FAQ / Profession

Why are you a photographer?

I grew up in a Catholic family in a medium-sized town in the east of the Netherlands. Our community was quite isolated from the outside world, and anyone who was different faced a great deal of prejudice. As a child I believed that this prejudice was reality, but as I got older I realised that it was usually based on incorrect assumptions. I also discovered that I frequently found ‘the other’, who was generally regarded with contempt, more interesting than the respectable Roman Catholics in ‘our’ community. That discovery was at the heart of my decision to become a photographer. Photography allows me to question my own prejudices and to look closely at other groups of people. I hope to engage others in my examination, and in so doing offer a counterbalance to unfounded opinions and populist ideas. I am convinced that more knowledge of each other leads to greater mutual understanding.

Which equipment do you use?

Since 2003, I have shot colour negative film with a medium-format and a large-format analogue camera. The medium-format camera was first a Pentax 67II (SLR), later replaced by a Mamiya 7II (rangefinder). My large-format camera is a Horseman 45HD. I always use a light wide-angle lens, 80 mm for the medium-format camera and 135 mm for the large-format camera. I also use a Lumedyne flash kit with a white umbrella. After The Sochi Project I started working digital. At the moment I’m shooting with a Fuji GFX50R.

If you weren’t a photographer, what would you be?

Lots of things. A teacher, probation officer, chef, speed skater and politician. Actually, I still want to be all these things.

How did you get started?

My grandfather was an amateur photographer. After he died, I was given his darkroom equipment and was instantly hooked. I soon decided to combine photography with my other hobby: sport. When I was about 13, I took a stack of my sports photos to the picture editor of the local newspaper, convinced that they were better than the photos he was publishing. He thought this was hilarious and told me I could put my photos through his letterbox on Sunday evenings after the matches. He published my first photos not long after. My interest in sport faded when, at 18, I started a degree in social and legal services. After an internship and a short stint as a probation office, I decided to apply for a BA in photography. I thought a year would teach me what I needed to know. At the end of that first year, I began to understand just how difficult it is to communicate through photography. It took me another four years to graduate. Looking back, I realise that both degrees contributed to who I am now and what I do professionally.

Why photography?

I am under no illusion that my work is going to change the world on a grand scale. I suspect that making a movie, for example, is a much better medium to reach a mass audience. However, I believe that photography can engage people in complex stories in a way that words cannot do. One of the most attractive aspects of photography is that it leaves a lot of room for interpretation by the viewer.

Another question…