The new Nikon European Ambassador Programme aims to encourage others to take the next step in photography, by working with some of the world’s best photographers to showcase their individual styles, technical approach and imagery. We are delighted to introduce Kadir van Lohuizen as one of our newly appointed Nikon European Ambassadors.
Kadir, a documentary photographer with almost thirty years’ experience, stands out in his field due to his sheer determination to push the boundaries of photography. His career started with a self-made dark room in which he discovered a new way of being creative through the lens. When he was initially rejected from studying photography at art school, Kadir was not deterred. Instead, it propelled him to become completely self-motivated, to trust his instincts and to never give up: ingredients that led him to be the successful freelance photographer he is today.
“I love the freedom and choice that being a freelance photographer gives you”, explains Kadir, whose love for travel would shape his career. He was travelling in the Philippines during the People Power Revolution – where over two million people took part in a series of demonstrations against the repressive regime of President Ferdinand Marcos, culminating in his departure. The images Kadir took during this unsettled time were the first of his to be published, and his appetite for documentary photography took off. Following this, his first professional role was to cover the First Intifada, the Palestinian uprising.
Outside his own photography career, Kadir is a co-founder of NOOR, a collective uniting a select group of highly accomplished photojournalists and documentary storytellers focusing on contemporary global issues. “Being co-founder of NOOR, an organisation that focuses on highlighting global issues, my initial reaction to being selected as a Nikon Ambassador was excitement at the thought of the large audience I would now be able to reach. Ever since Nikon offered me a Nikon D300 for a story in Nigeria ten years ago, we have had a close relationship, so it feels like a natural progression in our partnership.”
Kadir is proud of any work that has made an impact, with one of his biggest achievements being the work he produced around the global diamond industry. From the people who mine the diamonds, to the markets in the US and Europe where they are sold; he wanted to capture the realities of the global diamond industry. He produced an exhibition which he took back to the African countries in which he had worked, to show the diamond workers the purpose behind his visit, thus bringing the project full circle. Commenting on this, Kadir says, “It is so important to be unique and to make an impression by giving each of my subjects a voice; it’s what really drives me. All stories deserve to be told and I enjoy telling them through my photography.”
As part of this drive, Kadir continually pushes himself to create something new, such as the ‘Via PanAm’ project where he travelled from Chile to Alaska, covering 15 countries along the Pan-American Highway, investigating contemporary migration in the Americas. Taking a year to shoot, it was an elaborate and interactive project which involved blogs, video, audio and the creation of a unique app, and was widely published in the international media. While he admits it was a challenge to shoot, it was also incredibly rewarding and it’s this passion which has continually encouraged Kadir to push for the unique angle, no matter what the subject.
“I need to feel a story to tell it and to convey the emotion; this is incredibly important for documentary photography. A camera is an extension of the eye, so I always try to show exactly what I see, rather than relying on too many technical tricks,” shares Kadir. Like many photographers, he is inspired by interesting stories around the world and finding a unique angle or approach in which to capture them. His inspiration also comes from other photographers whose work he greatly admires and learns from.
He says, “Being a photographer isn’t always as exotic as it seems. It can be lonely, difficult and sometimes dangerous, especially when documenting conflicts. I’ve been passionate about the issue of climate change for many years, and have previously found it hard to engage people with this subject. However, as a photographer you have a responsibility to keep pushing and to tell a story.”
This ethic is demonstrated by some of his favourite imagery, taken for a project looking at the global consequences of rising sea levels caused by climate change. In his reportage, he tried to provide globally balanced coverage of how climate change is already affecting places where people live.
The ‘Rising Sea Levels’ project was designed to highlight the immense complexities between increasingly disappearing land due to flooding and the effect it has on people. While it used to be of little general interest, it is now increasingly relevant and topical due to the alarming rate of change the rising sea level.
Kadir shot the imagery for this project on a Nikon D700 and a Nikon D3, and has been using Nikon products for 33 years, before he even started his professional photography career. He has previously owned a Nikon F2 and loved its reliability to work well in extreme weather conditions. Kadir’s current favourite camera is the Nikon D810 – enjoying the resolution and video capabilities it offers and its handy size when he’s out in the field. In the next few months he is planning on shooting on the new Nikon flagship DSLR, the Nikon D5, due to its incredibly high ISO, which is almost close to night vision and the 4K video, which makes the camera incredibly versatile.
Of his new Nikon European Ambassador role, Kadir comments, “I am honoured to be a part of the Nikon European Ambassador Programme. I’m excited to have the opportunity to share my knowledge and explain the idea and purpose behind my work. I look forward to sharing my experiences and inspiring enthusiasts, as well as professional photographers.”
Kadir will be working on various projects in the coming year and is looking forward to helping others consider new areas outside their comfort zone to achieve innovative and original photography. He’s also looking forward to the prospect of photography workshops, where he can help teach and inspire a new audience on behalf of Nikon. We will be sharing some of the fantastic images captured by Kadir during the coming months – so keep an eye out for them!