Some photographs have the power to transmit an emotion, to transport you to the place where the picture was taken and make you feel like you could almost step through the lens and be part of the scene captured in time; like you could just reach out and slide your hand over a smooth metal balustrade, or feel the snap of a linen curtain blowing in the air. The work of Renée Kemps does this and much more.
Renée is a photographer with a travelling heart, an unmistakable eye for detail and a finesse for colour and light. So, when we knew she was going to photograph our spaces, we were very excited to sit down with her for a moment to discuss her work.
Hi Renée, it’s great to have you here! Tell us a little bit about yourself and your background.
Hi! Thanks for having me! My name is Renee Kemps. I’m an interior and lifestyle photographer. I am currently living between Copenhagen and Amsterdam, but I work worldwide.
I grew up in the Dutch countryside and always loved being creative and working with raw materials while documenting the life around me. Studied Literature at the University of Amsterdam and, while still in college, started working as a photographer. I moved to Tokyo as soon as I graduated , and after that London, to pursue my career in photography fulltime.
What got you started as a photographer?
I used to document the things around me on a day-to-day basis — the food I’d eat, the recipes I’d develop, the places I’d visit, etc. — to share this with my family and friends. This was mostly food and recipe heavy as I love cooking and hosting dinners, and this was also the easiest to do besides studying.
However, over the years and with freelancing full time, I have invested my time and interest in the subjects I really love and slowly transitioned from food to interior, design and lifestyle.
You seem to have a travelling heart, you’ve lived across the globe, from Tokyo to Copenhagen. What has prompted all these travels?
My work has taken me many places. I’ve always loved exploring my options and going somewhere to pursue work, opportunities and meeting people. Although we can connect and work together digitally with ease these days, I feel like being somewhere physically still makes a difference.
Seeing people and places in real life, having face-to-face conversations, and experiencing a city, culture and lifestyle will always be more valuable to me.
Your pictures are very minimalistic and soft. Can you tell us a bit about your style?
I am drawn to minimalism and natural materials, textures and colours. I love playing with light and shadows, and keeping what I document as real as possible.
Images are often made so ‘perfect’, especially in post production, that they become flat and empty. I like my images to have a little softness to them; it’s less about sharpness, popping colours, and more about transferring a feeling, materials, textures and objects.
What attracts your photographic eye in an interior?
Currently, I am particularly drawn to natural materials, textures and colours. A soft palette, a subtle texture on the walls, organic shapes of objects.
Your use of colour also seems very specific, is it a conscious choice?
Over time, and with seeing many different work settings, you develop your own style and preferences. You start somewhere and think you know what you like, but this changes when you learn more, see more, and grow more. It is a conscious choice. Just like with materials and textures, the same applies to colours — natural and organic, like beige, oat, white, and pastels.
Any big inspirations? Or anything that helps you kick-start a creative journey?
Conversations with like-minded people and being in a creative space are my biggest sources of inspiration. Talking all things design, interior, and beauty and being able to experience that physically, either through being in a space or shooting it, makes me very happy.
Those first conversations you can have with someone are the most exciting ones, conversations where you completely understand each other and can talk for hours about values, ideas, and dream projects.
What’s next for you? Any plans or a sneak peek you can share?
There’s not much I can share here, unfortunately. Most productions I can’t tell you about until they launch.
Thank you Renée, for your time, the beautiful pics and for sharing your stories with us!
Interview by Sara Martín Mazorra