Joe Buissink has had quite a life. Born in Indonesia. Abandoned by his biological mother (literally left on a doorstep). Verbally and physically abused as a child by his step mom. Moved to Holland at 7, then later to L.A. after his family had enough of the racial persecution they got in Holland (Joe didn’t look like the average blue-eyed, blonde, pale-skinned Dutch kid). While in L.A. he dealt with gang violence. Later he lost friends in the Vietnam war, and when denied his chance to serve in the war (due to some strings pulled by his dad), the shame and frustration drove him to drugs and alcohol. One day, after looking at himself in the mirror and not recognizing what he saw, he threw away the drugs and never looked back. He went on to eventually become and executive in the music industry.
Joe did all of this BEFORE becoming one of the most successful and well-respected high society wedding and lifestyle photographers in the world. He’s also one of the most giving and down to earth guys you will meet. Authentic. I am honored to call him friend.
Last September I was down in L.A. shooting a segment of a film series I was producing for long-time client Pictage’s PartnerConference. I was filming Joe for the “Mirrors & Shoes” film (where you can hear for yourself some of the aforementioned stories of his youth). He mentioned he needed a little introductory video for his new website and I said I’d be happy to shoot some extra footage of him talking to the camera about his work that he could use. Nothing fancy. Just a short piece to give his website visitors a quick glimpse. After all he was doing to help out on this project, as well as his hospitality while I was down there, I was more than happy to oblige.
Once I got around to editing it, I had a problem. I didn’t just want to create a “talking head” video. I needed to do something that really represented Joe. But, I didn’t have any of the traditional footage I’d use for a promo video. Then I said to myself, “Ron. Aren’t you always going on about how a promo isn’t just about the gear? Well, here’s an opportunity to put your money where you mouth is.” Also, I know that Joe’s reputation precedes him when clients come to his studio. They know going in he’s a great photographer. I wanted to show them a side of Joe they may not normally see. Something that would endear them to this great human being.
So I recycled some unused footage from the Pictage shoot and threw this little diddy together. I think it does a pretty good job at showing the real Joe. In it he shares how his family life impacts his photography, and gives background on some of his most iconic images.
IT’S NEVER TOO LATE
Joe was 45 when started shooting weddings. He is living proof that it’s never too late to start anew. Never too late to pursue your passion. Never too late to pick up that pen and write that novel. Or to pick up that camera and film your opus. You’re never too old to dream. Never too old to make dreams a reality.
What’s your dream? Don’t let your age, your situation, or your past stop you from reaching for it.
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