It's been just a little bit over a year since I first met Claire, who is also an American woman living in Groningen on account of a swell Dutch guy, at a Thanksgiving potluck in an Australian pub in town. I was so pleased when she reached out to me about doing a photo shoot of her and her fiancé, and even more pleased when she told me that they wanted to do the shoot in the most photogenic part of town, complete with cobblestone streets, converted warehouses, gorgeous views of the Der Aa church and beautiful sail boats on one of the canals. As we kept an eye on the ever-changing forecast in the days leading up to the shoot, we joked about making Fearless Photographers-worthy shots of gorgeous light, ominous clouds and inside-out umbrellas. Well, when the light was good, it was very good, and when it was gone, we definitely had our share of dramatic umbrella moments (especially during a downpour in the Noorderplantsoen when Pim proved chivalry isn't dead and gave Claire my busted umbrella while I waited inside a nearby restaurant - see the triptych below). Thanks for braving the elements with me, guys!
It was a pleasure to spend a fickle Frisian afternoon with the Benedictus family and their friends as they celebrated Jan and Tytsje's 40th wedding anniversary! I've done two family shoots with their daughter, Nynke, her partner and their daughters, but now I've covered just about the whole extended family. This was also the second time that my photography services have been given as an anniversary gift, which I'm a big advocate of. It may be a bit meta, but pictures are the way to look back on all the details and moments of celebrating life's momentous occasions. Fan herte lokwinske mei dyn houliksfeestje (of zoiets - mijn Fries is iets minder goed dan mijn Nederlands)!
Oh, man. An expressive, affectionate, playful bunch of people in a former sugar factory - plus water guns. These guys are the best! This is the second family shoot I've done with the Geelen family, and there are some new members of the crew since our last photo session a couple of years ago at the Suikerfabriek. That shoot ended in a pillow fight, so clearly we had to keep the tradition going: this time, the shoot culminated in a tiny, neon water gun battle on the roof of the factory.
It. Was. Awesome.
I'm grateful for whatever mysterious forces (or mutual friends) led to Rebecca giving me a call a few weeks ago about doing an engagement shoot for her and her fiancé, Nnadozie. This British-Nigerian couple has called Groningen home for the past couple of years, and our shoot was peak Dutch summer: billowing clouds giving way to sweeping patches of light and, inevitably, a serious downpour. Thankfully they had my umbrella in hand just as the rain really got going in earnest, and it was just in time for the very last pose of the shot. We played Dutch photo bingo: bikes and windmills made an appearance (all we were missing were some tulips). It was an adventure, and it was a pleasure. Thanks for finding me, guys!
He's here! This past weekend, I took the now familiar train journey to Enschede to meet Miranda and Richard's latest addition: Alexander. We all just goofed off together in the house on a warm afternoon (with periodic breaks for my glasses to defog and to snack on stroopwafels), mostly creating the "after" versions of the "before" shots that we got during my last visit. This post is a mix of portraits, candid moments and a couple of photo illustrations (diptychs and triptychs of photos we've taken over the months and years). Enjoy!
Back in April, I got to stroll around Amsterdam with Chiara and Daniel, a charmingly sarcastic couple from Italy while they were in the city to admire the tulips. Chiara is friends with a former client of mine, Stefano, whom I also photographed when he and his fiancee (also named Chiara, so don't get confused!) were visiting the Netherlands. Chiara told me that tulips are her favourite flowers, and since the Amsterdam Tulip Festival was underway for the second year in a row, she was in luck. We went for Amsterdam shoot photo bingo: bike? Check. Bridge? Check. Canal? Check. Tulips? Oh yes. It was a lot of fun getting to meet them and spend some time seeing the sites together.
It's always such a joy to do photo shoots with Miranda and her equally joyful family. Miranda has been my best non-Dutch friend in the Netherlands from pretty much the moment I arrived in our shared (decidedly crappy) student housing back in 2005. She is one of the warmest, happiest, most enthusiastic and honest humans I've ever had the pleasure to meet and had the even greater pleasure of calling my friend. I've gotten to do her maternity shoots for her first two energetic, smily kiddos, and their newborn sessions soon there after - the tradition continues, so part two of this shoot will be posted after baby number three makes his debut.
