My life started in Belgium. But thanks to my nomadic parents, my world has been a wonderful mixture of East, West, North and South.
Perhaps the extraordinary sights that were so normal in my childhood persuaded me to study photography and perhaps that’s when my education really began. Art College in England was a time to immerse myself in the vast world of the image. I learned not just to see with my eyes, but also to feel with them, to develop my own style. After college I stumbled into advertising, earned some money, yet felt frustrated.
Three years later, along with a friend, I bought an old jeep, left Belgium and headed east. The journey lasted two years. The Jeep took us 80, 000km, through Central Asia and Africa. The money (or lack of it) forced us to lead a simple life. This was a time to drift and appreciate the countries that nourished our eyes. I took photographs when it felt right, capturing faces and places, not quite knowing where my work was going. In retrospect, that trip feels like the start of the way I see things today.
I have often been attracted to ‘un-western’ countries. A certain essential energy shines through everything where the spiritual far outweighs the material.
I’m interested in the poetic character of things; in the small, seemingly unimportant things. There’s a hidden beauty in the ordinary and great beauty in the overlooked.
In 2004 I went back to Brussels to save up for my next trip. A short three years later my bag was ready, loaded with film, my Hasselblad, an 80mm lens and a few other essentials. In 2007 I headed for Madagascar, traveling alone for the first time. My mind was full of thoughts. I traveled by bus, foot, and ox cart, taking time to observe in silence. Many paradoxes fascinated me. Little things are big. Less is more. Imperfection is perfect. After 3 months I met Fidisoa, without whom many things wouldn't have been possible. He understood the nuances of the way I wanted to travel and work. We wondered in search of IMPERFECTION, trying to be open to all of life’s wonderful little quirks.
In 2008 I embarked on a new project with my father. I would do the traveling and photography and he would do the graphic design and conception. The idea was to bring together a beautiful book about football in Africa. This book would not be just about football, or indeed about football in Africa. It would be a book that tries to capture the beauty and strength of the human spirit. It would pay homage to Africa. It would be a tribute to the forgotten, to the majority. All the people who live and remain in the shadow of the World Cup deserved to have a light shone on them, not just for their passion for the game, but more so for the fundamental energy and enthusiasm that shines through the way they live.
Eight months were spent in 10 different countries on the continent. A big part of the adventure was self-publishing the book. AMEN as it was called lead to my first solo exhibitions in South Africa and Belgium, as well as numerous articles in the press worldwide.
Shortly after the World Cup in South Africa in 2010, I fell madly in love. Very quickly Sebastien and I were married and in the next 5 years three little boys became part of our tribe. My life changed drastically. I went from being free as the wind, disorganized with only myself to think about, to a life where one plans a little more and where others come first.
No more big trips for now but little journeys through daily life with children, appreciating the small joys. That is actually a project in itself.
My fascination still lies in the imperfections and fragilities of life … particularly in families, the beautiful chaos of life behind closed doors. The laughter, the tears, the mess, the dirt, the screams, the fatigue, the small joys, the giggles, the washing … that is the life that makes me smile … real life. Not the superficially perfect, smooth image that most want to project. If I had one dream now in 2017 it would be that families contact me to come and live with them for a week and photograph their daily life.
I’ve been able to get my teeth into one serious project since my boys were born. It’s the story of a man who lost his memory, of his family who accompanies him and of a photographer who follows them. Eric, who was married with 4 children, had been ill for almost 10 years. I started photographing Eric and his family just before he left home to live in a nursing home. That was 2 years before his death. I would visit him once a week with a member of the family. It was my first relationship without words, my first project without a goal … letting go, floating and taking one step at a time. Like my other work, this it is about imperfection and fragility yet also celebrates the strength and optimism needed to make a castle out of rubble.
Photography has become an inseparable part of my life over the last 10 years, and, yes I’m hoping to get noticed. Then, with any luck, I can leave a small trace of my ideas.