Interview with Paul Hoelen | GBPW Episode 80
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In this episode, I have an inspiring conversation with the talented Paul Hoelen. Paul specialises in a variety of genres, but he’s famous for his stunning aerial
photographyproject called Men With Heart, which explores the definition of healthy masculinity in Australia
- How his role as a
photographyjudge has affected his own work
- The reason he started taking aerial photos (and what that experience has been like)
& much more!
Paul shares a lot of eye-opening stories about conservation, aerial
Here is a preview of our conversation with Paul Hoelen.
Q: Do you have any advice for photographers who want to get better at respectfully taking photos that tell a meaningful story?
Paul Hoelen: Generally, I don’t reveal locations, particularly when it comes to areas that are sensitive or that I know people will visit if they knew how to get there. That’s an issue with social media that comes up a lot.
Another aspect of respect is understanding, actually researching, and getting permission to photograph certain areas. Culturally, a lot of areas in Australia are very sensitive and sacred. It’s not okay to go there or to photograph them, even from the air. A lot of photographers would not make the effort or even have the understanding or respect to even research that.
Q: How has being a
photography judge affected your own work?
Paul Hoelen: Quite immensely, to be honest. I grew up very independent of any influences apart from my life experience in general, so I wasn’t really aware of much work out there.
The initial relationship with
That’s been a really big part of my life the last 12 years. I have done a lot of judging and I’ve done a lot of training. I remember getting asked to judge the New Zealand awards for the first time. It was a panel with four Grandmasters. There were about 12 of them in the world, or at least in New Zealand, in 50 years. Basically, they’re the top of the tops!
You weren’t allowed to repeat anything that had been said by another judge on the panel. I repeatedly kept getting put in a position where I was the fifth person to speak! Collectively, these people had about 150 years of photographic experience that had already spoken to all the image. And there I was, trying to come up with something new or innovative or insightful. It was one of the hardest situations I’ve ever been in.
Ultimately, it one of the most amazing experiences because I found that being put in that position – and it’s live – I surprised myself hugely with what resource I found within myself. The visual literacy, the conceptual understanding, and the narrative understanding really pushed me to look deeper under the surface and beyond, think about art references, connect the dots of other aspects of the image, and not get caught up in just the technical stuff.
An extended gallery of aerial work
Men With Heart
Originally born in New Zealand to a Dutch Sailor and an American Nun, Paul Hoelen has managed to put his four passports to excellent use before eventually settling on the beautiful, wild island of Tasmania.
Self taught, travel hungry and with a healthy thirst to grow as an image-maker he thrives on the challenge and freshness of shooting a wide diversity of genres, ranging from fine art nudes, landscapes, and large-scale event
Paul is a Master of