Koos Breukel (The Hague, 1962) studied at the Royal Academy of Art in The Hague from 1982 to 1986, after which he began working as a freelance photographer based in Amsterdam. He specialized himself in portrait photography and his work was soon being published in magazines and newspapers in the Netherlands. His first solo exhibition was at the Noorderlicht Festival in Groningen in 1991 and in 1994 he published his first monograph, The Wretched Skin.
Koos Breukel is among the best-known Dutch portrait photographers. He photographs everyone from children and students to writers, yachtsmen and transsexuals. In his work Breukel explores where people stand in life and how they cope with the traces that life has left behind. His models are damaged or can be subject to suffering on different levels. They are captured with compassion and respect, and make a silent, introvert impression that poses questions about their past. Examples of some of his undertaken projects are: a series of portraits of the survivors of the plane crash in Faro, and a series about Michael Matthews, a theatre director that died of aids in 1996. In the last years he has been working in color and with Phase One digital imaging, a sensor that is placed on the back of a Hasselblad and results in high resolution photographs. Despite the fact that death and suffering are inevitable factors in his work, Breukel describes his work as a ‘tribute to life’. Breukel's portraits are never superficial. They are not mercilessly revelatory images, but unprejudiced portraits that do justice to the individual, the traces left by his or her life and, above all, his or her personal dignity.