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Photographer

Johannes van Kan

On being passionate about photography…

Photography gives me wings. I can make people feel good about themselves. I get to bring out my inner entertainer. I get to express myself. With photography I get to become a choreographer, artist, and psychologist. But most of all, through photography I will exist beyond my death.

On the beginning …

It all started 30 years ago with a trip to a dark room …. that is where the magic began.

On what I bring to my photographic style…

Empathy, experience, and a sense of irony.

On one discipline that has contributes to my success…

I was a scientist fighting to be an artist. Really I wanted to be an alchemist. It is the quest for alchemy that brings my work to the next level.

On a great way to unwind…

For me, a Hazy IPA is a good start …. Actually I have an amazing garden that gives me peace. The ability to grow and nurture plants is my inner peace. The garden is so much bigger than me, it grounds me.

On advice for someone starting out in photography…

Know how to be happy. Share that happiness with the people you photograph.

On finding inspiration…

I try to be inspired by the people I photograph – their achievements, their happiness or sadness, their stories; their individuality.

On an inspiring film or piece of music…

Blue, White, and Red - a trilogy of movies. Three colours– obscure, but interlinked. Wish You Were Here is an outstanding album that had a narrative almost outdone by the very clever cover artwork by Hipgnosis.

On the value of living in New Zealand…

I live here because it allows opportunities for growth that are not as available in many other countries. I live in Christchurch. It's a goldilocks city. Not too big. Not too small. Not too hot, not too cold. It has beaches and mountains (not too far away). I live in a valley that is private, quiet, and almost invisible. It is twelve minutes from the centre of town and surrounded by bush and native birds.

On why New Zealand is a great place to raise children…

Our daughter is 11. We love having access to a country that has so much natural beauty that we can share with her. We love that it is a healthy country for her, and us. We love that we have nature’s diversity within such easy reach. And we love the feeling of being relatively safe.

On what is a big life lesson…

Slow down. It’s too easy to get dragged into a world of needs and musts. Having the things that you want doesn’t always make you happy. We had an expensive house in the city that was full of needs and musts, but it didn’t make us happy, and owning it became so stressful that we stopped having fun. 

On someone who has had a significant impact on my life…

My good friend Ric showed me how to enjoy photography and how a photographer impacts the outcome of the imagery. I’m not talking about imagination, style, and technical skill, but about how the energy of a photographer affects the outcome. It’s a strange lesson, but very true. 

On being grateful…

I am grateful to be exposed to so many different lives through my work because I am otherwise shy, and it wouldn’t have chance to happen.

On why I decided to support Great Full’s bum huggers project…

Serendipity. I had read about the life benefits of 'giving back' on the morning that I was told about this project. It seemed like too much of a coincidence when the phone-call from Great Full came.