Floris en Nynke zijn een heel erg aardig (en fotogeniek) stel. Floris is eigenlijk een collega van mijn man, maar net zoals veel van zijn collega's, denk ik aan Floris inmiddels gewoon als een kennis van mij. Ik heb een fotoshoot met hun voor het eerst gedaan in 2014 toen Nynke zwanger was met Famke, en een tweede sessie hebben we samen gemaakt in 2016 - in de speeltuin voor mijn huis (super handig). Dus deze post is echter een combinatie van die twee shoots, maar ik vind het heel leuk om de groei van deze lieve kleine familie binnen een post te kunnen zien.
Inge and Helen are two of the best damn people ever. They're both brilliant academics, very thoughtful, charmingly self-effacing and very much in love with each other. And now, they have a preposterously adorable little girl, and I got another chance to spend some time with them and photograph them (along with Inge's immediate family) back in December. Hooray love.
Back in July, I got my favourite kind of email - a request from a fellow American (and southerner to boot) asking me if I could a photo shoot while she and her husband were visiting Europe. So last week, I had the pleasure of strolling through an unusually chilly Amsterdam with Abigail and Tim to take photos of them chilling with (but not in) the canals on the second to last day of their Eurotrip. Thanks for finding me, Abigail!
In June, I had the privilege of being the photographer for the super laid back (and therefore super enjoyable) wedding day of Martijn and Lianne. As of last week, I've been living in the Netherlands for five years, and in some ways, little has changed over that time: I already loved the photojournalistic approach to weddings, and I was also already committed to sharing the work that the Ideal Home shelter and training center in Nepal was doing with the support of the Dutch members of the Didi Foundation.
Now, five years on, my belief that a camera is the best conveyer of the emotions of a day still holds true, and Martijn and Lianne's wedding day was no exception. A couple of years ago already, I did a photoshoot with Lianne's family, and I loved everyone's ease and naturally open hearted and funny nature, and the photos were a very true reflection their personalities. For Lianne's wedding, she and her now husband kept that good natured happiness tradition alive: the couple really wanted to have a laid back, casual day to celebrate with their friends: after an intimate ceremony in the nearby town of Klein Wetsinge, the newlyweds and their guests headed into Groningen for a backyard barbecue, complete with a bride and groom "cake topper" atop a heaping plate of potato salad. The vibe throughout the whole day was very relaxed and joyful, which came as no surprise to me, knowing this bunch. Congratulations, Lianne and Martijn!
Back in May, Rebecca and Alain's crew and I romped around the Prinsenhof in Groningen as spring sprang. Since then, their third son, Leander, was born in July, and the family wanted to have another seasonal shoot in October, this time in the Hortus Haren. I love this location so much, especially the Chinese garden section with the loveliest fall colors in the north. We basically spent about an hour cracking each other up, and I spent another few hours laughing out loud as I made my way through the photo edit. This family is so sweet with each other too, so every shoot with them is just me getting to document them being their silly, loving selves.
This is an adorable, teeny tiny little old man named Jonah. I've been running into his mom, Judith, around the university for the past few years, and I actually ran into her right after Jonah had been born, when he was even tinier than he is in these photos. With all of his miniature blue clothing, he fit into the colour scheme of the house as if he was a detail that it needed to be complete. Judith pointed out his very prematurely receding hairline pretty much right away during the shoot, and from that point onward, I couldn't help but see a small, elderly gentleman. An awfully cute elderly gentleman, of course. Congratulations, Judith and Ton!
This is my fifth (!) shoot with Olya and her boys - well, my third with plural "boys" and my fifth with Olya and her oldest son, Casper. I had been wanting to do a shoot at this colorful, futuristic bus stop (yes, it's all so terribly glamorous) for years now, so when she told me she wanted a "strong-cool-urban-funky-girlpower-ish" shoot, this out-of-this-world spot in Hoogkerk immediately came to mind. After taking advantage of all the colors there, we headed over to the CiBoGa terrain for a few shots despite the persistent rain. Unlike our previous shoots, I made sure to take a few extra minutes to give Olya her own personal model shoot while the boys chased each other around.
