Welcome to my blog!
Welcome to my blog, so happy you’re here! This is the little corner of the internet where I share my photography work, alongside personal thoughts and feelings about all kinds of things to do with life. Some examples of topics that frequently show up in my work are social justice, mental health, and personal & spiritual development, but the message underlying all of it is to always keep considering “alternative views”, and to not take yourself too seriously.
Whether you like it or not, we are ultimately just a bunch of mammals jammed together tightly with no clue as to what we are doing on this world or what “life” truly even is. This is absolutely not to say that there isn’t anything “more” to life - all I’m saying is that we. don’t. know. And so we might as well stop taking ourselves so incredibly seriously, and enjoy the time we have here.
There is an unlimited potential for love and joy within each of us, if we only have the courage to be open and vulnerable enough to let it flow through us. If we stop focusing on disliking and hiding our true selves, and instead make the conscious decision to start working towards accepting and loving ourselves, the world around us becomes a lot more beautiful and rewarding. That’s what I’ve found, at least.
Up until a few years ago, I felt quite the opposite of this. I used to struggle a lot finding my place in this world - I couldn’t relate to what society seemed to expect of me, and it left me feeling lonely and misunderstood. I grew more and more inwards, and stopped believing in myself. I grew up in a highly analytical and no-nonsense family and neighborhood, and had an extreme adversity to all things “spiritual”. I thought people who believed in such things were deluding themselves; just desperate for answers in a world that has none. Ignorant, if anything.
This all started to change when, through a lucky series of events, I ended up doing an orientation year at a school in Zeist (“de Vrije Hogeschool”). For a year, I worked on personal development alongside 40 of my peers. They taught us in many subjects there, such as anthropology, psychology and philosophy, but the main thing they taught us was to think for ourselves. To decide for ourselves what we wanted to believe. To embrace our autonomy. At the same time, the school was based in an anthroposophical framework, and for the first time ever, I experienced those “hippie” spiritual beliefs and practices up close, but now they came from people whose happiness and depth didn’t seem fake to me; from people whom I admired! Although I ridiculed these aspects of the school at first (mostly because they made me feel deeply uncomfortable as they confronted me with myself), I slowly warmed up to them, and, by the end of the year, I thoroughly enjoyed them.
The big take-away from this year for me was that I felt empowered to create and shape my own belief system, and subsequently, my own experience of the world. I started to internalize the fact that on the most basic level, no one really knows anything, and that that makes our beliefs and experience as (in)valid as anyone else’s. Of course, we all have a need to hold on to our specific beliefs, and agree on certain things (e.g. “killing is bad”), lest life would be complete chaos, but for the most part - it’s a free world! Do - and believe in - what makes you happy; what makes your life worth living.
Obviously, this is easier said than done, and I’m definitely also still struggling through life myself. Nevertheless, I’ve gained a sense of peace amidst the struggle, and I (most of the time) am genuinely enthusiastic about working on myself. In the process of doing so, I’ve acquired different tools and techniques, and learned different (spiritual) lessons that have helped, and still help, me greatly in my own developmental journey. Although I have done most of this work through self-study, I was triggered or guided towards it at the VH, and now I’d like to be that trigger for others through sharing my own experiences. I don’t have the answers either, and what works for me might not work for you. I’d give anyone the same advice my teachers gave me - decide for yourself. I’ll be here sharing what I feel called to share.
At the moment, what I feel called to share in the broadest sense is the message of acceptance, both of others and yourself. To stay open to new things, because I truly think that when you stop learning, you stop living. If you’re not open to experiencing change, why live at all? Change can be scary, as it opens the door to the big intimidating chaos out there, but if you learn to embrace that chaos, it becomes absolutely liberating. You stop taking yourself as seriously, so the world becomes less seriously. It becomes one big wonderful playground. And just like playing, it’s all about trying out new things, falling on your face, learning from it, and getting back up again. That doesn’t mean it’s not fun.
The Alternative Viewfinder
Over the years, my photography as well as my personal life has become more and more geared towards spreading such messages of love and awareness, but I’ve never talked about these things as literally online. Over the past few months, however, I’ve been getting an increasing itch to share this message in a more consistent and open way, so I decided to create a blog.
My mission is to spread these messages and assist others on their path towards happiness and peace wherever I can. I believe that the current state of our (Western) society is unhealthy in many ways, plagued by consumerism, competition, hate, and extreme individualism. Nevertheless, I also believe that this world and the people in it are fundamentally good. If I were to give a diagnosis to our society, it would be a lack of love and understanding: We are so busy hiding our own fears and insecurities from one another, that we forget we all have them; We are so busy fighting for our own beliefs and needs, feeling so deeply that we are right, that we forget the other side is fighting for the exact same reasons. Through my work, I hope to trigger self-reflection about this concept and share the things that have greatly helped me in making peace with myself and this world.
First and foremost, the Alternative Viewfinder is a photography blog, where I share and talk about my work. However, as my work is becoming increasingly influenced by this mission and my own personal and spiritual development journey, so is this blog, and I’m planning to blog about these things outside of my photography as well. We’ll see what happens. All I know for sure is that I’ll continue to spread the messages important to me, and talk about my personal journey with it all.
Explore the Website
Along with the launch of this blog, I’ve published my newest photography project - ‘Self-harm: Behind the Scars’. To help raise awareness and break taboos surrounding the topic of self-harm, I’ve photographed and interviewed 6 young people who have experienced it themselves.
Next to checking out this new project, you can (outside of just having a click around):
Read more about me and the reasons I started this blog on the about page;
Watch my TEDx Talk, which touches upon many of the things I’ve written about in this post;
Leave me a comment or send me a message with your thoughts, questions, or suggestions for future project or blog topics.
The goal is to post a blog post at least twice a week on here, and if inspiration hits possibly more often. For daily updates and stories, and notifications of new posts, I’d suggest to follow me on Instagram. For monthly updates, behind the scenes, and personal anecdotes, you can also sign up for my newsletter below.
That’s it for now! I hope you’ve enjoyed this post and that you’ve been able to find whatever it was you came here looking for.
Please don’t hesitate to contact me or connect through social media, I would love to talk to you! Have a great day everyone.