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Hellen Van Meene
The Netherlands, 1972
Hellen van Meene is known for her square shaped intimate and highly stylized coming-of-age portraits of young adolescents. Her subjects, mostly teenage girls and in a few cases androgenic boys, are never conventional looking, classic beauties. Van Meene approaches her subjects as if they were objects, carefully dressing and directing them in front of the camera. Details like clothing, make-up and the pose of the model in front of the camera are very important to the photographer and are sincerely considered.
According to van Meene, this meticulous styling and intense interaction is necessary in order to make her subjects feel more confident, eventually allowing their personality and inner beauty to come out. Her elegant but often quite awkward portraits reveal the dignity and vulnerability of this stage in life.
Despite her attention to details and styling, van Meene exclusively shoots outside the studio, under natural light. Her color and light saturated photographs are often compared with the work of 17th-century Dutch painters like Johannes Vermeer, that is characterized by their exquisite, jewel-like details and glowing, light-washed quality.
Van Meene often works with models she finds close to her home, and who she has known for years. Beside this, the artist frequently travels the world, finding interesting subjects along the way. In 2002 for instance, she photographed Japanese teenagers, with whom she could only communicate in a non-verbal way.
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