DPP Home Profiles Patrick Hoelck - Film Noir

Friday, May 25, 2007

Patrick Hoelck - Film Noir

Patrick Hoelck's distinctively dark style casts today's brightest stars in a new light

Making Beautiful Photographs

For such a relatively short career, Hoelck has had his share of landmark moments that helped establish him as a legitimate talent. He self-published a book of photographs that started his phone ringing. He was also given a magazine cover by a friend, the actor Vincent Gallo. The shoot was for the British trade Flux, and he got the assignment over a more established photographer: Richard Avedon.

Hoelck says that working with celebrities can be like working with anyone else—just as brilliant or just as dreadful. They will refer him to new clients or maybe they'll throw tantrums. Either way, it's all a part of the deal.

“For the last few years,” Hoelck says, “my theory has been: the bigger the entertainer, the easier the day; the smaller, the more difficult. For some reason, lately the big entertainers either come solo or with one strong publicist, whereas the new generation seems to come with a manager, a publicist—an entourage, so to speak. This isn't all the time, but my general study has been that the bigger ones have a level of professionalism. They actually go on your site the night before and understand who you are. They don't have an assistant do it; they know specific photos and they quote specific things. It's very impressive, and it's very cool. They work with you. Great people want great work. It's almost like a team, where we're all equal members of making something great. I wish that was always the case.”

More than the tabloid nature of the business, Hoelck is interested in making beautiful photographs. This shows both in his work and in how he talks about the tools he needs to do his job. Although he's not doing much digital capture now, he gives the distinct impression that the transition is bound to occur sooner or later. It's just a matter of first ironing out the kinks.

“My issues thus far have been the blacks and the whites,” Hoelck explains. “The extremes haven't been holding the definition for me when I shoot digital. But that's something that I'm messing with. Just now [for Battlestar Galactica], we did my look and went even further, and I embraced how hyper-sharp the Hassy [Hoelck used a Hasselblad H1 on the shoot] and these huge digital files were. And I also learned that to get the falloff and to keep information in the shadows with digital capture, I just needed more fill. That was my secret this time.

“It's funky sometimes,” Hoelck continues. “The simplest things, like can't we just put an image of reference next to the image that we're doing? Not at all. Why, with this billion-dollar modern shit, is the most simple request not available? People come into cost. At that level, the difference between digital and film is maybe four bucks at the end of the day.”

As his slow transition to digital technology occurs, Hoelck is certain of at least one thing: he won't let the computer change his shooting style. No matter how obsessive it may be, he'd rather be a perfectionist photographer than a digital hack. “I never want to be the guy where you show up and you blast, and say, ‘They can fix it,'” he adds. “If you're so in your own way, you'll never get anything done.”

To see more of Patrick Hoelck's photography, visit www.patrickhoelck.com.



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