Swedish photographer Pieter ten Hoopen has worked within all aspects of photography, from journalism to commercial. At this point in his career he is a well known and distinguished photographer: he has received many prestigious awards, amongst them the Photographer of the Year in Sweden, and the World Press Award; he has published books of photography on Tokyo and Stockholm, and is currently working on a film project about Hungry Horse, Montana, through MediaStorm.
Ten Hoopen shoots mainly on a Nikon but also uses Yashica box cameras and a Widelux. He has worked all over the world, and travels out of known safety to deliver raw and emotionally jarring footage from places far away, many in turmoil. In the past, he has worked in Pakistan, composing images from the aftermath of the 2005 earthquake, an intimate glimpse into the pain and hardship as families continued digging through rubble in search of buried survivors. He shot the small village Vladimirskoe, Russia, which, lying next to the mythically invisible town of Kitezh, occupies a strange grey area of being juxtaposed next to a national attraction while being invisible and struggling itself; problems with alcohol and unemployment make life difficult for most of its inhabitants. In Japan, ten Hoopen visited a forest that lies below Mount Fuji, known informally as the “suicide forest,” where, yearly, nearly a hundred people travel there to commit suicide. The forest is dense with vegetation and stands on the remains of a volcanic eruption, making compasses completely useless and getting lost in the woods very easy. People tie ropes to trees to prevent themselves from getting lost, and many go in there with the intention of never coming out.
There is a stillness in his images, the composition forms its own poetry, and the emotional charge of the situations he encounters stand squarely in the frame. Within the same vein of documentary photography as Sebastião Salgado, ten Hoopen brings an unprovoked sense of art to the frame; providing a visual means with which we can connect to these feelings as viewers, even halfway across the globe, even never having stepped out of our own country. That is the most powerful aspect of this kind of a photographer, he gives voice to what he witnesses, and brings forth the unexplainable beauty and devastation that words cannot do justice to.