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Henk van Kooten

Henk Van Kooten


Name: Henk van Kooten

Born: November 14, 1962, the Netherlands
Relationship: Married in 1985
Children: Father of four daughters
Training in photography: School of Photography Apeldoorn, but mostly self-taught.

I was born and raised in the small town of Veenendaal.
I have three brothers, one of whom is my identical twin, and one younger sister. My childhood formed me into the person I am today.

About Henk

After secondary school, where I learned a lot, I was unsure of my further direction in life. This led to my having had a few different occupations: physiotherapy, psychiatric nursing, social work, setting up a workshop for the unemployed, mending and selling old furniture and toys, etc.
I decided to go to the University Hospital in Nijmegen to become a nurse and pursued that career for a long time. It was during this period that I met my wife, Christina and when our relationship began. We were married and were fortunate enough to have four beautiful, healthy daughters.


I worked as a nurse for a total of 14 years. During this time, I worked for a local photographer on a freelance basis for 8 years.
I was working in two completely different worlds, but there was also some common ground between the two. In the hospital I learned to see a patient as a psycho-socio-somatic synthesis. I learned to recognize emotions and how to deal with them. I learned how to look into their eyes and understand how they felt, and observed their body language. This training has been very useful in my photography.
I then decided to open my own studio in the town centre of Nijmegen in 1997, after 8 years of balancing my two careers. I finally felt free to do things my own way.
After a one-day seminar in marketing and lighting technology by the then BIPP photographer Leen Koper, I made a giant leap forward. I discovered and created new paths of exploration.

Personal style

I was told I had distinct style of my own, which was seen as something completely new across the globe. This was something I could not get my head around at the time. I feel that defining one’s personal style is something others impose upon you. I just did what I loved to do and what I thought I should be doing. Luckily, my customers appreciated the way I did things; maybe in this way they even developed some part of my present style, since they were the source of my inspiration. My point of departure is that people should be able to create their own personal space; they can be who they are and feel respected for who they are.

Photography as reflection

Photography is a non-verbal form of communication.
The final result should, I think, be called Art. And Art is in turn a reflection of one’s soul. Art is envisaging to convey a language that people can feel.

The move

We moved from the centre of Nijmegen to a new studio in the industrial area of Wijchen, about 10 kilometres from the town centre in late 2003. The unsure boy that I was had to start believing in something bigger than himself. I did this by giving workshops, master classes and lectures across Europe and the United States. Being part of the XXV in the U.S. was something I had hoped would launch my work in America and especially New York. I had already worked in Albuquerque, New Mexico, so I was ready for the real deal. However, my children’s education was more important. They are now of the age that they are becoming more and more self-sufficient. This year 2017 we will move to a new space again. Since ou youngest child moved in her own house, we have no more need in the combination of Studio an home in one place. We will move to the new studio the 1rst of June 2017. Phtoggraphy will be phocussing on: Photographic Art for people at home, family photography as a story.


After opening my own studio and joining the British Institute of Professional Photography (BIPP), I started working on gaining qualification through the Institute. To my amazement I got my Fellowship within 1.5 years. A spectacular result.
I won numerous awards, including the International Wedding Photographer of the Year Awards twice, the Lichfield Award (for the most creative use of people), the BIPP ‘Overseas Wedding’, ‘Fashion and Glamour’, ‘Commercial’ and ‘Overall Photographer of the Year 2004’.
I joined the MPA (Master Photographers Association) and obtained my Fellowship there.
At the time I felt that was enough, but discovered that a new qualification was being set up in Europe. Carrying out a trade through education, judging and mentoring has become an essential part of our business.
I gained three qualifications within the European Federation in Fashion, Portrait and Wedding photography. A year later I was the first Dutch photographer, and the sixth in Europe, to gain the title of Master Qualified European Photographer with a series of 20 photographs on the theme of ‘Disappearing’.

Achievements, Associations and more...

I became a member of the PPA in America in 2007 and in 2009 I also joined the Spanish Association FEPFI. In 2010 I was awarded an honorary fellowship of the Irish Photographers Association (FIPPA) which automatically also makes me a member of the Irish Union. This is due to the fact that I have judged and given workshops in Ireland.
Currently, I am the Chairman of the Master Photographers Association (MPA, with 1800 members) Judging/Qualification 2010/2011. This is a highly respectable position with great responsibilities and I am proud to have been the President of the MPA (2010-2011).
Following a request from the BPP (Bund Professioneller Potraitfotografen), I developed and launched a new qualification system in Germany. So as to get the system up and running well, I was also asked to be the Chairman of this new qualification body of jurors. I am also part of the FEP Judging (Federation of European Photographers) in Brussels.
Giving critique and judging takes up a significant portion of my time. I love doing this, as it is good to encourage and inspire people and give them greater self-confidence.
I see making mistakes , taking risks and making last-minute decisions in photography as a necessity. I try to be open-minded, as I want to see people as they are.

Dutch School of Photography

A logical result of these steps is that we have started a ‘school’, to offer further training to professional photographers. As we put it in our programme: “learning in a different way.” An example from our course is the study of dance and working together with a choreographer to better understand the meaning of expression and body language.
Sources of inspiration
A source of inspiration can be an object, a person or an event from which the artist can draw inspiration.
My sources of inspiration are: architectonic buildings, people, ballet dance, music, sports and commercials as well as history, love, life and death.
I think in images and visualize almost everything my senses perceive.
A lot of what people attribute to my creativity, is like simple arithmetic to me.


We also work for charities:

Kids Rights, for children in Africa.
The Children’s Hospital in Nijmegen
Supporting a bicycle tour through the Alpe d’Huez to raise funds for cancer, Pink Ribbon, Ruby & Rose.
Ruby & Rose, for research and treatment of cervical cancer.

But my story is not over. I keep growing and evolving. Every day brings new ideas. I am a very happy person, never satisfied, always complaining but also laughing.
Some say that I can ‘read’ people. I can see pain in someone’s face, understand their body language, see the story of their life in their face. This guides me in choosing the lighting, composition and so on. It makes me think.
Creating something is more than just a design. It is having a vision and looking forward to the effects and the results of what I do.

The origin, the originality. The purest me.

Professional Magazine England
(by Ray Lowe) :
To be a customer of Henk’s must
be a privilege, the same as it would
have been to be a customer of
Michelangelo or Renoir, but I really
hope he gets his just reward before
he becomes immortal! Henk’s
portraits will in years to come be
regarded as some of the best photographic
art of the 21st century.