Dutch travel and documentary photographer, filmmaker and writer Thijs Broekkamp (1993) is on a mission to change the Western perception of the Stans. The countries of Central Asia still hold a mysterious, obscure image and are rife with prejudices and misconceptions. Thijs initiated his project to change this. This project saw him travelling for a few months through all the Stans for the first time in 2018 and now continues to travel in these countries for this. It has led to founding his own charity to support the work of an local NGO in Afghanistan he became personally involved with an a surprising friendship with a local Tajik in a remote village in the Pamirs, whom he stays in close touch with, now considers a close friend and visits when possible in his village.
This work has been featured in online publications, articles and exhibitions. Currently Thijs is working on a book about his travels and documentary films.
The local connections provided him with interesting insights about life in this region. A region where life is not always easy and traveling not always comfortable. But where life feels real and its people are sincere and authentic. Where strangers become friends and where you are welcomed in people’s homes no matter your race, religious preference or beliefs. It was this mentality and hospitality of the people, the unbelievably beautiful landscapes, fascinating ancient culture and traditions, the many unexpected turn of events and encounters with locals and general warmth of the countries that made Thijs fall in love with the region. He believes that Western societies have a lot to learn from the mentality of the people in Central Asia.
Thijs’s work focuses on displaying the daily life and customs and traditions of other cultures and telling authentic stories of real people, about love, life, loss, hope and resilience. Besides Central Asia it takes him to places such as Iraq, Armenia and Georgia, but he also feels profoundly at home in the region of South Wallonia in Belgium, enjoying the delicious tradition of monastery brewed craft beers and local cheeses.