Jan Stel [1970, Purmerend, the Netherlands] is a self-taught photographer. As a creative person, Jan was a pioneering artist in his youth. He created graffiti murals in the suburbs of Amsterdam and at home he made detailed drawings and realistic illustrations. The analogue photo gear of his father sparked his interest in photography, and inspired him to develop his own creative style. Today Jan uses technical tilt/shift lenses for maximum photography quality, this in combination with hi-end cameras result in very large format prints and panoramic expressions.
“It must have been around 1998 that my fascination for long gone glory started. I am attracted to a forgotten world that is slowly being reclaimed by Mother Nature. Characteristic architecture, abandoned by man and signs of disappeared craftsmanship still show much of their history. Regularly I am surprised by those abandoned and almost forgotten locations.
Locations that once were full of life and activities are now silent and all human presence is disappeared. Instead of demolition, I hope that this faded glory will undergo extensive restoration and will be transformed into a place where young and old can enjoy this lost history. Many of the objects I have photographed have now been demolished or transformed to a new destination.”
Jan Stel’s photography is made in pure, natural light; no flashlights or studio lamps are used. This authentic working process takes patience, sensitivity and excellent timing. Jan explains his photographic style in this way: “The human eye is far more sensitive than a camera lens and picks up minor as well as major differences in a scene. Because the photo camera is limited in its ability, I capture the image in multiple exposures. The difference between the scene my eye has seen and what the camera was able to capture fascinates me. I want to reassert this sensitivity. I do this by brushing the photographed brackets into a sort of light painting, similar to what the dark room masters and painters used to do long ago.”
Jan his photography received a lot of interest from (inter)national media and has been published in The Daily Mail, De Volkskrant, NRC Handelsblad, De Telegraaf, in dozens of magazines and on many websites and blogs. It also obtained several awards, like the Sony World Photography Awards, International Color Awards and the Epson Pano Awards. It’s exhibited regularly and is part of many private and corporate collections.