos there on glass plates with emulsion negatives. “He poured the emulsion onto the plate himself. Later he became an independent photographer and made wedding photography. When you got married in Haarlem you went to see him for photography. He also did portrait photography and passport photos. ”

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Bridal photography
He shows me examples of classic wedding photography. The young woman who is hoisted in her parents’ bedroom – by her mother – in her wedding dress, the groom who rings the bell at the front door with a bunch of flowers in hand, the scenes in the park with bridesmaid / boy and the tree along which the new couple looks cheerfully and confidently at a new life and of course: the kiss.
Chris worked for his father for ten years, then it was time for something else. “I knew an artist in Beverwijk who also photographed, René van der Meulen. When he did a wedding reportage, he did it very differently. He tackled it as an artist. He completely ignored the classic rules. He captured the bridal couple in unusual locations such as garages and junkyards. He was very inspiring to me. I started to think more creatively. ”

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Ferry Tromp
Bridal photography, however, had had its longest time for Chris. When he had made a successful wedding report of the sister of a schoolmate, Ferry Tromp, the last one suggested ‘Shouldn’t we be making a book about wedding photography?’. That book, ‘Forty years of marriage in the Netherlands, the most beautiful day’, was published, with text by Tromp and photos by Hoefsmit. He had already published a first booklet, ‘Onderschrift’ (Caption), in which he made up suitable photos for poems. “It had something funny, something artistic.” A little later, he also made ’49 denkbeelden’ (49 ideas) with Tromp. He shows me the book, with a gorilla on the front cover.
Tromp, who worked for TeleVizier, among others, asked him ‘Don’t you want to take pictures for TeleVizier? TeleVizier was a weekly magazine that included the AVRO-bode (tv-guide), but it was larger in size and had many other articles that made it a weekly magazine. In the late 1970s it had a circulation of one million copies. He liked that. “I came to all kinds of people via TeleVizier. Jan Akkerman, the guitarist, Willem van Hanegem, Jos Brink, André van Duin.” He went there with his Hasselblad and a Leica.

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Not one kind of photography
He took over his father’s studio, Bridal photo studio Riejo (named after Rie, father’s first girlfriend and father himself, Joop) on Rijksstraatweg. Occasionally he made a wedding report. “I had the idea: in three years only advertising photography. And not one kind of photography, please all. ”
Via via he came to Joop van den Ende, whose empire was still under construction at the time. “He started with parties and festivities. Only later did he start making television programs for the KRO and then his own channels, with his own TV star group, including Van Duin and Henny Huisman. I took pictures of the entire cast.” Then he met Cor van Meteren. “I had made a wedding reportage of him and his wife. I did not know him in advance. He was full of praise for that report. A photo of his wife was to be seen in the shop window. That’s how he became a good customer. He had his own advertising BV, Maco, among other things he made record covers for RCA. He asked if I wanted to take pictures for those covers. I loved that.” He shows a number of covers: ‘Romance’, ‘Merry Christmas’, ‘Elvis Presley’, ‘famous atmospheric music’, ‘Vive La France’, ‘Aerobic Dancing’, ‘Aerobic School’. On that last LP we see the Aerobic dancers printed from above on the whole plate, including the middle circle. “I hated the arrival of the CD because it was so small.”

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More themes and new contacts
More themes and new contacts were added. He left his father’s old studio and moved into a new, large studio in the Waarderpolder. Architecture was added, landscapes, cars, fashion with the M&S company. “For the latter company, I went on media trips in other countries, in summer in La Palma, in winter in Switzerland. In Switzerland, because I had bought a Sinar camera, I also took a Sinar course on the technical aspects of that camera.” For the 50 Plus magazine he photographed famous Dutch people such as André van Duin and Wim de Bie (also a youth hero), with whom he came home and talked about all sorts of things. For the Postbank he took a model to Arnhem, and made a photo of the opening of the very first ATM, for the pill company VSM he went to Barrow, at the very top of Alaska. He recorded Ruben Nicolai, the comedian and television presenter, in Studio 21 in Hilversum. “A commercial was also made for Suzuki. Those guys had their cameras in the air. When they were done I still had to take my picture. I also had to go up and looked for a ladder. ‘Ho, ho’, I had to beg, ‘ stand still for a little while’. The photo was published full page. A company director said, ‘I’ve never experienced that, a nationwide campaign photographed in three minutes.’ It’s also dexterity you get, you have to see it. You have to get ahead of things. If I had all had to ask, I wouldn’t have half photographed what I did. ”

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Roel Pieper
There were many journalistic productions for large companies: KPMG, RABO, Tata Steel, ING, Lumiance (armatures). “Often interviews with the directors, where I got five minutes for the photo. I had to photograph Roel Pieper for Philips. ‘The light is wrong’, he said. ‘Leave that to me’, was my response. I shot a few photos and Pieper said ‘Now it’s done. I’m going.’ I shot on as he got up and walked away. That eventually became the photo.” He went out of the building in Utrecht with Piet Moerland, RABO. Moerland compared the RABO building with the large building that had come next to it. ‘Ridiculous such a building, why built such a big building? The old functioned fine’, said Moerland. Hoefsmit: “I hear that more as an aside. Elco Brinkman after the photography and the interview: ‘It is all empty talk’.”

