In Focus with Vincent N. Van
Vincent, 32 years old, has been passionate about images since he was a child. He began his career as a director at an early age in 2008, and later as a photographer. This self-taught artist studied with the first DV cameras of the time and then perfected his skills with SLRs and digital hybrids. He has been living his passion full time for 2 years now.
Four months ago, he joined the Meero community.
After training in the field and making two short films which he presented at festivals, 21-year-old Vincent was approached with a surprising opportunity: "During a discussion between film enthusiasts in my video club, my best friend and I were approached by the director Carole Nouchi. After seeing our short film, she fell in love with it! Very quickly, we had the idea of setting up a small team of videographers. Thanks to her and her many contacts in the film industry, we had this immense opportunity to be in charge of our first making-of for Roselyne Bosch's film LA RAFLE. Carole Nouchi was the director, and as for us, we were assistant editors.”
He worked on two other making-of’s but then went through a dry spell without work: "It's a very difficult environment, especially in France since ‘making-of’s are not very common compared to the U.S. because there it is rooted in the culture of the country. The American public loves to know how a film was made. Here in France, the ‘making-of’ has been used for some time now as a means of communication for distributors. With few exceptions, production companies are no longer really ready to allocate a real budget to ensure the making-of part of their films. I have indeed learned that even having been in the film business very early on, there is absolutely nothing to ensure that you will keep your place in this world.”
In 2012, he got in touch with the director Louis-Pascal Couvelaire, another encounter that allowed him to keep the dream alive.
"I remember it as if it was yesterday. In 2003, I saw 'MICHEL VAILLANT' at the theater. I was just amazed! It was the first major production of Europa Corp and for me, it was the most successful French car chase film. When I think about it, it's pretty crazy! Nine years later, I find my favorite director by chance on Facebook. So I decided to send him an email, asking him if a meeting was possible."
After producing a portrayal of the director, Couvelaire decided to take his Van with him to Morocco for a week, in order to make the ‘making-of’ of the commercial he was about to shoot at that time. Even with this additional experience, he once again found himself with a lack of film work. That’s when he turned to photography.
“It was above all a pragmatic choice more than a real desire! At the time I thought I really didn't have any affinity for photography. Even if I have always loved following the work of different film directors, for me it was a totally different practice, with its rules, its codes."
© Vincent N. Van
That's when he began to practice with portraits. "I contacted different models on Instagram to offer photoshoots with a theme we would define together. After that, I did a few more personal things with a very charismatic musician friend. The project made a lot of noise and allowed me to participate in photo festivals. My picture was published on the Panasonic Experience homepage, which gave me great visibility."
Vincent then went on to shoot weddings, marriages and even cover news stories: "I covered the Gilet Jaunes protests in Paris as an independent press photographer. It was a very powerful experience for me."
© Vincent N. Van
"It was at that moment that I realized that the words used by Meero, like community and unity, reflect reality."
One day, he stumbled upon a Facebook ad, and decided to register on Meero: "I contacted Pauline, who is a lovely human being. She told me about the different projects and asked me about my equipment. I then had to pass tests before validating my registration. For the record, I failed my first try because of the framing, because the tests are rigorous."
Vincent then passed the badges, which are certifications, and very quickly received his first assignments: “I immediately opted for proximity and started with shoots for Just Eat. Once you have the strategy, once you do the first shooting, the others are done much faster than what is advertised on the platform."
"A lot of people think that companies like Meero don't care about what we do, but I am the very example that this is not true. Maxime Jucha (Operations Manager) was very fond of my work on the Gilets Jaunes. So he asked me to cover a Meetup organized by the startup. That's when I realized that the platform was really great, both in terms of benefits and compensation."
© Vincent N. Van
For Vincent, the removal of post-processing represents a significant time-saver for him, he thinks it can even be a major asset for certain very specific projects such as real estate or culinary shoots, he does not see AI as a threat to his creativity: "If Meero calls me back for other even more specific shots, it is because they like my personal style. Just because an AI edits my photos doesn't mean the photos don’t have my personal style.”
As for his best experience at Meero, it remains VivaTech:
"The show lasted 3 days, during which I met other photographers who later became friends. A few days after the end of the event, we got together and created a small group on Facebook. We use it to maintain contact, but also to discuss our work, to send each other missions or services to which we, unfortunately, cannot answer due to lack of time. It was at that moment that I realized that the keywords used by Meero, like community and unity, reflect reality. And I really hope that this group will continue to grow."
When it comes to his list of contacts, Vincent concedes that it has really developed thanks to Meero: "The photos taken under contracts with the platform belong to him, but nothing prevents me from working in the future with the customers I meet via Meero. It is a great platform for meeting people, which connects us with many people who appreciate our work."
For Vincent, it is important that photographers stand out for the quality of their work: "I am the very proof that it is possible to get contracts following meetings made thanks to Meero. For me, the platform is more a complementary salary than a salary in itself."
Jean-Paul Belmondo at the opening of Olivier Palade's exhibition at the Théâtre des Mathurins © Vincent N. Van
In addition to the speed of payment, the compensation for the when clients cancel and the interesting missions, Vincent sees in Meero an inexhaustible source of opportunities: "the vast majority of photographers who are afraid of Meero are those who have long been on the market. The platform disrupts the comfort of these photographers. I see it more as an opportunity. Meero is not here to make our work more complicated than it is. On the contrary, it is there to make it easier."
© Vincent N. Van