Nikon Ambassador Pieter Ten Hoopen documents love stories of couples and families impacted by the global refugee crisis

Amsterdam, the Netherlands, 29th May 2019 – A new photography project from Nikon Ambassador Pieter Ten Hoopen uncovers the inspiring love stories of couples and families who have been impacted by today’s global refugee crisis.

Travelling to both Turkey and Mexico, Pieter documents the ongoing love and strength of those who have been forced to flee their native country. His aim is to help overcome stereotypes and stigmas associated with refugees, by telling their individual love stories – something universally relatable – and how they have used these relationships to drive them towards a better future.

Be it for environmental, political, economic or cultural reasons, there are more refugees displaced now than ever before. To date, there are 68.5 million people worldwide who have been forced to flee their home, and among them, nearly 25.4 million are refugees, over half of whom are under the age of 18¹. Equipped with the Nikon D850Z 7 mirrorless camera and NIKKOR lenses, Pieter wanted to report this crisis in a new way, to represent the people as individuals – not statistics.

Creating a different perspective
Famous for his award-winning photojournalism and storytelling, Pieter always works on personal projects he is passionate about, namely focusing on the humanitarian crisis and war.

He comments: “In today’s reporting of refugees, people often become numbers – facts and figures. I wanted to take a different view. What does it mean for people to flee their home and why? How can we understand what these people have been through? One of the most fundamental things we all have is love, and so I wanted to create a story around love, and how it is the motor in our lives to feel positive, feel hope, and to help us through the dark times.”  

Seeking refuge
Pieter’s project began by documenting the lives of migrants who escaped Syria and found protection in Istanbul, as well as refugees from the well-known Migrant Caravans travelling to the US-Mexico border, having fled from Central America. From photographing persecuted couples from opposing gangs, to capturing parents hoping to secure a safe home for their children, Pieter’s images depict the harsh realities of life as a refugee, but also the way that affection and human relationships remain vital.

Pieter comments: “Most of the people I have photographed are fleeing because of poverty, violence, political repression or climate change – and I was surprised by how openly they talk about love. These are people who have been through the hardest times, which from a Western perspective we don’t often understand, and who are relying on love and relationships as their end goal. For them, love is a survival tool, and perhaps the most powerful one.”

The equipment
Throughout his journey, Pieter used the D850, for its speed, resolution and light sensitivity to capture intimate stills, along with the new Z 7 mirrorless camera for filming. To accompany these camera bodies, Pieter was also equipped with the AF-S NIKKOR 28mm f/1.4E ED lens.

He comments: “The D850 is one of my go-to cameras and is great for shooting stills. I use two bodies in the field and leave one in the hotel as a back-up. I also got the chance to test out the Z 7 which was such a new experience for me. The work I do requires lots of walking, running and jumping, and the lightweight aspect of the Z 7 was superb for this. The digital viewfinder meant what you see through the lens is what you get – making it so easy to use on the move.”

The Nikon Europe Special Project Programme

The Nikon Europe Special Project Programme offers the opportunity for Nikon Ambassadors - consisting of talented and influential photographers from across Europe - to realise their dream projects. The programme forms part of Nikon’s ongoing mission to support inspiring photographers, giving them a platform to undertake projects they are passionate about while creating a community of visual artists who aspire to do things differently.

For more information about Pieter’s project please visit his Special Project page. 

The kit

During his project, Pieter used the following equipment:

● Cameras:
   ⚬ D850 
   ⚬ Z 7

● Lenses: 
   ⚬ AF-S NIKKOR 28mm f/1.4E ED
   ⚬ AF-S NIKKOR 35mm f/1.4G 

About Pieter

Pieter Ten Hoopen is an experienced and internationally acclaimed photographer and filmmaker based in Stockholm, Sweden. Transitioning between editorial work, personal projects and commercial assignments, he has a wide range of returning customers including; New Yorker, New York Times Magazine, Le monde, Plan international.

¹  https://www.unhcr.org/figures-at-a-glance.html