I am a social documentary photographer and storyteller with a background in media studies. In my work I try to get a grip on the smaller, yet essential aspects of life that we tend to lose contact with in our current society. I look for universal feelings of sincerity, vulnerability and humor to build bridges between different groups of people. Engagement and collaboration are key, providing the people I photograph a platform and a voice. By telling stories that evoke a sense of humanness or commonality in us all, I hope to open up perspectives and share worlds that otherwise might not be seen or heard.
In the late summer of 2015 I met Kees in Kamerik, a little village in the Green Heart of Holland. He intrigued me with his bright blue eyes, cowboy style and American classic car. I had never seen a cowboy in Holland before and wondered who this man was. It was only after five years that I found out why Kees had ended up here. His reclusive lifestyle, simple and surrounded by nature, was not so much out of idealism, but out of necessity. When at some point Kees had lost nearly everything dear to him in his life, he realized that the most basic and essential thing we have here on earth couldn’t be taken away from him; nature. Inspired by the old cowboy culture, he built up his new life. Simple, free and with respect for all living creatures on earth. In the tranquility of nature Kees was able to breathe again. He taught me that being a cowboy is not only about wearing a cool hat and leather boots, it’s about the lifestyle that it represents. We need cowboys like Kees to bring us back to the simplicity of what life really is about. Kees has become my natural self-help book in our modern society and he might just become yours too.
This book is the book I wish I’d had in my photography studies.
It is a playful, exploratory and accessible book full of assignments for every photographer who wants to tell stories with people, instead of about them. It will introduce you to the concept of socially engaged photography and challenge you to incorporate participation and collaboration in your own photographic practice.
This book has no rules, no beginning and no end, no long dense texts, no facts you have to learn by heart and no tests you have to pass.
It does however require some other qualities from you. It asks for an open mind, a brave attitude, a listening ear, an empathetic heart and a willingness to collaborate with others around you.
Good luck, enjoy and engage!