The aardwolf, the leopard, the brown hyena, the platypus, the lion, the pangolin, and (a skeleton of) the dodo. Photographer Henk Ruitenbeek made this list as a child: seven animals he ever wanted to see. He traveled the world, but he has succeeded. His photographs of the cubs of the aardwolf were even the first in color ever taken. It is the well-known story of being brought up with. His father was a bird watcher and his grandfather was a forester. When he was seven years old, he knew what he wanted to be: Tarzan.
‘I wanted to be like Tarzan living among wild animals in Africa. Thus was born the list, with seven animals, which I found in the old books of grandpa.’ The photography actually came more or less accidentally on his path, ‘ explains Henk. ‘My friends did not believe my stories of nature. Then I thought: from now on I will take pictures.’
He turned out to have talent and studied at the Fotovakschool in Apeldoorn, he has been taking photographs for over 30 years now.
Henk has visited many corners of the earth, always with the camera within reach.
During his travels one destination stands out, a place that grew less foreign with each visit until, finally, Africa became for him a second home. He attended the training to become a ranger, worked as a guide, photographed for brochures of luxury safari lodges and he taught as guest lecturer at the
Nelson Mandela University in George.
Henk’s work has been appeared in different media around the world, and he often gives lectures and presentations on his work and travels. His career includes highlights such as the first colour photographs ever taken of new-born aardwolf cubs, shot in Zimbabwe in 1996, the photo book Arkemheen een echte polder in 1997 and the publication of the book Growing with Ghana in 2015.