Hans Aarsman’s talk at TEDxAmsterdam was titled “From pretty to ugly and back again; mysterious ways of beauty in photography” and the audience judged it one of the highlights of the day. Surprising, insightful and at times hilarious, Aarsman shows different concepts of beauty in photography, and suggests that the only real photographic beauty is to be found in pictures that were made without such a goal in mind.
Hans Aarsman is a former photographer, who worked as a photo journalist at a Dutch newspaper and published a series of books. In 1989 he published the book “Hollandse Taferelen” (Dutch scenes). He published three more photo books before he left photography. He now writes about photography, a.o. for the Dutch daily newspaper the Volkskrant.
Reports on his talk
- (in Dutch) Video interview and report of his talk by the TEDxAmsterdam crew
- (in Dutch) Marketingfacts: Hans Aarsman, een hoogtepunt op TEDxAmsterdam, longer video interview by Joris van Heukelom in the Blueshots TV show ‘Curriculum Vitae’.
- (in Dutch) Video interview for FD
Selected quote, from Wired UK, Our man in Amsterdam
“Hans Aarsman, a photographer, resumed by talking about his work, exploring different concepts of beauty in photography. He arrived at the paradoxical conclusion that “if you want to make an interesting picture, you ought not to want to make it” and contrasted the notion of aesthetic photographic beauty with an investigative type, where beauty lies in discovering something through or in the picture. He summarised the benefits of this approach: “I got paid more money and I moved into a bigger apartment”.
And as a bonus, Aarsman’s most popular picture, which derives its popularity from its ressemblance “to any painting by Casper David Friedrich”. (Free high resolution downloads of 99 Aarsman pictures including this one are available via the Dutch Fotomuseum)