Kim Dalton's picture
Crew Mom

Who's in the Crew? - Spotlight on James van Hees

NAME: James van Hees - https://headshotcrew.com/JamesVanHees

WHERE DO YOU LIVE? Burlington Ontario which is just west of Toronto and North of Niagara Falls

HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN SHOOTING HEADSHOTS? Humbly I can say I shot very poor headshots for years compared to where I am today. Focusing my attention on headshots has been a relatively new effort for me. Perhaps a year and a half.

WHAT ELSE DO YOU LIKE TO SHOOT? My career as a photographer started shortly after 2000 when I opened my Wedding and Portrait business.

WHAT IS YOUR LIGHTING SETUP FOR HEADSHOTS? I had used Alienbees for years, but I currently use Godox Strobes (AD400’s and AD200’s) in strip boxes (12x36’s and 12x54’s) for my headshots. I use a Triangle setup mostly, sometimes the men’s setup. Occasionally I do play with an Octa as a main from time to time.

TELL US A LITTLE ABOUT THE SPACE YOU SHOOT IN. DO YOU OWN IT? RENT IT? OR LIVE IN IT? Currently, I am a photographer without a home. I had an old church studio, then a smaller space downtown …. But closed them both when business slowed down. Now I shoot on location exclusively.

WHEN DID YOU FIRST DISCOVER PH AND THE HSC? Peter first popped up on my radar when I was following F-stoppers. His long hair and Shabanging were kinda hard to miss. I had a few jobs that required headshots so I started seeking out Headshot specific tips and tricks to make sure my work was keeping with industry norms.

The more I looked I kept finding Peter. He had a unique style and attitude which warranted more investigation and although I was able to get close to the technical lighting aspect ….. my work was always felt lacking.

You know that feeling when you are thinking about that new car and you see it on the street and you get a little excited because it’s so new and special …. But then when you buy your car, you are driving it around and it seems like everyone and their brother has the exact same car!

When I started shooting headshots I thought Peter and his knowledge was going to be my secret weapon; that I was unique in picking up his tips and trick, but then once I started shooting headshots and looking online that triangle lighting, the #headshotcrew hashtag, and that word “shabang” seemed to appear everywhere I looked.

HOW LONG DID IT TAKE YOU TO JOIN THE CREW ONCE YOU FOUND IT? I knew Peter had a following and was running a program teaching his methods and sharing his skills. I had checked out the Headshot Crew website a few times …. But never pulled the trigger because I was already following Sue Bryce and her portrait work.

Sue is brilliant in her own right, but for me, the online experience was missing something. Namely: other people!

In March I had been working on a number of shoots and I actually reached out to Rich Soublet whom I found on Instagram (#headshotcrew) and he without hesitation started to share information and helped me understand more clearly than ever the triangle setup he uses and provided information and support about the crew.

I thought to myself if there are people sharing like him inside the crew, it was a place, it was a community I needed to look into more.

Then Covid hit. Everything shut down and 2 weeks after my last shoot I started getting really sick. Like the kind of sick that makes you worried. I was in bed struggling to breathe and I knew at that time I needed to start looking at the things I had been doing very differently.

I made a commitment to myself as I started to get better that I was going to get healthier in all aspects of my life; health, finance, and business. I started my photography career with a very strong mentor …. I knew it was time that I needed an even stronger one now as I was on a mission.

I quit all my subscriptions, I took Rich’s advise and I took Peter’s promotion ….. and voila I became a member in April.

WHAT IS ONE THING ABOUT YOU PEOPLE WOULD NEVER GUESS? Perhaps what most people don’t know about me is I am a huge nature guy and love all outdoor pursuits. I mountain bike every day (Yes every day!)

WHAT IS ONE THING YOU WISH PEOPLE KNEW BOUT YOU? I do a daily motivational message on Instagram (@chatswithjames) encouraging people to find their happiness, success, and freedom.