Doing these shoots has been such a nice way to get to know Olya for a few hours at a time every few months, but when working with regular clients, of course you do come to understand each other as people through meeting regularly for a photo session and you choose to keep coming together because you click on a certain level. So it's work, but I do always consider it true quality time to hang out with my clients. Even though she's left the north for The Hague now, here's hoping that we can catch up during a shoot again soon :)
During this photo shoot, I had a revelation: intimate, at-home family sessions like this are my favorite kind of portrait work. The love and energy of weddings and engagement shoots are wonderful and I enjoy getting to capture a couple's feelings for one another at a special time in their lives, and other special occasions like graduation ceremonies and family reunions are also a privilege to photograph. But these family shoots are the closest thing to truly photojournalistic portraiture, because I feel that I am getting to simply document a slice of the every day lives of families as they grow.
This is the second newborn shoot I have done with Bryn and Cees - their son, Tobin, has turned out to be a charming, talkative little guy, and he's also just become a big brother to a new sister, Dide. We had to recreate a couple of shots from Tobin's shoot - Bryn and Cees have a print of one of their favorite photos from the shoot with Tobin hanging up in their dining room, so it only seemed logical to have Cees re-enact that shot with Dide, too. And, of course, placing young babies into bookshelves (the diptych photo in the gallery below has Tobin and Dide side by side) has now become one of my signature shots :)
In the lingering fog of my jet lag after returning from a two week North America trip, I caught a couple of trains to Amsterdam to meet up with Katie and her fiancee Max for a photo shoot. They're getting married next year and they were spending the last day of their European vacation (they're both from L.A.) wandering the canals and bridges of the city while I got to know them - Katie found me online, so thanks Google for making this happen. As always, it was lovely getting to use Amsterdam's streets as the backdrop for a shoot with a fun international couple.
I have some smart friends, you guys. Naomi asked me to be the photographer for her PhD ceremony last month in the aula of the Academy Building at the University of Groningen, which is always a spectacular setting to photograph. Prior to the defense, which lasts exactly an hour and during which no photos can be taken lest the clicking distract the candidate, Naomi and her paranymphs - her husband Tom and her friend and colleague Steffie - hung out in the "zweetkamer": the sweat room. Naomi defended her doctoral thesis - "On the nature and origin of self-esteem: A complex dynamic systems perspective of nested self-esteem phenomena" - with confidence and aplomb, and I always enjoy "photographing" PhD ceremonies because I get to learn about academic fields which are often unfamiliar to me. Her work was fascinating, comprehensible for non-experts like myself, and her doctorate was well deserved. Congratulations, Naomi!
These two are awesome. Inge and Helen are two of my favorite people on the planet and among a handful of people that I am willing to travel across continents to hang out with, which Elger and I just did last week when we visited them in Toronto. They got married at the spiffy, modern city hall of Lochem in the Netherlands on a bright blue day in May surrounded by their closest family members and a couple of friends, then had their reception in the back yard of Inge's dad's home in a nearby town. A couple of chickens and pigs were also guests at the reception, but they didn't exactly dress for the occasion. It was intimate, personal, warm and laid back - everything a wedding day should be. Congratulations once again, ladies, and thank you so much for letting me be a part of this beautiful day.
I love my friends, even more so when they're returning customers :) Each photo shoot I do with this growing family is more fun and nutty than the last, and I wouldn't have it any other way. Rebecca and Alain's third son will be arriving early in the summer, so we headed to the Prinsentuin during the May vacation week to let their little guys run around and for Rebecca and I to laugh hysterically as Alain chased after them. Thanks for another fun shoot, guys - and happy mother's day!
Two of my favorite human beings have done it again: they've just had their second child, a beautiful and very serene little girl named Hasse. I've been lucky enough to photograph these two and their growing family four times over the past five years, and I always love adding a camera to the mix of our interactions. They just love each other and make each other laugh, and I take some photos of them being themselves, and the results always make me happy. One of the photos from this shoot actually made me tear up as I was editing it - not because I'm such a spectacular photographer, but because the love between mother and daughter just came shining and radiating out of the frame so purely. Thank you guys again, as always, for letting me be the one to document your lives!