I am Denise (43), my friends call me Dee. I am a photographer fuelled by compassion, curiosity, and a drive to change the current view of society on aging. I live in Amsterdam, in The Netherlands, with my husband and 3-year-old son that I gave birth to when I turned 40.
In my younger days, I worked as a fashion model. Living in Milano, Paris, and London, I traveled the world to work for many clients. When I was 25, I moved back to the Netherlands to become a photographer. After finishing art school at 29 I started working as a freelance photographer.
What would you say has been the biggest shift in your life since turning 40?
Giving birth to my son at 40 changed my life. An awareness came over me, I call it ‘motherhood’. Everything that was once important to me was suddenly less important. If someone had told me 5 years ago that I would be a mother one day … I would have declared them crazy. But now I wish I had him earlier in life to have more children. Unfortunately, I suffer from Endometriosis and having my son was a miracle, doctors told me I would never have any children so I am lucky to have one.
When do you feel you are most powerful?
I feel most powerful when I artistically create (pictures, ideas, painting, etc) and when I am doing something nice with my son. I am either an artist or a loving mother. Being an artist these days means empowering women with my new project &Bloom. I need the satisfaction of meaningful photography to feel happy with myself and my work. My work has to have purpose nowadays.
What are the top 3 most important things to you right now?
Motherhood, my &Bloom project, and self-development
How do you make sure your actions are aligned with what’s most important to you?
I created a lifestyle for myself to be an almost-full-time mother and work aside without having to miss my son (or the other way around). I photograph in my own studio, I edit my pictures, work on my website and my project from home. I closed doors and opened others and always try to be a better person. Life isn’t always easy and certain life lessons keep returning my path. It’s a journey, not only on the outside but also the inside.
What seeds are you planting today for the future?
My son is my seed, it’s my duty to teach him about life. I see it as my responsibility to give him the best start in life with lots of love, warmth, attention, personal lessons and confidence. He deserves all these things to the maximum.
Last year I started my &Bloom project. I had no idea where it would take me but I knew it was an important subject that would inspire many women around the world. I see this project as a seed I planted and I hope it will grow and spread around the world so it will change the way we see aging women, in life and in the media.
What advice would you give someone who is interested in redesigning midlife?
Close doors and new doors will open. If you want something to change you have to change certain things, stand in your power. Nothing will ever change if you are not open to change and you have to do it yourself, nobody can do it for you. I know it can be scary to stop old habits, a job, a relationship. It’s easy to say of course, easier than done. But you only live once and time flies.