Portrait artist Milou Krietemeijer-Dirks specializes in creating photographs of young people who subtly reveal their inner lives to her camera. In the authenticity of children, she finds a timeless expression of human individuality—a challenge made even more difficult in an era of ever-accelerating change. “It’s a fast world,” says the south Netherlands-based portraitist. “Things move along pretty quickly and maybe children also get bored quickly. But I think all children are still pure. Their soul, their innocence, their intensity—it’s still there in children.”
But when posed in front of a camera, a child’s disposition doesn’t come through naturally. For her portrait work, Krietemeijer-Dirks puts in a lot of time and effort to forge a bond with young subjects and to document their true spirit. “I think you can capture that in a frame if you have real contact with them and make that connection.”
Krietemeijer-Dirks’ work recently attracted the team at Adobe Stock, who tapped her to create a custom portfolio for Adobe Stock’s Premium collection, inspired by its forthcoming Visual Trend collection on the theme of “History and Memory.” Reflecting both the trend and the timeless genuineness of children, her portfolio anchors its style in Holland’s rich artistic history. Krietemeijer-Dirks’ studio portraits evoke the delicately illuminated paintings of Dutch Masters like Rembrandt and Vermeer, while her outdoor images place subjects under the expansive skies that have graced Dutch landscape painting for centuries.
Krietemeijer-Dirks developed her own contemplative style of portraiture after delving back into a long-standing interest in photography when her two children reached school age. She had left a career as a general practitioner to raise them, and as they grew older, she found herself with time to build a home studio and hone her skills. She began taking studio portraits of her own children, and then their friends, and then other children as word of mouth and social media brought more young people to her studio.
Soon she was attracting commissions from clients like Vogue Italia and the furniture maker Natuzzi, and seeing her work featured online by institutions like the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. Now, working with Adobe Stock has brought her portraiture to an even larger global audience looking for fine-art imagery with a timeless, universal appeal. “Adobe Stock is a great platform for generating exposure for artists’ work,” she says, “and it’s an honor to be part of that community.”
But true to her thoughtful approach, Krietemeijer-Dirks hasn’t allowed the demands of the modern media world to rush her work. She makes a day of it when she photographs a child, serving lunch and getting to know her subject. “Their parents come along too,” she says. “You have to make a connection, and they have to trust you. Then you get the best results. So I take my time.”
Krietemeijer-Dirks’s uses her camera as a mechanism to strip away the clutter and noise that technology has brought into children’s lives today. The serene world that remains in her images invites viewers to spend a quiet moment with her subjects, just as the softly window-lit scenes painted by Dutch artists did so many years ago. “In my photography the models look in a serious way into the camera,” says Krietemeijer-Dirks. “There’s a purity that radiates through them, through their eyes, so you can see their soul. They don’t have to smile to be beautiful. All they need to do is be themselves. That’s just the beauty of children.”
—Sponsored by Adobe Stock