I think it happened by accident that I started out as a professional photographer. It was in the late eighties, and I had just quit chemistry school. I was broke and I needed a way to support myself. I didn’t want to rely on social security, but I had to pay the rent. Eat. Buy clothes. So I went out, looking for a job. Any job. I ended up in a grubby one-hour photo shop at the other end of town. Soon, the rhythm of the machinery and the smell of the developing fluids became my companions during the days I spent alone in the workshop. I think that triggered my interest in photography.
I know it is a cliche, but it’s magic to see an image appear on a silver piece of paper. And back in those days I really needed that magic to get out of the daily grind. Well, maybe I still do. And so the day came that I wanted more. I wanted to create photographs instead of simply developing them for others, so I decided to quit my job and to study photography at the Dutch Professional Photography School in Apeldoorn.
During my study I noticed that the theory behind photography had far less of my attention than the practical part of the study. I wanted to do it, instead of just reading about it.
When I entered the practice period in a commercial photo studio, things became more interesting. Learning by trial and error turned out to be far more interesting for me than locking myself up with books. In a way I always had felt so, so it was an easy choice to make when the studio owner offered me a job as an assistant photographer.
After a year I felt I had learned enough to make the next move. Again I quit my job.
At the beginning of 1992, I was working as an advertising photographer in the biggest studio in Europe. In no time I grew as a photographer and as my skills developed, once again I started to feel the need to move on. The desire to work as an independent photographer began to rise and settle into my system. A quarrel with the complacent studio director made me decide to take the leap and start my own business in advertising photography. I walked out the door, slammed it shut and never went back. I have never regretted it!
It worked out well. I became involved in digital photography and image manipulation in 1995, and worked closely together with Bart Nijs, in whom I soon found a friend and valuable colleague. Later, I started to write, film, edit and produce commercial videos.
And so it all went well. Business was good, life was busy. But after a while the need to expand my skills started to nag again. And this time it was different. Perhaps it is when a man reaches the goals he has set, perfects the profession by which he earns a living, that he is truly confronted with what he wants in life.
In the first years of the new millennium I began to feel the need to express more personal feelings, to create for myself. My clients were content and in business I was able to reach the high standards that I always had set for myself.
But what was it that I wanted to tell the world? What was it that I wanted to leave behind?
As I went through the process of becoming an upright person, becoming me, it only felt natural to turn to the thing that never had let me down. Photography.
I discovered the urge to re-invent my creativity. To redefine the person that I was, that I had became, and the events that made me that way.
In the late hours after I finished my assignments, I found myself in the studio, filing, smoothing and composing my photographic concepts. I quit taking pictures and started to make photographs, the ultimate way to tell my story.
Art is like a puzzle.
Slowly the pieces of the puzzle started to fit.
The balance between my commercial work and my personal work made my life as satisfactory as it is at the moment.
Photography is not just a profession, not just a way to express the feelings that make life as complicated and worthwhile as it is.
After a long journey photography has become my eating, my drinking.
I breathe it.
And I still feel the same amazement I did back in the one-hour shop, when I smelled the scent of developing fluids for the first time.