Here you can read what's keeping me busy.
"Painted post-mortem stains"
Forensics is a silver bullet, but it's also hard work.
Jeroen Hofman followed students during their training.
"They must focus on looking, listening and smelling. And presume nothing."
There she lies. On a shelf, in her underwear, with a baby on her head. Around her, mannequins just like her, mostly naked. Perhaps this image best shows how common, how trivial research into a violent death can be. "I was most intrigued by the pink Crocs on her feet," says photographer Jeroen Hofman. "People at the Police Academy no longer notice such things. Although they do cover up the child-mannequins when there are visitors. Apparently that would be too confronting." He was allowed to photograph at the Netherlands Forensic Institute (NFI) and the Police Academy in Apeldoorn and Ossendrecht. This has produced sterile, macabre and alienating scenes. Take the body on the inspection table. Look closely at the post-mortem stains. Those have been painted on. Not a mannequin, but a real person it turns out. All done to make things as realistic as possible. The man in the grey underpants had posed for the photographer just moments earlier standing upright. There's a knife in his back. "This was a real case, a robbery-homicide," says Hofman, "afterwards, the knife was taken out of… ehm… taken off of his back before getting on the inspection table." When the photographer later showed his work to the actors, some found it confronting. "They were impressed by its authenticity." He found it creepy himself: "there you are, photographing a "corpse" which a second later gets up off the inspection table. Truly zombie-like. But none of the people there joked about it. It's serious business, not a puppet show."
Forensics is a silver bullet. Detection is becoming increasingly accurate thanks to the power of computers and a growing insight into the uniqueness of human DNA. But in the end it's also down to hard work and "old-fashioned" detective work. Hofman was surprised at how carefully these future detectives go about their work. How at all times they try to avoid contamination of the crime scene. Look at the photograph with the plastic stepping plates, which the detective uses to enter the room without leaving shoe prints. Dressed in the iconic white suit, surgical mask and hair net, he's taking a picture with a 3D-camera. With it, he can create an extremely realistic computer model of the crime scene which can be used again and again in answering research questions. What was the exact location of the furniture? Did the suspect have enough room to lash out with the knife? What does the bloodstain pattern look like? Hofman witnessed how these future detectives do their utmost to get as close to reality as possible. In the grounds of the Police Academy in Apeldoorn for instance, plastic skeletons covered with animal meat are buried. After three months students are given the task of finding the location of these "corpses", using prickers amongst other things. During all these operations, above all, they must focus on looking, listening and smelling," Hofman knows. "And presume nothing. They must take care not to be led astray by their imagination."
My new studio space in the centre of Amsterdam is finally ready! I've found an old office on the ground floor of a former elementary school which is nice and bright and with enough space to do smaller portrait assignments. If I need to work in a bigger studio for a specific project I can easily rent a larger space somewhere in town. New address is Kraijenhoffstraat 135-B, Amsterdam.
Since 1972 the The Amsterdam Fund for the Arts together with the Amsterdam City Archives have commissioned photographers to document the city and its population. The concept: to create a socially significant 'portrait of the times' through the medium of artistic photography. Every year three projects are selected to receive a ten thousand Euro subsidy each. I'm very pleased to announce that this year my project AMSTERDAM PARK is amongst those selected.
Parks are of tremendous importance to the city of Amsterdam. They are the city's 'green lungs'. Not only do they provide 'breathing space' by functioning as collective backyards for the otherwise cramped-for-space 'Amsterdammers', they also cater to many of their other needs in such areas as Sports, Recreation and Nature. With people from many different cultural backgrounds (and different generations) using them for a myriad of activities, the city's parks have become colorful mosaics.
I'm fascinated with documenting man-made landscapes (and what happens within their boundaries) from high above. This method produces an intriguing juxtaposition as it creates both a sense of anonymity through distance and a sense of intimacy with the subjects who are caught completely off guard. The end result is the park and its familiar landmarks as it's never been seen before; a picture which offers endless new patterns and details to be discovered by the viewer. At the same time this bird's-eye-view method connects urban life, capturing the 'Zeitgeist' by literally putting things into perspective.
As in my previous project PLAYGROUND, in PARK I will once again be photographing from an elevated position. This time however, I will add another dimension: I'm going to zoom in by descending to ground level and will combine the landscapes with detailed (family) portraits to create a complete document of the cultural melting pot which is the AMSTERDAM PARK.