30 Comments

Menno Klaasse's picture
Protégé

James you Rock, love reading all of this and especially your Instagram chats. Cheers

James Van Hees's picture
Associate

Thank you Menno ..... means the world! The chats are all about giving back and adding value to others. Glad you are enjoying them.

Erik Daems's picture
Protégé

Nice to meet you James! Fellow Fuji-shooter!

Richard Barron's picture
Protégé

Fuji Shooters rock!

James Van Hees's picture
Associate

I am so pleased with my Fuji's .... and I seriously have felt zero remorse switching from my Nikon and Canon FF setups. I use the GFX for all my Headshots, the XT-4 and X100F for my everyday stuff ..... and my crewcast camera is the xt-3 ...... Hello my name is James and I have a problem ..... LOL

James Van Hees's picture
Associate

Thank you Erik ...... What are you shooting with?

Erik Daems's picture
Protégé

Hi James, I own a Fuji X-Pro1 and a X-T1 which I use in the studio because that shoots tethered. For headshots I’m using the 18-55mm 2.8-4 at 55mm and my XF90mm F2

Erik Daems's picture
Protégé

Some time ago we had a little direct chat in one of the CrewCasts, you told me you have a ridiculous amount of Fujifilm cameras. In all shapes and sizes 😊

James Van Hees's picture
Associate

You want to buy my xt-2?? Lol. Too many Fuji’s!

Suzanne Covert's picture
Associate

So glad you joined the crew...I’ve enjoyed getting to know you online. :-)

James Van Hees's picture
Associate

Thanks for the warm Texas hospitality and welcome! Now stop beating me at UNO on Houseparty. LOL

Robert de Wit's picture
Associate

Great story dude. Looking forward to getting you into the studio next time you're in Ottawa.

James Van Hees's picture
Associate

I am so looking forward to that visit Robert!

Mikala Freitas's picture
Protégé

Glad you joined the crew! I really enjoy your input, support and friendship and you awesome headshots! You've Got This!

James Van Hees's picture
Associate

Thank you ... I am so fortunate to be apart of this amazing group of people. Thank you for helping me navigate my early days in the crew, making introductions, and all your help shablitzing my port before my review.

Michael Miller's picture
Protégé

Great attitude for life, James.

James Van Hees's picture
Associate

Thank you Michael. We are limited only by that which we allow to limit us. I have really seen that you've been working hard on your shots .... keep it up!

Chris Noakes's picture
Associate

Hey James, just up the road from me (Kingston). :)

James Van Hees's picture
Associate

Up river maybe .... LOL My nephew just graduated from Queens. You have some great shooting spots in your town! Have you spent much time on wold Island? We'll have to arrange a meet up. Maybe on my way up to see Robert!

Chris Noakes's picture
Associate

Not yet, I just got here myself really. Moved here from North Bay in July, loving the area so far though. And maybe Robert de Wit should come down and we can all hang, Kingston is sort of the middle. haha You're welcome to swing by any time.

Robert de Wit's picture
Associate

I'm in! We can play with Chris' softlighters.

Chris Noakes's picture
Associate

Consider the offer made.

Carolin Thiersch's picture
Associate

So great to have you in the crew James! Thanks for sharing your story!!

James Van Hees's picture
Associate

Danke Carolin ..... diese Gruppe ist so unglaublich. Es ist demütig, von so vielen echten Profis umgeben zu sein.

Mary Denman's picture
Protégé

So glad you joined James! You’re a great addition to the crew! Your instagram chats are awesome!

James Van Hees's picture
Associate

Thank you Mary!! I am humbled to be surrounded by so many great shooters. I am thankful that you are enjoying the instagram chats ... my hope is that my journey will help light the way or encourage others to reach their true selves .... and yes we still have to do that shot!

Pete Coco's picture
Protégé

Yeah James!

James Van Hees's picture
Associate

Thanks Pete

Daniella Monestime's picture
Protégé

Hello James. I’m a fellow Canadian. Grew up with In Montreal. Nice to meet you!

James Van Hees's picture
Associate

Nice to meet you. So former Canadian now living in New York. I’m sure there is a story there.