Pressphoto agency de Boer

Half a century of press photography

The North Holland Archives acquired the photography collection of the well known pressphoto agency de Boer in October 2015. The approximately 2 million press photographs give an extraordinary visual account of North Holland from 1945 tot 2004. The Archive decided to make its new assets visible for the public during its annual summer exhibition. We were given the opportunity to showcase the collection in the Janskerk, but how can 2.000.000 photographs be displayed?

One needs categories to make a good selection. Fortunately for us, almost all photos are registered and tagged with the depicted themes and places.

The process of sorting and categorising is now central in the exhibition. A larger than life archival table is filled with thousands of printed photographs, the visitors can sort the pictures themselves, for example by depicted items or by location.

In such a large collection of images from one province, you might just find a picture taken in your own street, or one featuring your parents. The photographs help you recall memories, making the exhibition a unique, interactive experience for everyone.



Term: 10 July – 17 September 2016
Location: North Holland Archives, Janskerk, Haarlem

Photography: Mike Bink

“It’s pleasant to work with Synergique, because of their professional attitude and their good ideas. Their enthusiasm catches on. In short: a great agency to realise projects with.”
Nico Vriend – Project leader /
Senior employee presentation North Holland Archives
Build your own newspaper page

Pressphoto agency de Boer was head supplier of photographs for the newspaper Haarlems Dagblad. Stand in the editors shoes and design your own frontpage.

Take a glimpse inside the editorial office

Interviews with former employees of the agency give even more inside information, including one with the director Poppe de Boer. You’ll leave the exhibition with an idea of what it used to be like to work at the photo agency.

Logs and index cards

One needs categories to make a good selection. Fortunately almost all photographs have been registered in 50 logs and on 4500 index cards, giving them tags like their theme or, when applicable, in which news paper they were featured.

The Archive has set up a crowd-sourcing campaign in addition to the exhibition, in which people can help digitalise the categorising system. Everyone can do their part online, by placing categories upon the photographs.