Peter Kemp is an acclaimed conceptual photographer from the Netherlands. He narrates stories through his photographs and the results are intense and dramatic. Loving to draw from an early age, his passion for photography was ignited with the advent of digital cameras, which allowed him to view his creations in real time. He is known for his focus on details and the mystery and glamour in his works.

In his own words, Kemp encourages viewers to take a longer look at his photographs in order to uncover hidden meanings and other journeys. He believes that the details in his work can open doors to deeper understanding and appreciation of the stories he is trying to tell. His photographs are not just about capturing a moment, but about creating an immersive experience for the viewer that can be both thought-provoking and emotionally powerful.

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Please briefly tell us about you.

Coming from the Netherlands I like to create storytelling pictures. Trying to create some mystery and glamour into my work. Focusing a lot on details a longer look might open doors to other journeys.

What originally made you want to become an artist?

I loved to draw in my young life. With photography, I got myself a tool to fit in all details, which are running through my head all day.

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Your art seems to live in an intermediate dimension, halfway between the painting and photography universes. Did you start your artistic journey in painting?

When I was young I loved to draw. But I am not such a good drawer. So when I discovered the possibilities in digital photography I was able to “draw “ my stories into pictures …]

Do you draw inspiration from it?

Yes sure, I love the old master paintings.

You have created a very personal and distinctive style, which exudes glamour and sensuality, combined with a vintage feel. How did you arrive at it?

As I stated before I love especially the light in the old master paintings and I tried to add more glamour in a vintage style to it. So in this way, I am trying to give it a different mood. 

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The Dutch master painters are key influences to your work. They include Johannes Vermeer with whom, remarkably, you share Delft as your hometown. These painters were true wizards of light. Your works bring this tradition to new levels in the 21st century. Please tell us more about the role of light in your photographs and how you envisioned and achieved this unique atmosphere.

It is true what you say. I love the old light, which was used in these old paintings. So I try to get that into my pics. By using big softboxes, golden reflection screens and also by using colors in my background and scenery which emphasize the golden light. It needs a lot of trial and error before I was satisfied.

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Your photographs have a signature theatrical flair, with well-thought lightning, staging and costumes. Please tell us a bit about your creative process, from concept to production. 

I draw a mood board for all of my photo shoots. So all things are described from start to finish. So all my team members know what to expect before we even start. Everything is planned beforehand.

Of course, there can be small changes if something is not working out the way we expected. Teamwork in my shoots is essential. I am privileged to be able to work with all these creative people. From models, stylists, make-up and hair artists, costume experts and people who help me with decors and light they are all very helpful Without them I would be nothing!

Everybody of these creative people does have his or her influence on the final image. We hope that creates the magic!

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What are the roles of the photographer when working with models, make-up artists and other assistants?

It is a bit of coaching and directing. But all of them know before the shoot what we will be doing considering my mood boards (see former question). These people are so talented and creative that small instructions will direct us to the best picture …

In your early days, you combined your passions for scuba diving and underwater photography. Can you share with us any memories from those adventurous days?

While diving I experienced the world underwater was magic. It looks like a fairy tale; especially the vivid colors were superb.

Have those experience contributed to your current work?

It made me realize to create a world which I like while doing my photo projects. So in that way, the world underwater gave direction to my storytelling pictures which I am doing nowadays.

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Some of your works, such as the Plastic Surgeon series, have a more humorous tone. How did you conceive this idea?

The world of today is so serious so I like to use a smile into some of my works.

What is your goal in these photographs?

The goal of all of my photos is that I like the viewer to create his own story. I don’t like to tell the goal. You have to create your own story … not mine. I hope my pics do create a story in your own head, without telling you what my story was ...

We are always interested in hearing what accomplished artists like you would recommend to those at earlier stages in their career. Do you have any piece of advice or anecdote to share with them?

Follow your own thoughts and feelings. Don’t hesitate or feel insecure… just try and do! Don’t let others tell you what to do … follow your own way!

What can we expect from Peter Kemp in the future?

Bigger projects are on the way right now. But I cannot tell you about it. Sorry!

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Peter Kemp | Website


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