Migrant workers > The photographers


Fotograaf Number Period Subject
Herbert Behrens   1965- 1966  First generation migrant workers
Ton den Haan  11 10 augustus 1972  Riots in the Rotterdam Afrikaanderwijk 
Robert de Hartogh   1143  1975-2006


Dolf Kruger   1959 Living quarters for Moluccans in Arnhem
Bertien van Manen   98  1976-1979 Women migrant workers and wives of migrant workers 
Peter Martens   182  1975-1990 Illegal migrant workers in Amsterdam, migrant workers, racist slogans on walls and Summer Carnival in Rotterdam 
Maria Toby   98 1976-1980 Turks, Moroccans, Surinamese and Chinese in the Rotterdam districts of Oude Noorden and Crooswijk


Herbert Behrens (1931)

Herbert Behrens worked between 1951 and 1961 for the office of the photo press agency Anefo in Rotterdam. He then established himself as freelance photojournalist, taking a keen interest in visual arts. As the photographer for the Rotterdam Hilton, he took countless photographs of the hotel’s famous guests. He also photographed for a number of dailies such as De Rotterdammer, Het Algemeen Dagblad, NRC and De Volkskrant, as well as for Sport Express. In 1974, Herbert Behrens went to France and largely abandoned photography. In 1975, he returned to the Netherlands, where he started working as a teacher of the photographic arts.

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Ton den Haan (1937)

As a photographer’s son, Ton de Haan got acquainted with photography at an early age. He trained to be a professional photographer and took a color photography course with the Agfa firm in Germany. He then established the FoTon photo press agency, which was to grow into one of the largest photo press agencies of the Netherlands. Ton den Haan traveled frequently on behalf of Het Algemeen Dagblad and he went a couple of times every week to the television studios in Hilversum to take photographs of television artists. His photographs appeared in many dailies, including De Nieuwe Vlaardingse Courant, Het Vrije Volk, the Rotterdam edition of Het Parool and De Dordtenaar as well as in the weeklies Quod Novum (published by Erasmus University Rotterdam), De Havenloods and Het Zuiden.

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Robert de Hartogh (1942)

After graduating from the Rotterdam Academie voor Beeldende Kunst (Academy for the visual arts) Robert de Hartogh engaged in photography while on vacation in Morocco and Turkey. The Nederlands Centrum Buitenlanders (NCB), the Stichting Hulp aan Buitenlandse Werknemers (SHBW) and the Museum voor Volkenkunde (now the Wereldmuseum) commissioned most of his work. Very apparent in the photographs he took are his empathy for the social situation and culture of migrant workers, whom he was able to photograph ‘from the inside’ because of the personal contacts he built with them. Thanks to the NCB’s, SHBW’s and Museum voor Volkenkunde’s many publications and the numerous exhibitions these institutes organized, his photographs helped establish the image Dutch people have of migrants in the Netherlands.

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Dolf Kruger (1923)

Between 1948 and 1951 Dolf Kruger was a freelance photographer, but then he joined De Waarheid, the Dutch communist party’s daily, to become its regular photographer. Working for De Waarheid, he took photographs of streets scenes, workshops, strikes, demonstrations, leasing conflicts, expulsions from lodgings and other social abuses. After leaving De Waarheid in 1959, he worked for government agencies, publishing houses, businesses and environmental organizations. In 1983, Dolf Kruger moved to Sweden and since then his main subjects have been his own family and nature.

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Bertien van Manen (1942)

She published her first book of photographs, Vrouwen te gast, featuring women migrant workers, in 1979. She then worked together with Catrien Ariëns on publications on the women’s rights movement and convent life. By and by Bertien van Manen began to have her doubts about this kind of social engagement. She developed a new form of committed photography by going to live with people at home and working with a simple amateur camera. Next she began a project on the role of family photographs in European interiors; these photographs are presented in the book Give me your Image (2006).

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Peter Martens (1937-1992)

In the 1960s Peter Martens traveled extensively and developed into an observant street photographer. This kind of socio-documentary photograph became the weapon he used to fight injustice in the world. He traveled mostly on his own initiative and offered his reports to various publications on his return. Peter Marten’s photographs illustrate not only material want, but also the inner emptiness of Western society. His urge to illustrate reality resulted in raw and revealing pictures.

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Maria Toby (1936 – 1981)

After having been trained as kindergarten teacher, Maria Roby learned the basic principles of photography from her husband, the visual artist Sjef Toby. She also took a correspondence course in photography through the Leidse Onderwijsinstellingen – LOI (Leiden teaching institute) and discussed her work with her photographer friend Marrie Bot. Starting in the early 1970s, Maria Toby documented the changing appearance of the Rotterdam districts of Crooswijk and Oude Noorden, where old buildings were being demolished and new ones erected. Her social engagement is clear through her photographs, most of which illustrate the living conditions of migrant families in blocks that were ripe for demolition. 

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