Joe Buissink – An Intimate Portrait Video

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.


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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20 thoughts on “Joe Buissink – An Intimate Portrait Video

    1. Thanks Shaun. That means a lot coming from you. Glad it connected with you. That was the plan. (Well, not to connect with YOU specifically, but you get the point. 🙂

  1. Watching this, I see Joe as much more than an amazing photographer, he’s a great person I respect. His connection with his family and moments in other people’s lives are what make him really special.

  2. Ron, well done!

    Joe, that was really sincerely felt glimpse into your personal life. Thank you for sharing that with us and allowing Ron to capture it.

  3. I remember first seeing Joe on an Aperture video that Apple released before they launched the product. His name is always mentioned with respect in the industry. Nice work Ron.

  4. Hi Ron. As usual a very moving piece. How much time did you spend with Joe shooting and was he a client or is this a shoot you just had to do.

    1. Hey Andrew,

      Thanks for the compliment. Last year I interviewed Joe for a series of films we did for Pictage. We was very generous of his time for what was a last minute shoot. So I did this as a thank you. I was with him for about 4 hours, but most of the footage was for the other videos. I used the footage from those films to put this piece together. The time I spent interviewing him specifically about his business was probably an hour if you include set up and tear down.

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