Haarlem Jazz '18 - Event photography

I have been the main photographer for the event Haarlem Jazz for quite some time now. From the start it has been an honor to be able to do this big event, in my hometown. 

Being an event photographer, taking photos of an event, still remains one of the most special things to do in this profession. Because it shows exactly where the photographers looks at, what draws their interests, and what thrives their emotional state at that particular moment.

When seeing past the regular photos of artist almost all event photographers know how to do well, you start to see individuality. Which angles are being chosen for overviews? What kind of people are selected to showcase the emotional mood of the event? What particular moments of those people are chosen? 

The fun thing is, every photographer puts a little of himself in every photo he or she takes. Fact. But. Event photography is one of the few work related photography types that actually makes it really visible for the outside world.

At every (public) event photographers attend there are so many things happening around him or her. SO MANY. What you choose to capture as a photographer defines you as a person. It's not as plain and simple that if you only take photos of smiling and happy people (which you probably should, for almost every client) you are the happiest person alive. It takes some time to unravel the why's and how's of the moment you choose. But it's a fascinating thing. Photography. A mirror of your inner self. 

Take a little look at my mirror :)

Factory men - Black & White series

I did an assignment for Warp Industries, they offer amazing solutions for VR trainings. During one of my assignments for Warp, I visited a factory where they forge steel. Working men have always fascinated me, during my work for Warp I took some free shots.

Trailer documentary "Longing"

Here it is! The trailer of my documentary called "Longing". Later this year I will post the full video.

Director: Edo Landwehr
Producer: Yara El Moussaoui
Story: Edo Landwehr & Zita Luiten

We are currently entering the eight year of the Syrian conflict, with no clear end in sight. The documentary film “Longing” tells the story of a group of young active people with the dream to build peace in Syria. A story of a project named after the people who participate, ‘Active Voices’, that shows the strengths, vulnerabilities and power of Syrians and the people who work with them. It follows the stories of Syrians in Europe and the Middle East and unravels the difficulties they face on a daily basis. There is an emerging gap between Syrians due to the fact they have spread all over the world and are experiencing different contexts. There is also the challenge, for Syrians who moved abroad, to build a new life in their host community. This documentary shows this two-sided challenge from the perspective of the active voices themselves. Listen to their voices, hear their stories and feel their power. They’re longing for peace, but more than that, they are longing for hope. Hope to build a better Syria in the future. Together.

A day with Rondé

 The band Rondé is a rising star in the dutch music scene, they just started their clubtour in the Netherlands last week. I was present at their first performance in the  Tolhuistuin , also known as Paradiso-north.   I decided to start when the band arrived at Paradiso, not just when their performance started.  I wanted to show a little bit more then just the regular showphotos. Right before we started dinner, I also had the chance to take some portrait photos.    

The band Rondé is a rising star in the dutch music scene, they just started their clubtour in the Netherlands last week. I was present at their first performance in the Tolhuistuin, also known as Paradiso-north. 

I decided to start when the band arrived at Paradiso, not just when their performance started.  I wanted to show a little bit more then just the regular showphotos. Right before we started dinner, I also had the chance to take some portrait photos. 


My first billboard

My first billboard was shown in an important business sector of Amsterdam, near the A10. It was shot for an organisation called Toogethr. A nice initiative to promote sharing rides to get to work. 

Everything is shot with the Sony A7Rii, with broncolor light.

New lens: Carl Zeiss batis 18mm f2.8

I have been looking for a prime lens in the wide range for some time now. . I have always used a 16-35 for all the wide work I needed to do, mostly landscapes, architectual work and interior design. This has been the case since I started shooting, with Canon, 6 years ago.

Last couple of years, whenever I shoot events (weddings and other events involving people)  I have been using a 35mm lens (When I used canon I had sigma f/1.4, with Sony I use the RX1RII). Last year I felt the urge to add more drama to my shots, go wider, and I started using my 16-35 for event work as well. Considering the fact I am a prime lens geek, this was kinda off, so I started looking for alternatives. I have considered multiple options, like the CarlZeiss 24mm, and the SamYang 14 and 24mm. I was not convinced. Then I found the CarlZeiss Batis 18mm, f/2.8. WOW. 

