Born in 1965 in Amsterdam, Céline Van Balen attended the Gerrit Rietveld Academie where she studied photography in the mid-nineties. Before enrolling at the academy, Van Balen had relied on using a small thirty-five millimeter camera while she wandered the city streets. Her early work documented people on the fringe of society such as junkies and vagrants. For her assignments at the Gerrit Rietvald Academy, Van Balen began using a large-format camera, which later became her medium of choice because of its precision of detail. In her work, she also established a style of close-up portraiture where the subject’s face fills the entire frame of the picture. This approach exposes and celebrates the model’s imperfections.
Using her signature large-format camera for one series, she shifted her focus from the underbelly of society to seven-year old children from Amsterdam. “Seven-year-olds” was part of an exhibition series “Document Netherlands” that the Rijksmuseum's Dutch History Department organized in conjunction with the local newspaper NRC Handelsblad. Despite her subjects’ commonality of age and place of residence, all came from diverse backgrounds and living environments. In recent years, her works have been shown internationally and collected by public institutions such as the Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona and the Huis Marseille Stichting Voor Fotografie in Amsterdam. She was awarded the Foto Kees Scherer Prijs in 2003. Van Balen currently works and resides in Amsterdam
Foto Kees Scherer Prijs, Stichting FotoArchief Kees Scherer, Amsterdam, The Netherlands (2003)