Ilvy Njiokiktjien is a photojournalist, filmmaker, podcast host and educator who has been creating and sharing stories for almost two decades. She is based in Utrecht, the Netherland, is represented by VII Photo agency and is a Canon Ambassador.
Njiokiktjien is committed to documenting the social and political issues that shape our world. Her work is characterized by a sensitive eye and a compassionate and personal relationship with her subjects.
For 12 years, she chronicled South Africa’s first post-apartheid generation. Njiokiktjien became intrigued by these young adults and portrayed them in her own, personal and intimate style. “Equality is there on paper, but a majority of young people believes white South Africans still have better chances, as the legacy of centuries of inequality is still there.” The result is the project Born Free – Mandela’s Generation of Hope, which sparked a documentary, an interactive website, a book, feature articles, and a traveling exhibition.
Her work with Ukraine’s LGBTQ community in March 2022 tells the tale of people’s loves and fears – and their resolve in the face of Russian aggression. Njiokiktjiens latest project on co-housing follows people who opt to live in non-traditional groups or who welcome extended family members into a shared home. Njiokiktjien has consistently been at the forefront of new methods of visual storytelling. Way ahead of time, she started combining photography and film. She also has experimented with VR to bring the stories closer to the audience. Years ago she discovered the value of podcasts to share stories, which has resulted in hosting various podcasts and online interview programs for VII Insider and Canon.
She is increasingly being invited to give masterclasses, lectures, and extended lesson programs to young professionals. Clients include National Geographic, the International Center of Photography (New York), the VII Foundation, and Canon. Njiokiktjien studied at the School of Journalism in Utrecht. Part of this period she spent abroad at Rhodes University in Makhanda, South Africa. She largely acquired her skills in photography by experimenting and with the help of generous colleagues. From the beginning, contemporary social issues have been the main focus in her work. Her own background, growing up in the Netherlands as a child of Dutch and Chinese Indonesian parents, no doubt plays a role in her keen eye for the sometimes hidden issues of identity and injustice.
Since 2017 Ilvy is represented by VII Photo, an international collective of leading photojournalists dedicated to exposing and reporting on issues around the world throught photography and multimedia, and has served as a Canon ambassador since 2012. She’s the first woman to win the Dutch Silver Camera Award for photographer of the year and was named the first ever Photographer Laureate of the Netherlands in 2013. In addition to numerous awards from international organizations such as World Press Photo and POYi, Njiokiktjien’s images have appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, National Geographic, The Guardian, Stern, Der Spiegel, TIME, and other major outlets. She has exhibited at Visa pour l’Image in France, New York’s Photoville, and museums and festivals around the world.