Michel Mees (Drunen, 1969) has been dragging his camera bags to nightclubs, hotels and palaces for more than two decades now. Palaces you said? Yep. That’s where this versatile photographer from The Hague found His Royal Highness Prince Bernhard in front of his lens. “ It’s one of the advantages of being a photographer”, Mees smiles. “You go through doors that remain closed for others”.
Music being his big love it was hardly surprising Michel Mees started his career pressed against the edge of local concerthall stages, making snapshots of new bands. While still attending the Royal Academy of Art, his phone started ringing with offers of work. Magazines were keen to pick up this talented dude from The Hague. Since then Michel Mees has snapped his shutter in front of hundreds of dj’s & musicians, including Armin van Buuren, Alice Cooper and Tiësto. For a good portrait he travels as far as Uzbekistan.
But you wouldn’t do him credit by naming Mees a music photographer. He’s much more. His bulky portfolio includes commercial work, (travel) reportages and lots of portraits.
His intuitive and repo-like style was formed by the time pressure that often goes with music photography. “Unless you’re lucky you will only get a few minutes for a portrait”, Mees points out. “I like that challenge. You have to make do with the props you find in the twenty square meters around the hotel.”
What makes Mees’ pictures stand out is the feeling of spontaneity in his pictures. Like you are accidentally witnessing the decisive moment, together with the photographer.
However, the casual nature of his shots can be deceiving. Sometimes it involves hours of preparation. Mees: “I try to grab that special moment. Like a still from a movie.”