Documenting the lives of ‘The Mountain Men’ – Jeroen Nieuwhuis

Jeroen Nieuwhuis is a professional photographer from the Netherlands who specializes in Commercial & Portraiture photography.

Discovering a passion for Photography

At the young age of 11 he loved to skateboard, but found his love didn’t quite match his skill level as he wasn’t very good at it! However, this lead him to becoming more and more interested in the photography of skateboarders that he saw in the magazines he would read.

Starting with a meer 0.3 megapixle camera (bought from his own birthday money), Jeroen began photographing the skateboarders rather than trying his luck on the skatepark ramps himself. He rapidly progressed to a professional level of photography by the age of 17, kick starting his photography career.

Inspiration from moving image projects

A source of inspiration for Jeroen Nieuwhuis is videos – documentaries, short films, anything with striking imagery such as the work of cinematographers Khalid Mohtaseb and Paul Meyers. The kinds of videos that you could pause at any moment and get a strikingly beautiful still from.

I personally believe I can see this still image creator’s love for moving image in his work. A lot of Jeroen’s photography gives off the impression that there is a story behind the still photo, with depth and meaning. He gives us context clues and a hint towards the narrative but allows the viewer to come to their own conclusion. Like a hidden film within the unmoving images.

Image by Jeroen Nieuwhuis – From The Zaanse Schans commission project

One of Jeroen Nieuwhuis’ most recent projects, The Mountain Men, really dives into the theme of documenting and telling people’s stories through beautiful photos.

Who are ‘The Mountain Men’?

The Mountain Men are hardcore reenactors who live on the trails, hunting and surviving in the wild with only what nature provides them. They can survive through the toughest weather conditions and walk the toughest trails all without any of the comforts of modern technology.

Extreme weather conditions are not a problem for The Mountain Men. Whether that is freezing temps well into the minuses, or unrelenting, boiling heat. Despite only relying on what they can craft from their environment, they are always well prepared.

Their goal? Bringing back to life the traditions and way of life of Americas most daring explores and pioneers from the early 1800’s, who played a huge part in establishing passageways between East and West America on their trips during the fur trade.

Mountain Men spent a good portion of their time telling their stories and sharing experiences as they sit around the campfire.

Immediately struck with intrigue, Jeroen began looking getting in touch with Mountain Men of today, hoping to get the chance to document their activities (something never before photographed due to their strict rules on contemporary technology being involved in their re-enactments).

Eventually managing to organise a rendezvous, he had been granted the honour of joining the mountain men. Jeroen first spent some time living along side them and appreciating their traditions before even touching a camera. To truly capture images that would tell their story, he of course first needed to understand their story.

After a full year had passed since his first contact with the mountain men, Jeroen began photographing them. He travelled out to United States multiple times to broaden his documentation of the mountain men, eventually spanning into a 4 year long process!

I believe Jeroen wanted to ensure he expressed the way he interpreted their life and story accurately, and in a way that was translatable to an audience.

What Photography equipment was used during the project?

Jeroen relied on the unbeatable technology of Phase One, including the IQ4 150MP digital back as well as the older Mamiya Leaf Credo 40 and 50 backs.

15omp is quite a step up from 0.3mp camera that 11 year old Jeroen was working with! Shooting with the Phase One IQ4 back allows for the capture of incredible detail and resolution as well as unlimited printing possibilities. Browse the photography equipment used to capture ‘The Mountain Men’ series below.

The result of this documentation project will be a 200 page book containing more than 150 images that give a special insight into the lives of this extraordinary, reclusive group of Mountain Men. If you are interested in learning more about this project or pre-ordering your own copy of ‘The Mountain Men’ book then follow the link below.

Check out Jeroen Nieuwhuis’ website and find him on Instagram @jeroennieuwhuis to see more of his work.

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