Hear It!
An Interview with Frenk and Danielle Kaufmann

When two become one, DNF-Style is what you get. Based in Netherlands, Frenk and Danielle Kaufmann, the masterminds behind the many astonishing images that speak style share with us the secret of their success in this issue of Hear It!

Photographers: Frenk and Danielle Kaufmann
Country of Origin: Netherlands

1. Production Equipment: Please list the production equipment that you use on a regular basis (eg. Cameras, lenses, flash & lighting, photo editing software).
  • Canon 30 D
  • Canon 5 D
  • 50 mm 1.8 , 28-70 2.8 L USM IS, 70-200 2.8 L USM
  • Flashes by Beam and Falconeyes

2. What do you think of photography these days?
The market is being overflooded with people with sufficient money to buy themselves good equipment. Because of that everybody feels like he/she is/can be a photographer. This market has to stabilize itself. But at this moment the market is in such big movements that we can't do anything but wait where it will lead us to.

3. What did you want to be when you were younger?
Danielle: I wanted to open my own hotel, but it never happened.
Frenk: I just wanted to live. I was a good student but hated to study so I started working early trying to find my place in this world. I recently got laid off after 8 years of being an IT-manager and finally I am pursuing my dream of becoming a pro photographer.

4. Tell us about the time when you first got started in photography.
It was difficult. No money for a proper education forced us into being self-learning. So we had to shoot as much as we could and make as many mistakes as possible to be able to learn our lessons from it. Any mistake is good as long as you don't make it twice.

In this period you are working with models that have the same experience level as you with your photography. This means you also encounter models that do not see the importance of things as you do. So they do not always follow up on the agreements leaving you and your make-up artist waiting for them not to show up. Those times are hard and make you want to quit.

These are the times you'll have to endure in order to become more confident and aware of your goals.

5. In your opinion, what does it take to become successful in this industry?
Two options I guess:

1. Is to become good in what everybody else does and then become better than the rest, making sure people notice your work. And for that to happen, you'll have to build up your network starting off from the first photo you make. Be seen, be heard and hopefully in the end, be wanted.

2. Is to become different from the rest. Make sure you are noticed through your point of view, being different from the general point of view. This is the hardest way since you will get laughed at. People have a tendency of hating what they don't understand. But if you stay honest towards yourself and the work you produce, you will come out a winner in the end being able to give them all a big, "I told you so".

6. What was your biggest challenge coming into this industry?
To produce pictures that go past beyond “just beautiful”. Being able to produce images that make people look longer at, make people think and wonder. To get noticed by others and finally to get acknowledged for your views.

Danielle's biggest goal is to get a publication in Vogue magazine.
Frenk's biggest challenge is to get one of his files being bought by a museum.

7. What are the best perks as a Photographer?
The feeling that someone comes to your studio with zero knowledge of how to be a model but leaves feeling like a real top model in the making. We put a lot of effort in learning our 'models' to be 'models' without losing their real selves. We manage to do this 95% of the time.

8. How do you plan for your shooting sessions?
We used to plan them on weekends, spare free days of work and using our evenings for retouching work. Now Frenk is building up DNF-Style as a company. We always plan our shootings around a model. The looks and behavior of the model makes us decide which road to take.

It is always an interaction between model, photographer and, very important, the make-up artist. Because we mostly work on TFP basis, we need to make sure that every involved party gets his/her feeling towards a shoot translated into photos.

9. How would you describe your work to first time viewers?
As broad as model photography can be. Due to the fact that we are two photographers working as one, we are able to set a wide view towards model photography. Where Danielle is mostly focused on fashion and beauty portraits, Frenk dabbles in character treats and feel.

10. Do you shoot to what your heart tells you or do you go through a complex check list in your mind when you produce your work? Describe the feeling/check list.
As soon as we shoot using a check list, we need to get paid for what we do. No one tells us what they want from us unless there is money on the table. If this is not the case we work by heart and mind only. If you lose this, then you might as well stop photography. Since photography to us is art, craftsmanship is just a way of being able to master the art.

11. From your experience, what subjects gives you the greatest satisfaction? Any examples?
Since we are focused on people, the answer is simple. The satisfaction we get from our work are:

1. Seeing people changing from ugly ducklings (Editor: Wow, really?!) to glamorous models.
2. Seeing our photos being used by designers.

12. From your experience, what subjects are the hardest to work with? Any examples?
Children are very difficult. You have a very limited amount of time in which you can keep them focused on the shoot. Also, people that feel bad about themselves are very hard to work with, but gives you a lot of satisfaction if you break their views and make them feel beautiful.

13. What is your philosophy when it comes to your work?
Keep it simple but make it different. Do not run away from challenges.

14. Describe who/what inspires you, tell us why?
Our biggest inspiration comes from those that are able to make a living out of photography. They master the way of marketing their photos in such a way that they are noticed and bought. Those who can sustain with their work without having to do concessions toward costumers since these customers ask them for their views.

15. What do you do when those creative juices just seems to evade you. How do you "get creative"?
Putting away the cam and take a long walk, watch & work with colleagues and talk to them about their views and feelings.

16. Tell us about a time when inspiration just hits you, and you felt the insatiable urge to create. What did you do with that energy?
We have one big advantage. Namely Danielle being a model next to a photographer. So if inspiration hits us, we prepare the studio and start working with each other. Sometimes this also involves Frenk being the model ;-)

17. What have you discovered about yourself through photography?
We feel that photography is more than just point and shoot. That it is easy to keep focused as long as you do it with your heart. I (Frenk) also learned to work with people where I first had problems making contacts with. Now I can't seem to shut up ;-)

18. Whose work do you admire the most? Why?
Sarah Silver for her fashion and beauty photography. Anton Corbijn for his simplicity in catching real people. Ian Curtis and Kurt Cobain for the courage of leaving a world that did not provide them happiness.

19. Do you have any advice for those who are just getting in to stock photography?
Keep it simple. Take a good look at how the big sellers present their work.
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