HYUN DE GRANDE was born in Korea but based in Belgium since he was a kid.
He has been a cinematographer for a long time.
As an image creator, he has a sensitive and great observe of light and shadow. So he picks up the camera to document the scenes in his life besides his work. From motion picture to photographs, there are more details through his camera.
It always comes with strong light and shadow in his pictures, at the same time it's very peaceful when you look at his works.
He's traveled to Toronto in 2019, I just moved to Toronto that time, and I met him in this diversity city.
I was very impressed and obsessed with his unique cinematic styles.
定居於比利時的韓裔攝影師HYUN DE GRANDE長期擔任電影攝影師一角。
Q1: Please introduce yourself shortly, and tell us what are you doing in your life now?
My name is Hyun De Grande. I’m a cinematographer from Belgium, and I mainly work in the narrative and commercial fields.
I also started doing street photography in 2019 as a passion on the side.
我的名字是Hyun De Grande。我是一位來自比利時的電影攝影師，我主要創作在敘事故事和廣告影像。
Q2: Where are you from? Tell us about your background.
Do you think different places influenced you in a different way when you create your work? How so?
I was born in Seoul, South Korea but I was adopted to Belgium when I was 4 months old. I grew up in a small town close to Bruges with my parents and my brother until I later moved to Ghent to study film. I only stayed there for two years, and then I decided to move to Brussels to study cinematography. This is where I currently have been living for the past 11 years. I absolutely think that different places influence me in different ways. Every location has its own identity, so I receive different kinds of inspiration wherever I go. That’s also why I love travelling! It opens your eyes towards new cultures and new perspectives on life, which is very important to me.
Q3: When did you start your photography project?
Why you wanted to start it at the first? Also, tell us about your image concept.
I studied both film and photography when I was younger. Afterwards, I chose to continue my studies and my career in the film industry, and so my photography was slowly moving to the background. I wasn’t taking any photographs for a while, until 2019. During that year I didn’t have a lot of movie projects, which meant I had a lot of free time. I was looking for a way to keep myself focused, and to keep training my skills to create images, so I decided to give photography another chance. I wanted to do street photography, because that really fascinated me. Just walking around with a camera and capturing these spontaneous moments around you is so fulfilling.
My goal from the beginning was to play around with cinematic elements because that was a language I felt comfortable with. That’s also one of the main reasons why I photograph all my pictures in a wide aspect ratio. I shoot with a fairly wide-angle lens (23mm fuji), and I rarely shoot close-ups because I like using the environment in the frame to convey emotions, even when the environment is totally abstract. For example, I really enjoy using the negative space because it can add a sense of loneliness, emptiness or alienation; which are all emotions I’m personally drawn to. I also prefer my shots to be clean and calm. Simple lines or shapes, not too many subjects, not too much information. It helps me to translate simple ideas that are easily readable.
Q4: So your main job is a cinematographer, what’s the difference when you chose the way to create the images?
Do you like being a photographer more or a cinematographer?
The biggest difference for me is the way how an image is made. In cinema every frame is created through a collaboration with other people. Usually it’s a process that involves planning, rehearsing and fabrication. Whereas in street photography you create every shot by yourself, and it is mostly improvised. Also, the perception of a cinematic frame is completely different compared to a photograph. A photograph usually stands alone, and therefore it has to be able to tell a story, or to convey an emotion, through that one single image which is frozen in time. A movie frame usually only gathers meaning once you see it within the context of a shot or a scene. It’s a totally different mindset between both, even though they utilize the same tools such as aperture, shutter speed, focal length, etc. I find both equally interesting, because they provide me with completely different sets of challenges, ideas and workflows. They complement one another in a very enriching way for me personally.
Q5: How do you create your work?
Where is your inspiration from? If you don’t have any inspiration, what would you do?
My inspiration comes from a lot of different places, such as movies, museums, galleries, books, music or travels. Instagram has become a main source of inspiration for my photography work specifically. There’s a lot of fantastic work on there by photographers from around the world, be it professionals or amateurs. That’s why I love apps like Instagram. They provide a platform for people who wouldn’t be able to showcase their work otherwise. But at the same time, they also provide a platform for an audience to discover work from artists you wouldn’t be able to discover otherwise. And seeing huge amounts of beautiful art by other people just raises the bar for myself, because it mentally pushes me to keep improving and to keep shooting. It really motivates me!
Q6: If you can collaborate with one person, who would be that person? Why?
There are tons of people I’d love to work with, but I would be very happy to receive a phone call from Wong Kar Wai one day! ☺
Q7: Please share one of your pictures with us, the most special one or interesting one you love, what’s the story behind it?
I took this shot while I was walking in Toronto with you actually. It was near Union Station, and I noticed this redheaded girl sitting on a ledge by herself. I was really fascinated by her posture, with her straight back and her hands cupped in front of her. Her head was tilted down a bit, which created a feeling of sadness or a sense of melancholy underlying the scene. The light was also hitting her in such a beautiful way, as if she was being isolated from her surroundings. She seemed so fragile, as if she was contemplating her life on that ledge. The contrasting tones of the warm wall and the cool reflections in the glass buildings on the right side also really caught my eye. It looked so pleasing esthetically, but it also fitted the narrative of a person who is trying to find balance. This image immediately sparked my interest once I saw it, and I’m very happy I was able to capture it!
Q8: Who inspires you the most so far in your life? Why?
One of my all-time favourite photographers is Fan Ho. He is mainly known for documenting the streets of Hong Kong during the 50s and 60s. His style is characterized by bold uses of geometry, light and shadow to emphasize emotions. His subjects often seem fragile within the large compositions he frames them in. There’s a sense of serenity in his work to which I’m really drawn to. He also had a very human approach to his work, in the sense that he found it essential for any photographer to feel a scene before you can capture it, otherwise it wouldn’t make any sense. I absolutely agree with that philosophy because art should always be about emotions above aesthetics in my opinion.
Edward Hopper is also a huge influence! I really love his depictions of loneliness and alienation throughout his paintings. His characters often seem lost in space or time, to which the audience is a distant observer. Those particular emotions fascinate me as a person and that’s probably why I can easily connect with his work.
Another artist who has impacted my work is Philip-Lorca DiCorcia, but in a very different way compared to Fan Ho. DiCorcia’s photographs are very stylized and cinematic, which is definitely a recurring theme in my own work as well.
There are many other artists who inspire me, but I guess those three are examples of people with a recognizable link to my photography work.