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Cities / provincies books
After 2000, the number of photo books increases considerably. He captures entire cities, Amsterdam, Haarlem and Heemstede, and the province of North Holland. “I have sold 45,000 books in total. I usually start making such a book in November to have it ready by November next year. Everything in-house. Only the Amsterdam book has been published by Meulenhoff, this in connection with distribution also in Belgium.
The ‘Haarlemboek’, with photos from all neighborhoods of Haarlem and the basilica Sint Bavo on the front cover, contains no less than 10,000 photos. “An area of 13 km2. In order to realize it, photos of entrepreneurs have been placed in between. They find that interesting and would like to have the book. Most bought 100 books, received a 40 percent bookstore discount. It was a support for me to have it printed. I would also like to pass this on to others: try to have your money in advance in order to have it printed and then spend it. ”
‘Bosch & Vaart 1901-2001’ is a kind of document. “It is about the entire Bosch & Vaart district in Heemstede, my district, with all (more than 600) houses in a row. It is one of my first digital projects. At the top you see the houses, taken from a staircase, which I later placed next to each other. At the bottom details about the street and the families in front of the door. That will be special in 40 years. Everything has then changed. Three years ago I published a book about Heemstede, ‘The Heemstede Book’ with all 375 streets. At the top the most special parts of the street and below that details and the people who live there, including Mrs. Van Muiswinkel, who ordered 10 books. ”
He made ‘Het Amsterdamboek’ with five people. “We have divided the map of Amsterdam into pieces. It was the year of the World Cup with the Orange team, they came second, but the people sat on the canal quays cheering the team. That is also to be seen there. ”
In the book ‘Op Zoek Naar Het Wezen Van Noord-Holland’ (In Search of the Essence of North Holland) each of the 407 villages of North Holland is captured with a landscape photo. “We have worked a lot with the designer Johans Wiegel. He had special photographic ideas. ”

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Negatives wedding photos
Three years ago, Hoefsmit made all the negatives of the eighteen thousand wedding photos that he and his father took available to interested parties. “When we announced that, the phone didn’t stop ringing. Everyone was so happy. Sometimes there had been a fire and the photos had gone, sometimes they were arguing, and the groom had been cut off the photo. They could take them for a bottle of wine or something else. Some came with a bottle of two euros, others with a bottle of 150 euro. 6/700 people came by. ”
Willy Wartaal
More can be mentioned, we will briefly mention a few items, the 75 Haarlem shopkeepers who came with a black and white photo in the newspaper, the Haarlems Dagblad, and of which a book has also been published, the food photos for La Cucina Italiana, a day with Willy Wartaal in Amsterdam, the photo of Jagtlust for the book of the same name by Annejet van der Zijl, the pianist Mariette Petkova, the photo for the front cover of the annual youth thriller by Mel Wallis de Vries, the new book about the Bavo on the Grote Markt that is coming. “A serious book, with text by 20 journalists. And pictures of me and my son Jurriaan. 600 pages is planned. And next to that a smaller book, of 120 pages with only pictures of the old Bavo.”

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My work was no work
It is time for a conclusion. What is his philosophy? Hoefsmit: “Photography is looking, light, paying attention. With a group of students I did not stop at the Grote Markt in Haarlem, but went on to the parking garage. Parking garage? you saw them think. But right there I show them unexpected things and I let them look differently. And if you put people on a photo: they are often nervous for a photo. I’m not going to photograph them immediately, I’m going to chat, just like Anton Corbijn with Herman Brood, who after a while said to him ‘Oh yes, take another picture’.
Many people take photographs and make an effort to master the profession. I don’t think my profession is work. Life is one big vacation for me. ”
1) Portrait, 2) Beemster cheese,, 3) getting married, 4) HEMA, aerobic dance, 5) Audi Elena Studio, 6) fashion, Monique Collignon, 7) Nestle, 8) Generations, 9) Wim de Bie, 10) Drukkersweg studio (with Chris Hoefsmit)

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