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 William Jans

  Worlds apart

 © William Jans
Photo of William Jans Williams Jans is a photographer of two worlds - both literally and figuratively. One of those is the creatively demanding and pressure filled world of corporate photography, where he makes his living from his Vancouver studio. The other is an ocean away, in Asia, where Jans pursues his personal passion for travel photography in exotic destinations such as Thailand, Laos and, most recently, India and Tibet.

While one is his main source of income and the other a personal interest, Jans makes it clear that they are both 'work'. "I get a little perplexed when a friend asks me how my 'holiday' was, when I have just got back from lugging 80 lbs of camera and living gear through some very rugged country and working hard to get unique images," he laughs. "Even though it is for my personal enrichment, I do take it very seriously. I often have to make sacrifices to get the images I want. For example, I travel with a minimal amount of clothing and personal items so that I can carry as much camera equipment as possible."

'monks' by William Jans

In fact, he takes it seriously enough that he has spun his travel shots into a number of successful multimedia shows, including Trekking in Tibet, a lively chronicle of his latest journey. While Jans notes that the shows are a "labour of love" and that he does not view them as a money making venture, the shows have played to critical acclaim and audiences that have exceeded 800 people on more than one occasion.

"They are much more than simple slide shows," notes Jans, explaining why he feels the shows are successful. "I try to make it different from any travel show the audience has ever seen. I include video clips, animation, sound bytes and even a costume change or two."

'splash' by William Jans

At the core of each show, however, are Jans' provocative, humourous and insightful images, shot primarily on Kodak Ektachrome film. "Whenever I travel, Kodak slide film is the only film I take along. I am limited in the amount of film I can carry, and I often get only one chance at a shot. I need film I can totally rely on for colour, resolution and sharpness. There's no room for mistakes."

Jans also relies on Kodak Ektachrome film for a lot of his corporate work, which includes annual reports, celebrity portraits, ad campaigns and other assignments for clients such as ICNC, the Vancouver Port Authority and Vancouver's CityTV. A 19-year veteran of the Vancouver corporate photography scene, Jans has also built an international clientele, shooting locally for clients in New York, the Philippines and elsewhere.

His approach to photography varies to suit the specific demands of the assignment. But one common element he strives for -- especially when shooting people -- is to "engage everyone as much as possible in the process."

'splash' by William Jans

"I honestly believe that the better mood the subjects and creative people are in, the better results I will get," he explains.

Jans' ability to put people at ease has also paid dividends in his travel photography. "Once you gain the trust, or even the first spark of friendship, with someone, they are much more open to being photographed," Jans notes. "That makes them more expressive and honest."

As to the differences between shooting the hustle and bustle of the corporate world and the serenity of a Himalayan village, Jans insists it is mainly in the amount of equipment. "When I go on location for a corporate or advertising shoot, I take along every piece of equipment, every lens and accessory, different films… everything I can," he laughs. "I literally take a car load of stuff. But when I travel, I have to be a minimalist. On the lower slopes of Everest I was restricted to 28 lbs of camera gear, which I carried along with the rest of my stuff. But you learn to get the most from what you have."

Whether loaded down, or working with the basics, William Jans continues to deliver images that please both his corporate clients and the curious public.

Pro Photographer / Lab


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