Phlearn Interviews Peter Kemp
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“I love to do story telling pictures in a vintage atmosphere. Trying to create some mystery and glamour into pics. Firstly by trying to create moody light. Secondly by working together with my beautiful models and team to join me into my photo projects. My scenes focus a lot on details, with just a quick look. But a deep and longer look might open the door to another journey. I guess I like to create little stories within my stories. Well …anyway all details are thought of long before the camera clicks.”
I read that you are completely self-taught. What would you say has been the biggest challenge in becoming a photographer and how did you overcome it?
I loved drawing and painting from an early age, and kept up with it my whole life. Photography was never the goal but just another medium for creating art. I strive to create an image that tells a story, whether that is through painting or photographs.
So I use the camera as my tool. But mastering the tools is merely a mechanical process and not that interesting to me. I’m fascinated with the ideas behind the image, the most fun is going back to the drawing, that is where the funny part starts.
There are so many beautiful details in your photos. Do you typically come up with the idea first and find the appropriate props and wardrobe to complete it or draw inspiration from those objects themselves?
Thank you for your compliment. First there is the idea. I find inspiration by reading books, magazines or looking at the old paintings of the Dutch Master painters.There are ideas running around my head all day, I have more ideas than I can work out and complete.
I tend to shoot no more than once a month. This proces requires setting up my ideas on a mood board, followed by putting together the best team I can find. After that I work on choosing a suitable location and organizing all the necessary props.
It is a time consuming, but definitely rewarding, process!
I do make sketches so all my team members know exactly what do and expect before beginning the photo shoot.
My team is a key factor, these people are all so skilled in their line of work, which must to be explored and utilized. The models, make up artist , wardrobe stylist, and people helping out are amazing. They bring such wonderful details into my work.
I am convinced it is not the photographer who “makes” the picture. It is the whole team pushing the release button, a collaborative effort. I have so much respect for my team.
Your photos all utilize background, model, wardrobe, and props to tell a story that varies from the classic beauty to humorous. What are some goals that you work towards with every shoot?
It has to be unique, tell a story, and bring a smile if possible.
Hopefully people start creating their own stories when viewing my work, that’s when I’ve succeeded. People ask me on regular basis what I want to get across, and my answer is always what do you see in it?
For me answering this question would be the same as telling them the punchline before the joke.
Do you typically shoot in studio with sets or travel to locations?
In the beginning I only worked in the studio since that was offering me the optimal control of light, props and the best circumstance in which to work with my models. In Holland - where live – rain is common. So being inside does create a more reliable environment.
But now my projects gets bigger I also work in halls and gyms and on location. I recently worked in an operation room of hospital.
It seems that a lot of pre-planning goes into your photoshoots, from posing to color choices. What is the typical process like from start to finish?
I have told you some of this process earlier in this interview, so to avoid repetitiveness I’ll summarize. First is the initial idea, then creating a mood board, finding the best team, and sharing all the information with my team.
Normally we can shoot a series of 3-5 photos in one day. But there are also bigger project which can take over a month of working out the details, one week of preparation and building the set and 3 to 4 days of shooting.
Many of your images focus on different time periods. How have previous decades inspired your work and why did you choose to stick with a surreal, vintage style?
I am really inspired by old painters such as Vermeer, Gerard Dou and other famous Dutch painters. I am living in a town called Delft, which is the same place where Johannes Vermeer made his wonderful art pieces in the 16th century. So walking around in Delft is very inspiring.
The 1930′s to 1950′s are a period I enjoy and is a great source of inspiration to me as well. This vintage mood is something I’m really drawn to, and this attraction brings me back time after time.
You recently released a new series with chickens. Do you have any advice for finding unique props and models?
As for working with models … let them not only be a model, ask what they think. They have great ideas and can be so creative. They know how to pose and express emotion, it is they who know how to be presented in the best way.
This way it can be more than one person’s photo … it can be team effort resulting in a better final image.
How has the internet influenced your career and photographs?
Due to the internet it is obvious your work can be seen by more people, the potential exposure is enormous. But the internet also shows us that almost all things have been done before, so it guarantees a way to be inspired to strive for something new and different.
To see more of Peter’s portfolio please visit his website