Issue 28
Jan Welters
One of the most dedicated creative minds in fashion,
Jan Welters is an international photographer whose
works have been featured in the most established magazines like Vogue and Elle.
“I can't imagine doing anything other than photography,” says fashion photographer Jan Welters. His earnest passion for photography manifests through his high-profile works that are relevant to the culture of our own time. Remember the June issue of Elle featuring Miley Cyrus as Rapunzel with a mohawk? Or the critically acclaimed Blue Jasmine star Cate Blanchett’s cover for Elle that just came out this October? All these über famous and accomplished beauties - captured in effortless delicacy by Welters.

Born and raised in Holland, Welters has traveled to wherever that called for his talent: Amsterdam, New York, Milan, Paris and now residing in California. Throughout his vibrant career, he has worked for a wide range of publications like Vogue, Elle, InStyle, and GQ and collaborated with global fashion houses like Dior, Balenciaga, Victoria’s Secret and Bloomingdales. Also, he is involved with the visual production of Superfine, a London based denim brand that his wife Lucy Pinter founded.

Here, Welters tells Playing Fashion about his twenty years in the most dynamic and vivid industry, his opinion about Instagram and a surprising life-changing event that led him to discover his love for yoga.

MY DAD WAS TAKING PICTURES WITH A ROLLEICORD. He gave me that same camera to use when I started to show interest at the age of 15. I sold my 10 speed bike to buy darkroom equipment. I started to take pictures of the girls at school. One day I saw Peter Lindbergh's images in a magazine and I knew that’s what I wanted to do. From then there was no way back.

I WENT TO ART SCHOOL IN BREDA, The Netherlands and was asked to leave after two years. 'No talent..'. I then went to Amsterdam to get a job as an assistant photographer. Frans van der Heyden, a well known photographer in Holland at that time took me on and asked me after a few months if I wanted to come with him to NY.
He was going to shoot the international Coca Cola campaign, had bought an apartment and just split up with his wife so the moment seemed right. We worked hard, travelled loads and had a lot of fun. I stayed with him for about 5 years. It was during this period the real learning started.

FROM NY I WENT BACK TO AMSTERDAMto start my own career. Continued to Milan and finally Paris where I lived for 18 years. I think Paris is for me the most 'photographic' city. The culture, the romance...

ONE SHOOT COMES TO MIND: Courtney Love for Elle UK. We were working till early morning and she performed her whole new album to me while I was photographing her. We ended up doing semi-nudes in jeans from my wife's label Superfine. (Particular project I would like to do is to) take portraits of Kate Moss and Patti Smith.

IT'S TRUE THAT PHOTOGRAPHY IS RAPIDLY CHANGING. My wife does amazing Instagrams. People don't look through a camera anymore but at the screen of their iPhone. Everyone can take a good image now. But professional photographers need to know the technique. I'm usually associated with the '90's because that's when I started to work. But I've moved on from then and completely open to new experiences. And (photographers need to know) how to deal with clients - when it's clever to be strong and when to let go. I manage to deal with the difficult personalities because I'm fairly quiet myself. I let them create the drama and I try to focus on the work. I stay sane by combining commercial jobs with more free work.

WHEN I WAS DIAGNOSED WITH A BRAIN TUMOR two years ago I radically changed my life. I started to do yoga, no more smoking, drinking and bad food. So we all moved to Topanga Canyon, close to LA. Fresh air! That combined with very good scan results and the support of my wife and kids kept me positive. I started shooting again 4 months after the operation.

Photography by Jan Welters.
Words by Sunny Park