‘One day she came back from horseback riding. She took off her cap and I was struck by the image of her hair held together by a hair-net. It reminded me of the portraits by the Dutch masters and I portrayed her in that fashion.
With the birth of my children I realized I developed a new set of feelings. There was that complete and unconditional love, not wanting anything in return. There was the fear something could happen to them which made me more vulnerable then I ever felt before. And there was astonishment about the simple fact that they exist and I was allowed to watch them grow up. All these feelings I found in the portraits Hendrik Kerstens made of his daughter Paula.
I guess Kerstens, like most parents, wanted to document all the important moments in his daughters life. To capture something of the fleeting moments that fade from memory all too quickly. But his portraits are not the average family snapshots. Kerstens recognized and captured the fact that every human being, no matter how familiar, remains a mystery that can never be completely unravelled.
Then there is his consciousness of the fact that people are the same, no matter who they are or what age they live in. Associations are determined by the way we are depicted: the clothes and make up we wear, accessories and lighting. It’s the combination of the love for his child, his awareness of the little we know about our loved ones, his attempts to come to grips with the passing of time and the knowledge of his craft what makes this series of photographs so unbelievable beautiful.