An awfully honest post here. Crazy as it sounds, I've always said that I’d rather live to be only forty years old —truly living and doing what I love— than reaching the respectful age of eighty or even ninety, eventually laying on my death bed, filled with regret saying or thinking “Oh - I wish I had done 'this' or 'that'…”. I still feel this way, but I have left that way of living behind, for some time now. And truth be told, it does not make me happy. It often feels as if I've left a part of me behind somewhere.
For a while, probably when I was around 25, I didn’t think I’d even reach my forties (I'm 38 now). By then, I had nearly drowned, survived a blizzard high in the mountains of Alaska, a plane crash, was nearly bitten by a Black mamba and more such things, during film and mainly photography assignments. And I’ve come to the conclusion that I actually ‘need’ these kinds of moments in my life. Don't get me wrong: I'm not an adrenaline junkie. I'm a big advocate for not taking unnecessary risks and to always pursue these 'adventurous' endeavours in the most responsible ways possible, which sometimes simply does involve risk taking, but in an educated, well researched and prepared manner. It also depends on the project. For me, there needs to be a proper reason to take certain risks, a story worth telling, for instance.
In any case, these are the moments that not only make me feel more alive on a personal level, but they also insure that I’m at my very best when it comes to, let’s say, photography or storytelling in general: a setting, a certain environment that is different than back home. It is that kind of difference I need in my work as a photographer and filmmaker. I’m more in the moment when I’m traveling, hiking, climbing, meeting different cultures, working with people that are intrinsically motivated and like-minded, especially in areas that are rough and daunting to get through. These are also the places for me, where the most interesting stories are to be told. Stories that don't always see the light of day - but (in my humble opinion) should be. And all the while working with people you trust through and through.
Master of Science & teaching job
Currently I’m pursuing a Master of Science. I successfully passed the first year with flying colours (Yay! 🤓), but I also took up a job as a teacher in a Bachelor course called ‘Creative Business’. Even though I love working with students, the educational system of this course (maybe all?) is so bad that you can, for instance, only offer quantitive feedback instead of qualitative. There’s simply too many students and not enough teachers, so the tasks you have to do are so diverse you can never give a 100% to any of them. This goes against all my principles as a person, resulting in 50-60 hour work weeks (sitting mainly behind a screen) excluding the master (another 20-25 hours a week, also mainly behind a screen). This went on the entire year (it’s now summer break, so I get to reflect on it for a bit).
During the second semester of my master, we had to create a short two minute video that contained our personal vision on Sustainable Development, based on many books we had to read and our own perception of it, both as design researchers and from the perspective of our own profession(s). I’ve shared the video below (please forgive the overall quality, it had to be made very fast due to lack of time). Since it’s in Dutch, I’ve taken the liberty of writing English subtitles for it.
Thanks to developing this first vision on Sustainable Development, I’ve come back to where my core values lie. And once again I know what I want to do. Things I’ve always been doing, but now with a new focus —a reframe, if you will— that contains projects based around poverty, inequality and nature conservation. Projects that are linked to sustainable development in a broad sense. I’m sure my skills in VR, AR, photography and video/film can be put to use in various cases — and I can not wait to find them.
There's still so many things to do and explore. I've stood on mountains, walked deserts and jungles, while creating visual stories, but one of the things I have never done (yet) is diving. I'd love to learn how to dive and eventually create underwater content (stories that make you think) as well. This is becoming a personal goal for me right now for the upcoming years, albeit an expensive one.
What Matters to YOU?
Now that I know (again) the things that matter to me and what I want to do, I wonder how many other people don’t do what they want to do in life. So, What makes you happy? Where do your talents lie? Can you find a way to combine those two? What is it you want to give (back) to the world?
Find it, explore it, do it. You owe it to yourself and possibly to the world, making it a better place. And since all of us only live once. Make it count 😊
As always: happy shooting! 📷