Ellen Kok is a Dutch photographer and writer who combines photo essays with written stories. She firmly believes storytelling is an important art, that can open eyes and connect people. Her photography is based on trust and intimacy.
She studied at the School for Journalism in Utrecht, the Netherlands, before working as a photography critic for several Dutch newspapers and photography magazines and as a freelance photographer. In recent years she has been working mainly on long-term documentary projects, which all revolve around the lives of young people. They are among the most vulnerable members of our society, she believes, and how we treat them says a great deal about our culture.
Ellen is based in Linschoten, the Netherlands and Drewsville, New Hampshire, USA, where she recently completed her books Cadets and The Other Farm, and is working on one more, American Moments. She does her own production and publishes under her imprint “Netherlight.”
Published books:
School is an in-depth portrayal of a large school in a small city in the Netherlands, as well as a snapshot of the daily life of young Dutch people. It contains picture stories and interviews. (De Verbeelding/Netherlight, 2003)
School was chosen one of the best photography books in the 2004 Photo Annual of the American magazine Photo District News.
On the Land, Farmers and Nature, with text by Ineke Noordhoff. (Atlas, 2006)
On a Weekday, Five Dutch photographers picture daily life in the buildings of EGM architects. (De Verbeelding, 2005)
Cadets explores the importance of the military in American society through the lives of teenagers in a poor region of the USA. For over two years Ellen documented the daily life of the cadets of the Junior Reserve Officers' Training Corps (JROTC) at Fall Mountain Regional High School in Langdon, New Hampshire. (Netherlight, 2013)
Cadets was a Critical Mass 2011 and 2012 Finalist, and was accepted into CENTER Review Santa Fe 2012.
Photos from the book were on display in solo exhibitions: 2013 at the National Education Museum in Dordrecht, the Netherlands, and at Photoville 2015 in New York, NY, USA.
Other exhibitions and collections: The Photobook Exhibition of the Athens Photo Festival 2016, Greece. By the Books: 2nd Juried Photobook Exhibition, 2017, Vermont Center for Photography, Brattleboro, VT, USA. Permanent collection of Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library at Yale University.
You’ll Hear Us Roar documents the importance of sports in American high school education and in American culture. (Netherlight, 2014)
The Other Farm tells the story of two third-generation organic family farms on either side of an ocean: Lilac Ridge Farm in Brattleboro, Vermont and De Beekhoeve in Kamerik, the Netherlands. It deals with the importance of family and tradition, and the vital connection between farmers, nature, food, animals, and us. (Netherlight, 2015).
Photos from The Other Farm were on show in 2015 in a solo exhibition at the Stadsmuseum in Woerden, the Netherlands. It won a Silver Award in the P×3 Prix de la Photographie Paris 2016 in the category Professional Documentary Book. Other exhibitions and collections: By the Books: 2nd Juried Photobook Exhibition, 2017, Vermont Center for Photography, Brattleboro, VT, USA. Permanent collection of Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library at Yale University.
Books in production:
American Moments (since 1996). By photographing young Americans in their daily lives, Ellen is looking for an answer to the question: What does it mean to be an American? The young people in her photos are still finding out for themselves how to become a member of American society.
The photo story Teen Mom Revisited, that is part of American Moments, is a Critical Mass 2014 Finalist. It shows both the struggles of a teenage mother in 1996 and how things turned out twenty years later.
Exhibitions :
Ellen’s work has been exhibited internationally. Recent solo shows: Nationaal Onderwijs Museum, Cadets (Dordrecht, the Netherlands) 2013; Stadsmuseum Woerden, The Other Farm (Woerden, the Netherlands) 2015; Photoville, Cadets (New York, USA) 2015.
Ellen Kok is represented by De Beeldunie Photo Agency in Amsterdam. She is available for assignments.