Immediately, convinced. If you're looking for a wide lens in the area of 14mm - 24mm, for Sony E-mount, this is the one you want. This lens is off the chart, in every way. It's fast, CRAZY sharp and beautifully coloured. This lens gives you the feeling you are using something special. And if you love you're loving your prime lenses even remotely similar to how much I do, you're going to fall in love with this lens, as much as I do. If you're looking for something special, the relatively high price is very worth it. 

Looking forward to shooting  the first events with this lens, will post more when available. 

International women's day

On International Women’s Day #IWD2017, we celebrate not only the visible women leaders, but also the less visible voices of empowerment. Meet Manal from Idlib, Syria.
This powerwoman lives in a refugee camp in Bekaa Valley, Lebanon, with her husband, daughters and grandchildren.

For 5 years, she’s been living here.

Every day, is a fight.

She and her family have to pay about $100 US dollar a month to live in a tent, in a camp with an open sewer system.

Every month, they battle to have a roof over their heads, and food in their mouths.

Every day, she fights for her family.

Every day, she is a powerwoman.









Meet her powerful daughter:

This powerwoman lives in a camp in Bekaa Valley, with her parents and her children. At the age of only 22, she has a four month old son Moustafa, living in a tent with her extended family. Her fight for a better future for herself, but mostly her children, is a daily fight. She is finishing her BA in Philosophy, because she believes that her education will change her baby’s entire life. An educated woman, can create a lifeline of development.

Every day, she fights for her children’s future.

Every day, she is a powerwoman.

Text © Zita Luiten

A child's dream

Together with Zita I visited these Syrian children in Shatila refugee camp in Beirut. The camp was originally set up for 3000 Palestinians, but it now houses over 25000 refugees, many of them Syrians. This poor camp with it’s dismantled apartments is basically outside of Lebanese police control, and is completely run by gangs.

Many of these traumatized Syrian child refugees turn to gangs at a young age and leave schools. BeFriendMe is an initiative that utilizes classical music, yoga and creativity to channel their traumas into something a bit more positive, and to keep them away from criminality. 

Besides the traumas they have encountered and continue to encounter, these kids and their parents don’t have any legal documentation. Through Lebanese regulations, this keeps them from having any job, and it means children can’t get their school diploma. They can still go to a school after school hours, but they can’t participate in any exams, let alone get an official diploma. 

In a situation that seems to have little future, we wondered what these kids dream of. What they want to become in the future. And we found out… They still dream big. Check it out for yourself.

Ayham Chokhadar – 10 years

Aya Khatab – 11 years

Walaa Amin – 9 years
Bollywood Movie Director

Mohammed Atal – 13 years

Mohammed Khatab – 9 years
Defend his country

Raghad – 4 years
Don’t know

Emad Abdul – 9 years

Natek Attar – 11 years

Shahed Ghlef - 9 years

 Hassan Hadad – 7 years Catch fish & open a fish market

Hassan Hadad – 7 years
Catch fish & open a fish market

Houda Ahdad – 5 years
Teacher (Miss)

Hamsab Azmeh – 9 years

Rahma Azmeh – 8 years

Hiba Haldat – 11 years
Heart Doctor

Workshop: Active voices of Syria

Syria, the country that is falling apart. Weve all heard the terrible stories and seen the horrifying suffering. But until I met Hodday, I have not really experienced the positivity and power of the Syrians themselves. I met Hodday during Merit360 in New York where his story impressed me, where the horrible things he experienced horrified me but mostly where his positive vibe enlightened me. Coming back home, I immediately felt like I wanted to get involved. Only a week later I got to meet Abir, the co-founder of Mobaderoon and a group called "Active Voices".  What they do comes down to the following;

In light of the ongoing conflict in Syria and the high number of Syrians leaving the country because of it, it is necessary to establish a network that aims to support and build trust and understanding between the Syrian diaspora, host communities, and Syrians in Syria.

I met Abir on the day prior to the workshop. She currently has a house in Lebanon, but lived in Damascus until 2013. She told me she keeps the key to her home in Damascus in her wallet, and it will come out whenever she is able to go home. Until then, Lebanon is not much more than a place to stay. Remarkably enough, she doesn't even own a set of keys to the place where she lives, because she doesn't want to get used to calling it home. Home is in Syria, and however challenging the situation will become, she will fight for her right to go home, someday. 

