I was 27 when I travelled to India with a camera. A year before I graduated from law school and nine months working in that field was not a big success. It was not my thing. India was a magnificent experience. I loved everything about it. A totally different culture and photography seemed the perfect outlet for my creativity and urge to tell stories. My Indian experience was made possible my girlfriend Barbara at the time who empathetically put up with my temper and impatience. She has been my true guidance and inspiration in my initial years.
In the early nineties I got a job in Hong Kong at the Asian photo desk of the French News Agency AFP. My two bosses were so generous to accept me. I had hardly any professional photography experience, other than a few stories I did for Associated Press and several Dutch NGO's.
AFP needed nine people and I was keen and ready to start. So they gave me a break. I can still see chief photographer Dominic standing there in his smokey office with the loupe glued to his eye. Looking at a sheet of 12 slides he informed me that I was hired. I couldn't believe it.
So there I was, a photo editor / photographer on a wildly interesting continent. Soon I started traveling to the most bizar locations, some of them not without danger. Afghanistan in the early days after the Russians departed particularly has been shockingly impressive.
After four years of photo journalism I resigned and started a photography business. Again, zero experience. I wanted my own shop. That worked out pretty well. But I had no idea what to focus on so I took everything on my plate. As long as I could make money I was satisfied. So much for motivation. Weddings, products, architecture, culinary assignments, sports, portraits and parties, I did it all. I was a Jack of all trades and a master of none.
I worked round the clock, up to 70 hours per week. Took no vacation and I built a very profitable business. I sold it in 1999. Slightly burnt out I returned to The Netherlands. The price of succes was high.
I decided then that something had to change. I was looking around for photographers and coaches that were better than I was so I could learn a thing or two. Above all I realised that choosing is very very important. I had to find a subject or topic that I could totally immerse myself in. I chose portraiture.
And that had an almost immediate positive impact on my output. A specialist always beats a generalist. I'm so glad I can help my clients tell their stories and boosting their brands.
I live very near the beach in Wassenaar with Marjon who helps me in many ways. We are tolerated by our three cats who make sure we get our rest. They always find me just when I'm about to work too hard and when I should take a break.
I love windsurfing and being outside. My guilty pleasure is Dutch liquorice (for the occasional jump in blood pressure). In the summer we travel to our home at lake Garda Italy, where half of my relatives reside.