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Hans Withoos' career spans over twenty years, a period during which he has combined his commissioned, professional and more personal work. After studying at the Academy of Arts, he set up with his partner, Jolanda Cats, a company specializing in fashion, photography and advertising video. Their clients range from large corporate to non-profit organizations. Although highly recognized internationally for his commercial work, he is also prolific in his more independent and personal work, producing numerous series over the years, mostly set in places and cities steeped in romance and recognizable in the whole world.


Hans' photography sits between the world of abundance and artifice, like the scent of decadence on a starry night, a world both familiar and different. In Hans' exaggerated scenes, figures crowd together and images become archetypes, while the viewer is overwhelmed by a sense of alienation. The work is multi-layered, staged by idiosyncratic aesthetics. Sometimes his photographs evoke emotions related to suffering, sensuality and hidden oppression, other times the images show the opposite and are deliberately unemotional. His scenes seem frozen, implacable as if the photographer himself no longer captured the snapshot, but the soul and all the human dimension of his characters. And by that very fact, these protagonists become inanimate objects, petrified figures, lulled by light and nothingness.


Hans is a narrator. Sometimes the story is already carefully crafted, but often it grows, it grows as an independent entity, like an organism. Most of these stories have romantic gilding, but behind that facade there is a grittier theme. His images are not criticism of anything, but rather an observatory, where it is up to the viewer to make their own interpretation.


What inspires you in the male body?

The male body has so much to say and reveal. He can be vulnerable, sometimes powerful and strong, but sometimes weak and vicious. And that inspires me in each of these inclinations. I like all kinds of male bodies by the way. If I see a man;s body, I will look for this sensual and singular story about this body, what this body will be able to tell me and tell me. For me its not about muscles, athletes and just physical beauty. I think all men are attractive in some way. And in my images I try to show that. Each male body tells its own story.


What is the difference for you between a male and female model?

When I shoot, I realize that my male models all have diverse and varied emotions that are often linked to sexuality. Unlike female models who can have a range of different emotions, but they do not necessarily show sexuality. In my work, you see male nudity quite frequently.


How do you choose your shooting locations?

Sometimes I choose the places, sometimes they choose me. I have many memories of beautiful places, when I see one I pin it on a digital map on my PC. Sometimes when I travel its the places that choose me in the sense that some places want to tell their own story, so I do the same. On the other hand, if a fashion shoot requires a special theme with a special location, I look for the right place. All places can surprise me and usually they give off many possibilities. I also try to use the elements that the place has to offer me. In the photo Hotel de Nice (page 61) the idea was a vulnerable, miserable guy who gets out of hand after a failed date. And then I saw this cross nailed to the wall and immediately this guy was no longer a pagan symbol but a representation of Jesus. I love putting many hidden elements in each of my images. So: the place makes the image.

- Find the continuation of Hans Withoos in Normal Magazine n°4 and n°7-

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