Introducing Jan Ras
Jan Ras grew up in a very creative family and was constantly surrounded by classical music; two things which he considers had a great influence on his choice of career. At the age of four, his family moved to Port Elizabeth and he regards himself very lucky to have had both the coast and the beautiful greenlands of the eastern coast right around the corner!
A precious childhood memory
The childhood memory he holds most dear has to be the one of his father teaching him how to use a fully manual camera. “It took a while for me to understand the interplay between aperture and shutter speed and remember my dad asking me if I understood after which I said that all the numbers confuse me a bit.”
The camera he talks about is a very… let’s say… ‘aged’ camera, a full manual Zenit, with the light meter on the outside of the camera. Jan says that learning the basics on a camera like that was amazing!
Starting out in the industry
“Initially, I wanted to study architecture but photography was more intriguing.” So, after studying photography at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University in Port Elizabeth, he went on to secure his first job as an in-house photographer for Media 24’s ‘Home’ magazine, in Cape Town.
Though he was lucky enough to secure a job right after studying, he urges anyone interested in becoming a reputable photographer in the industry is to assist a professional photographer. “And by that I don’t mean assisting on a few shoots, I mean assisting for a few years” and working your way to the top. All the while, learning to have respect for the people who’ve been doing it for years.
How trends influence photography
Trends influence many aspects of photography; among them is composition and lighting techniques. “At the moment, the natural light feel is very trendy, although at times it can be very tricky especially now when magazines no longer want blown out windows like in the past. They prefer details in the windows now.”
Creating flawless light is priceless
“I shoot with the Canon 5D MkIII camera, a Canon EF 24-70mm f2.8, Canon 70-200mm, and 100mm macro lens.” He also uses 2 Canon speedlights with mini soft boxes and the Phottix triggers. On occasion he will shoot with the Elinchrom Studio Flashes and states that a Portable flash kit works well on a decor shoot. “No cords to remove afterwards in Photoshop.”
Jan’s favourite part of his job as architectural, décor and interior photographer is being able to combine his love of landscapes and architecture, seeing beautiful places and working with the best décor stylists in the industry. When on a décor shoot, waiting for the precise moment when the interior light balances in perfect harmony with the ambient light of the sunset, creating flawless light for the final shot is absolutely priceless.
Advice I learned the hard way
Doing an indoor décor shoot on a sunny day, can be a massive problem! A lot of light will need to be scrimmed because of all the harsh shadows, so be sure to pack a big scrim. If you’re really stuck, a white sheet and duct tape will do the trick.
Hidden talents and crazy dreams
Besides making a mean cup of joe, Jan loves cooking Asian food, especially Thai curry, “That’s my favourite.”
Inspired by the work of Robert Polidori, Jan dreams of one day shooting a travel book. Combining exterior, interior and travel photography.
Jan’s dream house
Since he is in the business of architecture and beautiful homes we had to know what Jan’s dream house would look like. He said that he’ll build an eco-style house made from recyclable materials and with lots of greenery around! And since his favourite colour is white, his interior will be mostly white with clean lines and a minimalistic feel to it. The ceilings should be high and there will definitely be more than one fire place… and if the editor of VISI wouldn’t want to photograph my house then I know it’s time to move!”
Jan not only captures the beautiful design and handwork going into each building; the meticulous detail and thought going into the interior and each piece of decor so mindfully put into its place… He also has that instinctive ability of capturing the essence of the structure as a whole.
Be sure to keep an eye on the latest magazines to see more of his work and be inspired!