Paul van Riel started his career in the 1960s, publishing his first portfolio in 1968. Born in Amsterdam, he soon started travelling and working both at home and abroad shooting jazz concerts and studio recordings for newspapers and music magazines. In 1975, he joined the Dutch professional photographers’ association GKf.
In 1974, quite by accident, he entered the fashion scene by starting to cover the spring and autumn ready-to-wear shows in Paris, moving then on to cover the catwalks of Milan and occasionally those of the Parisian Couture. His success in capturing the vibe of the runway shows led him to open his own studio in Amsterdam, while carrying out works for various magazines and newspaper supplements, sponsored media and corporate publications. In 1985, he signed up with the New York agency Black Star, which provided him with regular assignments for Fortune Magazine, BusinessWeek, The New York Times, Wine Spectator.
A fascination for Asia, and especially for Japan, dominates Van Riel’s assignment calendar since 1978, and his personal projects are regularly exhibited in Dutch galleries and museums. The long-standing collaboration with PATA, a Pacific-Asia travel promotion body, allowed him to travel from Bali to Beijing, Los Angeles to Delhi, building a vast library of images of different peoples and cultures. Fashion remained one of the areas he explored through his photography, especially for magazines in Hong Kong and Japan: Apparel, Style, Kateigaho.