10½ QUESTIONS WITH PHOTOGRAPHER AND TRAVELER SOPHIE HEMELS
We chatted with Sophie Hemels: a young photographer, traveler and daredevil based in Amsterdam, and asked her 10½ questions about life, love, tinder and work.
YOU’RE QUITE A FREE SPIRIT IN
THE WAY YOU LIVE, HOW DID THAT COME ABOUT?
“It’s in my blood, I guess. I try to be healthy and happy,
whether that means sitting at home with a cup of tea, or
sitting in a car with four strangers on a road trip in France.
Luckily, I’m very social and dare to push boundaries which
helps me get to a lot of places most people don’t go to.
Those skills are quite helpful and it’s definitely always an adventure.”
WHAT ATTRACTS YOU TO SHOOTING ARTISTS?
“Shooting artists isn’t what I like to do most, but it
does have a certain magic to it. I only shoot artists
I personally admire. I find it very interesting to meet
the person behind a song I really like, the person that
made that perfect piece of music. And then create
something together. I have established some very nice
friendships by now. I’m not afraid to say what I honestly
stand for and I’m socially quite strong, a lot of artists appreciate that.”
WHAT’S BEEN YOUR BIGGEST ADVENTURE
“Oh that’s a hard question, so much. It sounds lame,
but a lot of things have become very normal to me.
If I had met my biggest idol five years ago, I probably
would have passed out. Now I walk by Patti Smith and
we just greet each other. Driving to Paris in the middle
of the night without money, standing on main stage
with The Vaccines, watching my car burn down haha,
crashing hostels and sleeping on the beach for five
weeks with this Frenchman…”
WHICH PHOTO DO YOU CARE ABOUT MOST?
Again a tough question. I care a lot about all of my pictures, made them you know. Of course I have some favorites.
A picture of my friend Dillan (who I like to shoot the most)
when we were at this skatepark and I put him on the ground
with these two contrasting squares. I am very happy with
that one. Or when I made Angus & Julia Stone hang out
of a window, that picture captures the two siblings quite
well I think. But the pictures I value most are without a
doubt the polaroids I shot of and with my friends.”
WHAT DOES PHOTOGRAPHY MEAN TO YOU?
“Photography is my way of showing how I see the world.
Whether it’s shooting a skater in Sydney, surfers in France,
rascals in rainy Amsterdam or Ben Howard on a festival.
It’s a shot of how I see that moment in time. I place the
person in front of that wall/tree/whatever I notice and
will contribute to the moment and click. It’s my way of
contributing to something beautiful and I love it. I do it how
I like it, when I like it, and with whom I like it. That’s one
of the reasons why I will never study photography.
It’s my passion and I don’t want anyone telling me
that there’s a certain way to do it. To me it’s not about
being the most famous photographer one day, hell no.
When I’m 85 and my 12 grandchildren are visiting
I’ll grab the dusty photo album and show them my life,
how I saw everything, and hopefully they will like it.
The rest doesn’t really matter.
HOW FAR DID YOU EVER GO TO SHOOT
“Uhh, not a lot besides bluffing a lot. If I want to
shoot a band or artist that’s in town, I’ll email or
Facebook them. When I’m on a festival and know
someone is performing that I really want to shoot,
I’ll find my way to get backstage or get into contact
with their management. But really, if you just stick
to the rules it won’t get you anywhere.”
WHICH ARTISTS DO YOU REALLY WANT TO SHOOT?
“Bon Iver for sure, some portraits of Benjamin Booker,
Mac DeMarco. Jett Rebel, ‘cause I really like his style.
I’ve already had the opportunity to shoot most of my
favorite artists actually. Luckily, Beyonce isn’t one of them,
that’s raising the bar a bit haha.”
HOW IMPORTANT ARE TRAVELING AND
SURFING TO YOU?
“Haha, surfing.. I like it, but it scares me to death.
Sharks mainly, my worst fear in life. Traveling is very
precious to me, especially nature, cities a bit less.
Everywhere I go I download Tinder straight away
and scan Instagram for new people to shoot.
I’ll meet the locals, shoot new material and expand my network.”
HAVE YOU EVER FALLEN IN LOVE ON
ONE OF YOUR TRIPS AND WHAT WAS IT LIKE?
“I’m 110% emo, so I always fall extremely in love with life,
the trees and roads, sounds and colors of a place.
My second time Australia I met a guy on the streets
that felt like my brother from another mother.
From that moment on we spent every minute of the
day with each other. Gosh I love him very, very much,
but as a brother. There are always cute boys, everywhere,
and I had some wonderful times but I don’t fall head
over heels easily. Plus, I am already very in love with an
WHAT KIND OF ROLE DOES LOVE HAVE
IN YOUR LIFE AND IN YOUR PHOTOGRAPHY?
“In my personal life it’s the thing I live for really.
To be in love, to have a strong family, sweet friends, doing
what I love, finding love in movies, books, Sundays in the park.
I’m a romantic, so there you go. It does also play an important
role in photography, I think. But that’s more love for life.
Or how beautiful life can be, how beautiful every person is
in her/his way. To me a photo is great when I fall in love with it.
The simplest things make the best pictures.”
10½) WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE TO ADD?
“If in 10 years I’m still lying on my back in the dirt
to get that one perfect shot, hopefully shooting
grungy boys for Dazed or Hero magazine or with
a stranger I met on Tinder/Instagram, broke as fuck,
somewhere in a warm country, having some sunshine
on my back, I will be one very happy girl.”