One of my favourite clients is Talent Empowerment, which connects young athletes with Olympic dreams to companies and coaches. Capturing the personalities of their athletes fits perfectly with my focus. This is their story.

From kitchen table to the Olympics

Talent Empowerment founders Bertram Veen and Laurens Matla both have sisters -Marijn Veen and Frédérique Matla- that play in the Dutch national hockey squad. Directly after the Olympic Games of Rio de Janeiro, the brothers and sisters had a conversation at the kitchen table. Rio clearly came too early for Marijn and Frédérique, both teenagers at the time. One thing they were very clear about: the hockey players could use extra help and guidance in their mission to reach the Olympic Games of Tokyo in 2020. ‘This was the start of Talent Empowerment,’ Bertram says. ‘We helped them in finding sponsorship within their social and sports career’.

Dutch hockey player Marijn Veen holding a stick
Marijn Veen, Bertram’s sister


The company grew steadily. At the start of 2020, Talent Empowerment guides 36 athletes that are connected to 20 personal coaches (all ex-Olympians) and 40 clients (sponsoring companies). The goal is to guide 160 athletes around 2024, when the next Olympic Games (Paris) take place. I met Bertram at a sports venue, who took a liking to my work after seeing a picture that I shot of former PSV striker Hirving Lozano. 

Portrait of top Dutch hockey player Frédérique Matla
Frédérique Matla, Laurens’ sister

Some nice words from Bertram

Bertram was present at some of my photo sessions. He noticed me comforting the athletes by making jokes or showing interest in their personal lives in an amicable, relaxed fashion. ‘After the first shoots, our athletes sent us messages through Whatsapp, even before they saw the pictures, about how much they liked the sessions with Bram. He understands the athletes and doesn’t portray them as if they were fashion models, but in a more natural way that reflects their personalities. That is quite precisely what Talent Empowerment is looking for’.

Full body portrait of hockey athlete Renée van Laarhoven

For Talent Empowerment’s full story, head over to their website. If you’re keen to see more of my work for them, here’s a neat little album with their hockey players.