It was my dad, who as a devoted hobbyist and who pictured military aircraft worldwide and had his Kodachrome slides published worldwide, that had a profound influence on me becoming a photographer. He had a silver camera case and it was filled with Nikon F2’s (to this day I shoot with Nikon) and whenever he was not around I’d sneak into his room, which he forbade me of course, and I would take the cameras out and study them up close.
My dad stimulated me and my brother shooting photographs and gave us cameras even before we were teens.
By the time I was 15 years old I was asked to provide some pictures of a heavy metal band, Iron Maiden, who were playing in Amsterdam for a fanzine called Headbanger. The pictures did not turn out to be much but two did make it into the second issue. At the same time I was asked to shoot the album covers of the records that were being reviewed. I borrowed my dad’s tripod and placed the album sleeves on the ground and managed to duplicate them as such, all very clumsily done if I may add.
A few months later I shot bands like Accept, Tank and Y&T that same year, 1982, and the shots turned out to be a whole lot better and were subsequently used as well. I partnered up and eventually ended up running Headbanger myself from the middle of 1983 to the middle of 1987. Gradually I had my articles, interviews and photographs published worldwide fanzines and magazines, such as Loud, Metal Rendez Vous, Powerline and BURRN!.
Military service loomed and I would not have the time to do this any more plus heavy metal had gone from the so called underground scene to big business. While in the army I took my camera everywhere and shot on exercises and on the base, a book of this was released in Nov. 2012 and presented to the the regiment’s commander in Sept. 2013.
Having finished military service 14 months later and getting on my parents’ nerves I moved south to Vught (near Den-Bosch) where I became an assistant to Harry van der Brugghen, an advertising photographer who took me under his wing and who taught me how to process film, make proper bromide prints and learn the characteristics of lighting objects and people.
I stayed with him for almost two years and learned a lot and we have been friends to this day, but after my tenure I realised that I did not like shooting dead objects and really preferred to shoot living ones instead. So I choose pretty girls………..meaning fashion. For this in The Netherlands only one city would be appropriate to continue and that was Amsterdam. Having met a few ‘big’ photographers over there I got the advice to quit assisting and and take the plunge instead. But Amsterdam did not have a lot of action so to speak in the early 90’s
For this, at that time, there were in Europe only two cities where you could pursue this to the max and it was either Milan or Paris. I choose Milan, but I had no idea what I was letting myself into. I did not know anyone there.
So I started out testing for model agencies such as Fashion, WhyNot, Beatrice and Marcella Studio. I ended up shooting a lot around town, but also in the Alps as train travel was dirt cheap.
My heroes back then were Peter Lindbergh, Albert Watson, Bill King, Helmut Newton and above all Javier Vallhonrat.
Milan was fun, I stayed there for two and a half years (with stints in cities like Vienna, Lisbon and NYC), but I had reached an end and needed something else. Almost at the same time Harry called me as his studio was caught on fire and this happened while he was doing a massive job. So back I went and helped him doing this job for almost 9 months, but the itch of the need for another foreign adventure loomed and by the suggestion of a hair stylist friend of mine, I went to London.
London has been my base for almost 20 years now, I don’t get bored here. Instead it has taught me to diversify as a photographer, I have started personal art projects which involved street photography, something I was not accustomed to, went back into music photography and learned to love that again, started shooting flowers, derelict buildings, fireworks all aspects of photography just a little different, in the sense of discipline, from each other.
Personally I am not much in love with the digital format as compared to film, no doubt am I betraying my age here, but there are just certain things that digital simply cannot do as film can, no matter how hard it tries to emulate it.