I recently made documentary photographs for a story Laura Stek did for 'Vrij Nederland' about Arrahil ('going on a journey'), the first funeral company specialized in Islamic burials. Roughly ninety-five percent of deceased Muslims are repatriated to their country of origin. Associate director Mohamed Ben Abdallah: "We're busier than ever. In the first year we had about a hundred deceased, now [some four years later] we reach that number in just three months. Autumn has really come."
By 'autumn' he means the dying-out of the first generation of Dutch Muslims; the migrant workers from Turkey and Morocco who came to the Netherlands during the sixties and seventies. Virtually all of them want an Islamic funeral which differs from a Dutch funeral in a number of crucial ways. Cremation for instance is unheard of: if Ben Abdallah and his colleagues get wind of a Muslim wanting to be cremated they move heaven and earth to convince relatives to have that person buried in accordance with Islamic customs, even if it means helping to pay for it with their own money. An important reason for why the majority of Muslims in the Netherlands want to be repatriated to their country of origin after death is that 'eternal rest' in a grave -as prescribed by Islam- is virtually impossible in the Netherlands: "It's a great place to live, but not to be buried", says Ben Abdallah.
Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer nowadays. In ten years time the number of cases of skin cancer in the Netherlands has almost tripled and it's expected that that number will increase dramatically over the coming years. Irresponsible sunbathing increases the risk of skin cancer and melanoma; its most aggressive form.
On the 21st of March, Stichting Melanoom (the Melanoma Foundation) began an awareness campaign "Protect yourself, check yourself" to point out to young people the serious potential health risks of sunburn.
Additionally an ad campaign conceived and produced by photographer Jeroen Hofman and JongeMeesters is being launched. This campaign aims to get rid of the common myths about sun protection and focuses on the importance of frequent application of sunscreen with a high SPF and staying out of the sun.
Piet Boon for Surface magazine
The prestigious Surface magazine asked me to photograph Piet Boon for their issue 'The Legends'. With an international team headquartered in New York, Surface is the definitive American voice of global contemporary design. Piet Boon in his turn is one of the most renowned Dutch furniture- and interior designers: having started out as a contractor, he now not only designs interior design products, but also houses and even entire neighborhoods. Piet Boon's recent total design concept 'Huys' at 404 Park Avenue South in New York City has gained international recognition. The seventeen story office building was completely transformed into a luxury residential building with Piet Boon responsible for everything from exterior design down to accessories.
Four elderly men for L'Homo
For L'Homo, an annual Linda Magazine publication, I took portraits of four prominent, elderly, gay men, all highly respected in their individual fields: choreographer Hans Van Manen, fashion designer Frans Molenaar, director and choreographer Frank Sanders and restaurant proprietor Joop Braakhekke share how they're coping with old age and its limitations. All four men show great humor and resilience, and their powerful charisma makes me realize how much they've contributed to the acceptance of homosexuality during a time when this was not yet self-evident.
Apart from my personal photography I work for various magazines and large advertising agencies both at home and abroad. My clients range from large companies like Toyota to small charities. I’m often hired for assignments that are in line with the documentary content and esthetic form by which my personal work are characterized. I’m most often commissioned to do portraits although ever since my project Playground I’ve been doing more and more interior photography as well as landscapes. It used to be taboo to do any commercial photography in addition to personal work, but I see those boundaries fading. There are plenty of excellent examples of UK photographers who are successful in both fields.
My new site is online! It's not simply a static portfolio site, but a place where you can really follow my photography work. You do not only get to see the end result and like or save images, but you also get to see the making of (moving) images, my personal stories and selections.
FORENSICS, the kick off!
With my new project FORENSICS I have set myself the task of mapping the broad spectrum of science and technology that is used for finding out the truth in criminal investigations. The Netherlands lead the way in new forensic methods and techniques allowing for ever more effective and efficient investigating. But what exactly is forensic science? Where and how are specialists trained and how is their knowledge applied at crime scenes? Where does the work of the forensic scientist start and that of law enforcement end? What forensic techniques are at the scientist's disposal? From cold cases, bloodstain pattern analysis and suspect profiling to DNA research and the work of the pathologist: I bring you the full story.