Born in Tilburg, Netherlands in 1978, Jan-Joseph Stok spent nearly his entire childhood in France. At age 18, he returned to his home country to study photojournalism for three years at the Fotoacademie in Amsterdam. During a year of freelancing, he was wounded in an attack near Kosovo and decided to return home with the goal of acquiring more knowledge and experience about the world to better prepare him for the work he ultimately wanted to do.
Stok enrolled in a European Studies course in Maastricht but quickly changed his focus to photojournalism. He was the first international student to follow a semester course in photojournalism at the famous Danish school of Journalism in Aarhus, Denmark. Simultaneously, he completed an internship at Politiken, Denmarkâ€™s national newspaper.
He has completed freelance assignments for international magazines and newspapers and has traveled regularly to Africa to work for a variety of international NGOâ€™s. His body of work in Africa aims to reveal peopleâ€™s lives and not simply concentrate on hard news. His aim is to look deeper into the lives of sometimes neglected people, the facets of society that few people seem to care about, according to Stok.
In his photos, Stok shows a contrast between the Western world and the Third world, especially by juxtaposing photographs that capture both sides. Photography is about a look: how people regard you and how you regard people is what makes the strength of a picture, according to Stok. Respect and understanding of your subject are also key to his work, whose main goal is to show the human condition everywhere where injustice exists and to see individuals as human beings after all.
In January 2006, Stok was awarded â€œBest Photojournalist Under 30 of the Yearâ€ in the Netherlands at the Zilveren Camera where he won the Canon Prize. (www.zilverencamera.nl/2005/) Also in 2006, while Stok was based in London for one year, he continued to work as a freelancer while completing a Master in Photojournalism and Documentary Photography at the London College of Communication.
These days, Stok spends most of his time abroad on assignment in Africa for international NGOâ€™s and magazines, traveling regularly to the Democratic Republic of Congo and to other African nations.