Mona van den Berg; Photographer, Filmmaker & Publisher
Photo: Nikki Nooteboom

The binding thread of humanity

What I love to do most as a photographer, is work on big projects in which I can take responsibility for the story being told. I always focus on stories that are not told enough in mainstream media, or not from a compassionate angle. Since 2015, I have been the editor in chief of an (ongoing) series of supplements for Dutch daily Trouw. The daily gives me a free hand editorially, and I tell the story of, for example, the rights of disabled people, of the consequences of human trafficking and of children’s rights. I closely cooperate with both journalists and NGO’s, and take all the pictures in the supplements.

I don’t only work on bigger projects. I also work on single stories or documentaries with journalists. And I have started making short films (which I publish on my Youtube channel), to give the message of the Trouw supplements more power. The thread that binds all my work together is fighting injustice.

My career has been marked by fighting injustice. This started when I worked as a social worker at a women’s shelter, after I finished my studies at the Academy of Social Work. This work inspired me to study more, so I went to Law School. There, I concentrated on human rights and eventually graduated in International Law/Human Rights and Immigration and Asylum Law. My subsequent work as a lawyer didn’t turn out to be too satisfying though. It frustrated me that the rules applying to asylum became increasingly stringent. Also, I didn’t turn out to be very compatible with an office job. I decided that I wanted to make visible what was happening in the world and make people acquainted with faces that live on the edges of our societies. I wanted to make visible what often remains invisible.

At the Academy of Social Work, I had already taken my first steps in photography, and now decided to make another radical shift: I enrolled at the Photo Academy. There, I have eventually learned to sail my course.

I have had work published in, amongst many others, Dutch dailies Trouw, de Volkskrant and Parool, for Dutch magazines Vrij Nederland and Opzij and internationally for Al Jazeera and The Guardian. I also have several NGO’s as my clients.

Humanity still has a central place in my work. The style of my photography is recognizable, both in documentaries and portraits: always raw and truthful. In 2012, acclaimed Dutch photographer Erwin Olaf mentioned me as Dutch Talent in specialist journal Focus. In 2014 I won second prize in the most important photography award in the Netherlands, Zilveren Camera (Silver Camera), in the ‘Domestic’ category with my series ‘Chosen Death’.

I have been working as a photographer for ten years now. It suits me perfectly. I will stick with it.

Education

  • Photo Academy Amsterdam
  • Master international Law and Human Rights University Utrecht 
  • Social Work HBO Amsterdam

Exhibitions

  • 2007 /  RASA te Utrecht
  • 2007/ Bergsingelkerk Rotterdam
  • 2008/ Public libary Utrecht
  • 2010/ loods 6 Amsterdam
  • 2010/ school for journalism Utrecht
  • 2011/ public libary Amsterdam
  • 2012/ Town hall Utrecht
  • 2016/Humanity House

Published Supplements

2015

  • Vlucht (wereldvluchtelingendag)
  • Kinderrechten (Dag voor de rechten van het kind)
  • Familie (SOS- Kinderdorpen)

2016

  • 5 jaar oorlog Syrië (20 maart 2016)
  • Vergeten Conflicten (wereldvluchtelingendag)

2018

  • Familie (SOS-Kinderdorpen)
  • Allemaal Wij (wereldvluchtelingendag)
  • Moderne Slavernij (dag tegen mensenhandel)
  • Onbeperkt Meedoen (wereldgehanicaptendag)

Awards

  • Photo Award 2004 UUr U
  • First extra price fotogram trophy 2008
  • Second price Zilveren Camera catagory Domestic Documentary

Commissioned work for:

  • Al Jazeera
  • The Guardian
  • Trouw
  • Volkskrant Magazine
  • Parool
  • Vrij Nederland
  • Opzij
  • Lilianefonds
  • Simavi
  • Medair
  • KWF Kankerbestrijding
  • Vluchtelingenwerk Nederland
  • Warchild
  • Simavi
  • Lilianefonds
  • Aidsfonds
  • Vereniging Nederlandse Gehandicaptenzorg
  • Mensen met een Missie
  • Leprastichting
  • Care Nederland
  • Divosa
  • Humanitas
  • Mainline
  • Markant
  • Y-Publications 
  • Straatnieuws Utrecht
  • Maatwerk
  • Anoiksis

Member of the professional Association of Photographers and the Dutch Association of Journalism

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