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The Dutch documentary photographer HJ Hunter started in 2015 from his hometown of Maastricht on a journey of discovery through the raw post-industrial landscape that he closed his eyes to as a child, and that he came to appreciate as a photographer.

Once upon a time is a portrait of the post-industrial heart of Western Europe. The landscapes, portraits and interiors tell a story about inhabitants from different cultures trying to make the best of their lives in a region with an uneasy cinematic beauty.

The story also touches on a current social problem. The world must and wants to stop with the polluting industry and coal for generating energy. The 94 images show what the impact can be on an area and its residents if large industrial companies close and the local economy has to reinvent itself.


In bookshops: from March 1, 2023

ISBN: 9789462264571

Price: € 45

Hardcover, 176 pages, 94 images


Do you want a signed copy?

Order here!

HJ Hunter studied literature and worked as a (corporate) journalist and commercial writer before becoming interested in documentary photography in 2013. His autonomous projects have been published internationally in leading newspapers and magazines and exhibited in the Netherlands, Germany and Belgium. Once upon a time is his first photo book.

Once upon a time.jpg
Click here to read the text in Dutch, French and German

(Dutch) photographers about Once upon a time


Marcel Molle

“I like the landscapes. They betray so much human presence. The portraits are just as intriguing.

Really amazing."


Carla Kogelman

“The book is an ode to the area, and to the people who live there. It contains fine images

that radiate a kind of desolation that makes me very happy.”


Chris de Bode

“It is not only a good story, but also well photographed.

What appeals to me is that the photos are so beautifully orchestrated. Very well done."

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