I initiate documentary photography projects. ‘Slow journalism’ is my tool for telling personal stories and shedding light on the individual as a metaphor for the unpredictable and complex world.
I I am a news and documentary photographer based in The Netherlands, focusing on social, economic and political issues around the world. In my projects I aim to raise awareness for contemporary social issues in which I am particularly sensitive for the consequences of large political decisions on regular individuals. Through my photography I focus on small personal stories, giving the individual a face and voice as a metaphor for larger and complex issues. Engaging with society from grassroots perspectives I use my camera to communicate and aspire to create understanding on contemporary issues in relation to political and economic transformations.
In 2005 I published the book Brave New Kosovo, A world of transformation and imagination, a photojournalistic merge of stories about Kosovo six years after the war. It draws a human, but sometimes grim picture of the life in this former UN-protectorate, portraying individuals from the streets as well as decision makers at the top. My work on the Zimbabwean exodus won a number of awards, including Dutch Photojournalist of the Year 2007, a special recognition in the POYI World Understanding Award 2009, and was used by the Human Rights Watch lobby to help create a change of asylum policy in South Africa towards Zimbabweans. I consider this to be the greatest achievement of my career.
In 2012 I published OFFSIDE football in exile; a project on the situation in Nagorno Karabach through the eyes of FK Qarabag Agdam; an Azerbaijani football club in exile longing for an ill-fated return to their home ground in the ghost city of Agdam. The city was occupied and destroyed during the war on Nagorno Karabakh between 1991 and 1993. Nowadays it is the sole remnant of the past and living symbol of hope and pride for over half a million Azerbaijani refugees. Meanwhile the Armenian football team FK Karabakh Stepanakert from Nagorno Karabakh is banned from professional football. Due to the lack of international recognition for the breakaway Republic of Nagorno Karabakh, football association FIFA does not recognise teams from the region. As a result, FK Karabakh Stepanakert has been isolated entirely. OFFSIDE appeared as a book as well as an exhibition at Noorderlicht Gallery Groningen.
Currently I am working on two long-term projects. The first project is Status: Undocumented which I started in 2009 for the World Press Photo Joop Swart Masterclass. It is a project in which I am photographing the everyday life of five illegal migrants living in different European capitals. By showing their everyday struggle in Europe, combined with images of the country of origin and the beloved ones who are left behind, I want to challenge the gaze of the public towards a group of people who have never been invited.
The other project I am working on is The Rise of Populism which will be launched in September 2012 during the International Day of Peace in Utrecht, The Netherlands. This project is a collaboration between several European photographers who document the populist developments in their home countries. I aim to photograph a pamphlet of my activities in my atelier at the Middendijk in Usquert.