We get to see a large flow of images daily which allows us to get to know the rest of the world from our living room. But Images made in the advertising world or posted on social media are often filtered and exaggerated.

This creates expectations. So I asked myself:

“Can reality still meet with this ideal picture in our head?”

I decided to go on a 5 week-long trip to Southeast Asia. At least that is what I let my family, friends, classmates, teachers and even my parents believe. Because in reality I stayed home and created an illusion of myself traveling through the use of digital manipulation & photoshop.

An old beach photo merged with a tropical paradise


Images made in the advertising world are often exaggerated. Even though we all know this, it doesn’t stop us from dreaming of these picture perfect places. The risk is that those purified photos represent what we think is real. This creates certain expectations..


Arriving at a travel destination can turn into a big disappointment, because the images we got to see online do not match with the here and now.


On social media we want to present ourselves as positively as possible, so we filter what we think is worth showing. Bad weather, other tourists, or boring moments are therefore not included. Our snapshots are often treated with apps and filters to make them more appealing before showing them to the rest of the world.


Everyone can be the designer of their own digital identity:  social media are a representation of real life, but in a distorted ideal way. I decided I wanted to show the people around me firsthand how careful you have to be in believing what you see…



My generation is one of the first that has been raised with computer programs, editing software and the internet as an indispensable part of our daily lives. These technological developments, in which the possibilities of reproduction and recombination are endless, ensure that photography is increasingly more distanced from reality.

* UPDATE : Looking back I cannot believe the following badly photoshopped images of me were perceived to be true travel pics. But times have changed. Since doing this project (back in 2013), the social media environment has grown. Manipulated images became more and more present, but gladly we also got better in spotting the fakes.

Photo studio merged with a Google found scene of Angkor Wat


The short videos I made are all played chronologically backwards. They start with one of my fake holiday photos and next reveal how I fooled the situation.

Exhibited at the ‘International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam’

Turns out that we have one Bhuddistic temple in the Netherlands. Somewhere hidden in a rebuilt garage, I found a group of monks and a display of relic statues. The perfect environment for one of my ‘holiday photos’.


Travelling alone means meeting new people along the way, so I needed to come up with some imaginary friends.  To do this I borrowed the holiday photos of a random girl blogger who travelled to Asia. I gave her a new name and let her tag me in one of her photos. I even had a conversation with ‘myself’ in the comments underneath it!

Funnily Facebook caught me in my cheating when I tried to add many  “friends” at once, but when I found a way to  bypass the authentication, I managed to get accepted by more then 150 people within a day. Strange how easily they wanted to connect with a person that does not even exist ..

Upon returning home, I took care of some souvenirs and bought little Bhudda statues, postcards and Laonese stamps at a flea market nearby.

I finished the project by writing reviews on Tripadvisor. They say they give World’s most trusted travel advice and their slogan is: ‘first the truth, then travel’. I turned that around.


Back home I pretended I was going to show my family and friends my holiday photos, but instead I revealed the truth. At forehand it was hard to predict if everyone would understand the purpose of this project. And I’ve been hesitating wether or not to include my parents and closest friends.

But if I was doing this, I wanted to go all in.


The book ‘Sjezus zeg, Zilla’ shows a photo report of my fake journey. Initially it appears to be an ordinary travel photo album. But the pages contain an additional layer. They can be scanned with the augmented reality app called ‘Layar‘. Which then reveals that there is more to this story. A video will load to show the viewer what really happened. So with a little effort you can find out the truth.

The images literally come to life.

By the way,
Right after my graduation I honestly DID really pack my backpack to do the same roundtrip as I made during my fake journey.

Be warned: watching this could evoke feelings of jealousy. It is heavily filtered and shows a distorted reality. I apologize sincerely.


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