I am Denise (47), friends call me Dee. I am a photographer fueled by compassion, curiosity, and a drive to change the current view of society on aging.
In my younger days, I worked as a fashion model. Living in Milano, Paris, and London, I traveled the world to work for many clients. When I was 25 I moved back to the Netherlands to become a photographer. After finishing art school at 29 I started working as a photographer and loved every minute of it, I loved fashion, beauty, and taking pictures of beautiful people. I worked all over the world from Tokyo to New York, from Capetown to Seoul.
The years passed by and while approaching the ‘BIG 40’ I began to notice a certain dissatisfaction about aging, especially amongst women. Exploring this dissatisfaction in my work and private life, made me realize that it occurs not only in women over 40 but also in many younger women. Young women that worry about getting older, middle-aged women who think they no longer count after a certain age.
Women, young and old(-er), that follow (the often) unrealistic example of the (social) media. The anti-aging campaigns using models barely over the age of 20, or Hollywood women that have everything ‘done’ to look younger. It can be, of course, a bit confusing, looking at celebrities your age that look at least 15 years younger than you do because of great light, filters, Botox, fillers, or other (radical) facial treatments.
Giving birth to my son at 40 changed my perspective. An awareness came over me, I call it ‘motherhood’ and growing up. Everything that was once important to me was suddenly less important. If someone had told me 5 years ago that I would be a mother one day … I would have declared them crazy. During early motherhood, I was given time to think about my work. I decided to give it a new, more meaningful direction. On an empty Thai beach, during endless walks with my 2-year-old son, I decided to start this new project called AndBloom.
It was also on that beach I realized I was having a kind of identity crisis. I no longer felt very young but also not old, yet I didn’t belong to the youth in my early forties, but I didn’t feel middle-aged either. I felt I was at a turning point in my life, physically and mentally. Talking with women around me made me realize I wasn’t the only one feeling like this. Many women feel a turning point around their 40’s and it’s not at all negative. 40-Something is a great age, you are old enough to know what you want and you still have time enough to do whatever you want. I know women that started new companies, women who started a new education, made a career switch, had another baby (or 2), changed husbands or left for a solo trip around the world.
AndBloom is an age-positive community, I photograph women of all ages over 40, beautiful, real women, to capture the beautiful journey of aging.
I am wearing a vintage jacket, a shirt by Vogue, and pants by 74thAvenue in this picture.