Ellen Kok
Ellen Kok
Ellen Kok
Ellen Kok

“Try, Try, Never Die, HOOAH!”

Many students of Fall Mountain Regional High School in Langdon, New Hampshire, begin class with that yell every day, sometimes delivering it in military uniform. They are cadets in the Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps, JROTC, a US Army-sponsored program.

By teaching them military values Americans admire – service, honor, skill and leadership – JROTC tries to improve the students’ self-esteem and give them a better grip on life. The class offers camaraderie and the structure, direction, and security that are often missing at home. But many students are also from families with a military tradition, and some intend to join the Armed Forces.

Curious about the place of the military in American culture, for over two years Dutch photographer and writer Ellen Kok followed the cadets, their parents – several of whom are retired or active duty soldiers – and their two teachers – veterans who saw action in Lebanon, Iraq and Somalia.

What do marching in formation, doing push-ups, shining uniform buttons, firing air rifles and addressing each other with “Sergeant” or “Captain” do for young people? Does it help them to cope with the challenges life throws at them, at home and in school?

Artist Bios

  • Ellen Kok

    Ellen Kok is a Dutch photographer and writer who combines photo essays with written stories. She firmly believes storytelling is an important art that can open eyes and connect people. Her photography is based on trust and intimacy.

    Ellen is currently based in Drewsville, New Hampshire, where she recently completed her books “Cadets” (2013) and “The Other Farm” (2015). “Cadets” – photos from which are shown at Photoville – is the result of over two years shadowing the JROTC unit of Fall Mountain Regional High School in Langdon, New Hampshire. For “The Other Farm,” Ellen followed life at two family farms, one in the Netherlands and one in Vermont, for eleven years. She produced and published both books herself, under her imprint “Netherlight.”

    Ellen studied at the School for Journalism in Utrecht, the Netherlands, before working as a photography critic for several Dutch newspapers and photography magazines and as a freelance photographer. For ten years she specialized in agricultural photography.

    Now she works mainly on in-depth documentary projects revolving around the lives of young people. They are among the most vulnerable members of our society, she believes, and how we treat them says a great deal about our culture.


  • United Photo Industries (UPI)

    United Photo Industries (UPI)

    United Photo Industries (UPI) is a New York based nonprofit organization that works to promote a wider understanding of, and increased access to, the art of photography.

    Since its founding in 2011, UPI has rapidly solidified its position in the public art landscape by continuing to showcase thought-provoking, challenging, and exceptional photography from across the globe. In its first seven years, UPI has presented the work of more than 2,500 visual artists in gallery exhibitions and public art installations worldwide.

  • Dutch Culture USA

    Dutch Culture USA

    Dutch arts, culture, and shared cultural heritage are represented in the U.S. through the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Washington, DC, and the Consulates General of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Atlanta, Chicago, Miami, New York, and San Francisco. The headquarters for cultural services is the Press and Cultural Affairs Department of the Consulate General of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in New York. Monique Ruhe, Cultural Attaché for the Netherlands to the U.S., heads this department, which further consists of Robert Kloos, Deputy Head and responsible for Visual Arts, Architecture and Design; Noah Waxman, Senior Policy Officer and responsible for performing arts, film, literature; and Shomara Roosblad, Senior Cultural Officer and responsible for shared cultural heritage and old masters.

    FUTURE 400, a 2024/2025 initiative of the Netherlands Consulate General in New York, endeavors to honor 400 years of Dutch-New York history with honesty and integrity, creating space for others who share this common heritage to voice their feelings and experiences at this monumental moment. Partners from cultural to commercial fields, from the New York area to the Netherlands will come together to create new work and new opportunities that will continue to write the next chapter of our shared story, our collective…FUTURE 400. More information:


 archive : 2015

Featuring: Ellen Kok

Presented by: United Photo Industries (UPI), Dutch Culture USA
  • United Photo Industries (UPI)
  • Dutch Culture USA


View Location Details Brooklyn Bridge Park – Emily Warren Roebling Plaza

1 Water St
Brooklyn, NY 11201

Number 1 on the official photoville map Click to download this year's map

This location is part of Brooklyn Bridge Park
Explore other locations and exhibitions nearby

This website was made possible thanks to the generous support and partnership of Photowings