“I have the need to investigate and tell documentary storys. Photography is the best medium for me to do that.”
Daan Paans (born in 1985) is a Dutch photographer. He’s currently based in Utrecht, Netherlands. Daan Paans studied photography at the “Academy of Arts St. Joost” in Breda (Netherlands).
Daan Paans is a documentary photographer. In his work he investigates the concept of time: He is interested in how time – the past and the future – shapes our interpretation of the world. His long-term projects are about a major human flaw: the incapacity to understand and control time and time span. Investigating this phenomenon he links stories that on the first sight do not seem to have a connection. Besides his own photos Daan uses archive material and text to tell his documentary stories.
Interview with Daan Paans
Daan, what was your first camera and photographic experience?
My first camera was an Olympus OM10. My father gave it to me, and here I am.
Why did you become a photographer?
Because I have the need to investigate and tell documentary storys. Photography is the best medium for me to do that.
What does photography mean to you?
Quite a lot. It’s a way to investigate stories that I stumble upon. Because of photography, I had the chance to give my own perspective on those stories.
Which photographer has inspired you most and why?
1: Joel Sternfeld – because of his esthetics, and slow way of working with a large format camera.
2: Taryn Simon – because of her subjects.
“No individual photo explains anything. That’s what makes photography such a wonderful and problematic medium. It is the photographer’s job to get this medium to say what you need it to say. Because photography has a certain verisimilitude, it has gained a currency as truthful – but photographs have always been convincing lies.”
How would you describe your photographic style and creative process?
I work on long-term documentary projects. I actually do 90% of my research at home-via internet and libraries. There is not any coincidence in my work. I combine research files and text with my photos to tell my stories.
What’s important in order to develop an own photographic style and how did you achieve it?
In the first place: I think your story or subject is way more important then your style. I cannot say whats important to develop your own style. I was attracted to the idea of being as objective as possible in your images. Therefore I started to make very static work with a slow camera. So my form follows its function I would say.
What qualities does a good photographer need?
Where do you draw inspiration from for your photographic projects?
Philosophy and history.
What kind of photography equipment and photographic supplies do you use?
Toyo 4×5 Field camera.
What’s your favorite website on photography?
A blog called “Mrs. Dean, nothing is too amazing to be true”: www.beikey.net/mrs-deane.
What book on photography would you recommend?
“An American Index” by US-photographer Taryn Simon.
Which advice would you give someone who wants to become a professional photographer?
Depends on the person: I guess I first would ask for his or her expectations and then give a view on the reality.