The "Active Voices" workshop the following day was filled with Syrian people living in various areas in Holland. I spoke to a teacher from Assen, a doctor from Groningen and a mechanical engineer from Rotterdam. We started with introductions in three languages, I was actually surprised about how good their knowledge of the dutch language was. 

They talked about themselves, where they came from, where they currently live, and about their future. They talked about misconceptions, getting used to Holland and about what change they can bring, together.

At one point, they were asked to do an exercise. The group held a rope and was instructed to form a square having their eyes closed and not being allowed to speak. They were able to comment afterwards, this is the one that made an impact on me;

"While we felt restrained by a higher power, the most important thing is that we did not fall apart"

360 ° of Life: Rose

They say life is art and it's clear from the get go that Rose Mmbaga lives hers in colour. However, it's not just her beautiful bright clothing that makes her so vibrant.

When World Merit set a competition asking Merit360 hopefuls to distribute 200 surveys regarding how the UN is perceived, Rose went one step further and reached over 1,000 people in her home country of Tanzania, Africa.

This achievement won her the opportunity to deliver a speech at the United Nations, an opportunity she used to raise awareness around SDG 13, Climate Action, and to encourage further representation for Tanzanian women within the UN.

Climate Action is a topic very close to Rose's heart as 75% of Tanzania's economy is dependent on agriculture which can easily be destroyed with extreme heat. 

Rose told Merit360: "when our agriculture is affected women in the community are normally affected most. While doing my surveys I realised now is the time to advocate for climate action."

It doesn't come as a shock to learn Rose is not nervous to deliver her speech, on the contrary she's eager to bring her charisma to the UN stage.

After studying sociology at St Augustine University of Tanzania, she is now a senior marketing and communications officer for Raleigh International, an organisation which aims to connect communities with passionate changemakers.

After Merit360 Rose has been invited by International Labour Organisation (ILO) to speak about her experience back home in Tanzania and in Nairobi, Kenya. Her main aim in life is to give women a voice within the UN, she said: "I'd like to be an ambassador for Tanzanian women, and an example to them that anything is possible if you try."

In her spare time Rose endorses tourism in Tanzania by attracting people to visit Mount Kilimanjaro, as well as supporting her single mother with her clothing line by buying her creations, modelling them and selling them to other fashion enthusiasts.

Click on the photos for a better view 

Text: Rochelle Beighton


360 ° of Life: Tatiana

It's not often that ambition and compassion come together harmoniously yet Tatiana Sharpe has successfully managed to balance both since childhood.

Being born and raised in Zimbabwe, Southern Africa, Tatiana has always been exposed to injustice and vast differences in society that have fueled her passion to help others; making joining SDG 16 - Peace, Justice & Strong Institutions an easy decision.

At just eight years old she decided to help underprivileged children by writing and illustrating her own non profit book called The Lonely Tiger, which follows a tiger's journey to find friendship. 

As well as its proceeds going towards providing children with textbooks and food, the book taught them to always be a friend to those in need.

Tatiana told Merit360: "I remember at five years old going with my mum and giving out clothes and food in orphanages. At the time I was an only child and they were the closest thing to brothers and sisters I had." 

Proving good things come in small packages Tatiana continued her charity work by creating a partnership with the youth parliament of Zimbabwe at the age of 14.

This marked the beginning of her own trust called Tariro Nevana (Hope for the children) which aims to give a hand up, rather than a handout, to children who were living on the streets.

Putting her trust on hold to finish her degree in International Relations at King's College London, Tatiana hopes to continue her work in the future by setting up a sanitary system for the children and providing them with camping sets.

At just 20 years old Tatiana exudes self assurance and dreams of establishing her own advisory law firm which works with states to create change through a better understanding of diplomacy.

Above all Tatiana believes everything happens for a reason as she was originally on a path to becoming a professional ballroom dancer before her partner, Junior Gwap, tragically died in a car accident.

She said: "it was very difficult for me to even think about dancing for a long time, I couldn’t picture dancing with anyone else, but I soon realized my education in International Relations was very important to me and now I'm here today at Merit360."

"I know he wouldn’t have wanted me to stop dancing and so I've started dancing againin London, I hope to dance in his name for as long as I physically can."

 Text: Rochelle Beighton
Click on the photos for a better view