Please introduce yourself: What is your name, where are you from, what do you do?
My name is Jan Halle. I was born in Denmark, but currently live in Singapore. I recently moved here after living in Japan for a number of years. I work as a freelance photographer.
What is your relationship with photography? How did you get into it and what keeps you interested or motivated?
I became interested in photography in my teenage years through cinema. I watched and read a lot about film and film-making, and probably had a dream of becoming a director or cinematographer. I especially liked European cinema, particularly German, French and Italian directors such as Fassbinder, Herzog, Wenders,Truffaut, Antonioni, Fellini and The Taviani brothers to name a few. From that I developed an interest in still photography and when I went traveling in Southeast Asia in my early twenties I brought a camera to record the journey. I was initially mostly interested in black and white photography, especially documentary and landscape photography, and did some workshops where I learned to develop and print my own film in the darkroom.
I subsequently went to the UK and did a photography degree at the University of Derby. While at University my interest shifted from more traditional b/w landscape photography towards the subject matter of architecture and urban landscape color photography, drawing inspiration from a diverse range of contemporary photography, such as the documentary work of Paul Graham and Paul Seawright, Dusseldorf School photographers like Thomas Struth, Candida Hofer and Axel Hutte, and of course from famous American color photographers such as Eggleston, Shore and Meyerowitz. I continue to be inspired by the work I encountered as a student and I still use it as a reference point in my own practice.
After graduating I moved to Japan and found it difficult to make a living from photography, so I began working as a teacher to support myself and my family. I actually made very few images for a number of years although I did show my work in exhibitions around Tokyo and in the US. However, it wasn't until I got my hands on an iPhone and embraced the whole internet and social media thing that I really started to make work again.Using the iPhone was like using a polaroid camera again and I loved the immediacy of it as photographic tool.
I was always on the move going to different places and neighborhoods in Tokyo for work and it was easy to carry the phone with me. It really motivated me to go out and explore the urban landscape of Tokyo and to photograph the things I encountered on my way. I honestly have a love/hate relationship with Tokyo, but I feel that to walk and photograph in Tokyo enabled me to connect with the city on a completely different level than I had ever experienced before. In a sense it was a question of survival and I was making it my city in the process.
Over time I started to use a regular digital camera for technical reasons and I now mostly use the smartphone for visual note-taking. During this time I stumbled across Instagram and started using the platform to share my work and enjoy the great work by other artists and photographers. Fundamentally what draws me to photography is the immediacy of the camera which, especially now in the digital age, enables me to capture an emotion or thought with a certain amount of precision, and in a very short time share that moment as unfiltered as possible.
What are you currently working on, and — if there is — what is your next project or journey?
Regarding current projects I am still in the process of getting acquainted with the Singapore, so I am trying out different angles. However since it is basically a city state there is plenty of subjects to explore for an urban photographer. We shall see! I also have an unfinished project in Tokyo, which I hope to return to occasionally. In addition I am planning to start offering limited edition prints of my work in the near future and more long term I am planning to possibly self publish a book of some of my Tokyo related images.
Thank you Jan!
© Jan Halle