Renée Kemps is a worldwide interior architecture and photographer based in London, Amsterdam and Stockholm. Her desire to travel took her to many places around the world from Tokyo to London and many more as she managed to show her aesthetic eye with high qualified works in every city she’s ever been. What specifically makes her different is the intimacy in her works because in each project she realize, there is a unique sense she gives through her photography. While minimalistic features are at the forefront with natural materials and textures, how she plays with light brings a soft touch. She makes people feel the tranquility of the atmosphere she is in and manage to create photos that feels like you are a part of it since they are as real as possible.
It is obvious that you do what you love considering how good you are at it, how did you find what you love in the first place?
I have always been interested in photography from a young age. My dad had a small analogue camera that he used to document happy family moments with, but the way he did so -taking the time, looking through the viewfinder and just moving around before he found the angle and composition he liked - really stuck with me. I remember a handful of moments where he took a photo of me like that, and where he looked so natural and happy with this Pentax in his hands, that I was just in awe of the magic of the moment and the images that I would later see in our photo albums.
Growing up, I never thought I could pursue photography as a career though and I prioritized my studies and going to university. However, I did love photography and kept dedicating all my free hours to it; trying to shoot more images, discovering what I liked and what I didn’t like, and pushing myself to practice and try different things out. In the end, photography had become my passion and something I couldn’t move away from. I decided to make it my career as soon as I graduated.
To find what you love, I feel like you start randomly at a point where all you have is an interest, a passion. You start experimenting, you push yourself, you fail, and from there you will grow. You will learn, along that way, what you love and what you want this thing to be that you have been so interested in.
Your works do much more than reflecting the atmosphere of a place. They take people inside the space - how do you create such intimacy?
The core of this is softness, timelessness and simplicity.
I love focusing on the bare structures of a home, the lines that sunlight and shadows create during the day, and textures of walls, fabrics or objects. You could maybe call it soft minimalism. By stripping down what I document, either literally or by choosing the angle, composition or crop, the viewer gets invited to see something in a very pure and calm way. It is the lines, shapes and textures in combination with this simplicity that almost seems to make people pause, in a world where things are often so over-saturated. Perhaps this is what makes the images feel intimate, and makes people feel like they are taken inside the space.
Tangibility is definitely of great importance in my work, too, which loops back to the above about textures and the play of light. I also like to think these are factors that make images stand out, as they move away from a flat photograph and something we know all too well. Instead, it adds something unique that catches the eye, something from a fleeting moment; like a sunbeam meeting an object in the room for just a few minutes.
Many people travel a lot because of their work but it seems like traveling turned out to be a lifestyle for you as you lived in very different countries around the world from Copenhagen to Tokyo. Which one of these countries you lived in helped you most to improve your art?
Out of the places I’ve lived in so far, I would say Tokyo. There is an incredible amount of attention for details, for quality of products and materials, for simplicity and for calmness. Their interest in woodwork, light, and building with nature instead of simply making to create is very inspiring.
Tokyo was also the most difficult time in my career. It came with a lot of struggles, doubts and hard lessons. However, looking back at this time right now, I do see that I could not have been here today if it wasn’t for the time there. I even think it still teaches me to this day about who I get in contact with, whoI work with and how I do so. It is a good reminder to apply the Japanese core concepts of simplicity, dedication and calmness to my own work and way of working in present days.
Interiors you have been in capturing are as good as your photographs, what kind of features excites you most in interior designs while shooting?
Natural materials, straight lines, large glass windows/walls, and the presence of nature and the surroundings in the home.
As traveling gives a great possibility to socialize more than usual you should have met with lots of people, what was the best advice you ever had from a stranger?
It does and it is also one of the things I miss most these days - meeting people whilst traveling or working internationally. It is almost as if the people you meet are no stranger at all. We instantly connect, as the place where we meet and are at the same time often means we value the same things. It’s beautiful how you can become friends with people in that moment, have hours-long conversations, and feel the creativity and excitement that you share - which will even last when you part again.
It’s difficult to point one thing out, as I’ve had the pleasure of meeting many incredible people and having endless conversations I care deeply about. Perhaps it is to never let goof my naivety and hunger for more, but also to stand still sometimes and realise where you are and appreciate and enjoy this. Often, I completely lose myself in new projects, work and push hard to achieve something, but when I getto the finish line my eyes are already set on something new on the horizon. I think it’s actually beautiful to pause and look back at what you’ve just finished, whether it’s something small or big, and share that moment with the people around you.