Renée Kemps

Slowing Down With Rituals

Renee Kemps

Over the past couple of months I've been struggling with having a healthy work-life balance. Work and traveling is fun and I love meeting so many new people and working wherever my job takes me, but it totally messes up the balance. Weeks are filled with appointments, shoot days, hours and hours of editing, flights, travel days and events - I'm never home regularly. 

I also have a hard time switching off from work. I'm always checking my email, editing a few more photos, thinking about new projects, or preparing next assignments. I go to bed thinking about my to-do list, running through my week schedule, or ticking off what I need to pack for a new shoot. I go to bed with a full head, a restless body. Which is definitely not the way it should be. 
So sometimes, I need to slow down.


Slowing down to me means pressing the pause button for all the above. And lately, I’ve been loving some skin-care products to do so. It feels so good to spend time on self-care and create a moment of relaxation. With a face mask, for instance, you simply can't rush. You really have to slow down - the whole process of applying and taking it off. Especially with a mud & charcoal mask like this one, which dries and cracks and requires some time (and is a lot of fun!).


What I love even more than face masks, are oils and serums. These are the ones that really make me relax because of the special ingredients and massaging movements. After showering (steaming) and cleansing my face, I'll have some relaxing serum or calming oil and massage my face for as long as it feels good - focusing on the temples, forehead and neck to relieve tension and stress. The movements and smell of white lotus and mint makes me really slow down for a moment, forget about the daily hustle, and get me ready for some sleep.

100% Natural Purifying Mud & Charcoal Mask
The Ritual of Dao Relaxing Serum
The Ritual of Dao Calming Body & Massaging Oil

Collab - Rituals

Sunshine & Cool Cars on My Mind

Renee Kemps

I've been putting this off for too long. Weeks, months now - sharing photos (and words) from my US road trip back in November. Perhaps I didn't know where to start. Whether to do it chronologically, or just a selection of the highlights. To put a lot of photos togehter, or divide everything in smaller, shorter posts and just go for it.
Decided on the latter.


After sharing the above photo on Instagram yesterday, I felt like I just had to start here. This is in Palm Springs - where there's sunshine and cool cars everywhere. It was towards the end of our trip, and really a warm, sunny, cool welcome after hundreds of kilometres on the road. 

We cycled around, enjoyed the sunshine, the architecture, the incredible Mexican food and millions of palm trees - obviously. Many good, relaxed memories from this place. Cool cars and incredible architecture to dream of, and hold on to - until a next visit.


An Escape to Quiet and Beauty - Masseria Moroseta

Renee Kemps

It’s been a week since I came back from Puglia, Italy. From Masseria Moroseto. From blue skies and Italian sunshine.

I’m back in rainy London, where the February cold hits me hard and makes me long for this place that I have just left, or spring and summer in general. February in Italy isn’t that bad. Although it’s colder than you think it is, the sun’s out and spring seems to be so close – birds are singing, the first blossoms are there, swimming in turquoise pools doesn’t even seem to be that bad of an idea.

Masseria Moroseta is a modern country house in the middle of olive tree fields, with ocean views and sunsets over the white city Ostuni. The house is like a white oasis in never ending green fields. The perfect place to submerge yourself in nothing but quietness and beauty.

Although it was a work trip, it was a very welcome escape from hectic London. It’s been difficult the past few months, and it feels like I have lost myself a little on the way. Breathing in the fresh air, walking though olive tree fields with beautiful sunsets, and dipping my toes into an ice cold February swimming pool has treated me well. This was the place for quietness and beauty, to get ready again for the struggle here.

Japanese Interior Crush

Renee Kemps

I have fallen for Japanese interiors. For all the minimalism, all the bamboo, all the emptiness. Traditionally, Japanese interior design was ruled by little daylight, lots of shadows, and naturally dark materials. However, these days whites and brightness seem to be as present. All come together in unknown aesthetic beauty, creating emptiness with what would normally fill spaces up, creating something traditional Japanese yet modern.

The result is a mix of white spaces and dark places everywhere you go. All the galleries seem to be empty, white and spacious. All the traditional houses, restaurants and cafes seem to be the opposite. And then there’s a mingling of both, the obviously American fast food vibes, and the technology hype with neon-lights, street signs, and moving images. Places are stacked on top of each other, going 6 or 7 floors up, and changing from the traditional wooden looks to those fast food neons, to modern minimalist spaces all in one small building. And there’s another 100 buildings on the left side, and another 50 on the right side. And that is only one street, in a city of 14 million people. Tokyo is confusing.

But, there are also places like this one, Sahsya Kanetanaka, located in the busy centre of Tokyo. It makes you forget all those differences, all the hectic street life, all the new against the old. Everything is in harmony – it embraces traditional as well as modern, and emphasises nothing but that Japanese praised minimalism, the use of natural materials and colours and emptiness. Above all, it makes you fall in love with Japanese interiors.

Sprouted Flour Bagels w/ Beet & Honey Cured Salmon

Renee Kemps

These days, I get swept off my feet so easily – because of inspiring food documentaries I see, interesting culinary expositions I go to, or amazing people I talk to. I’m completely carried away by talks, thoughts and ideas. Everything is inspiring, exciting and something I’d like to do, yet I feel a little lost and scared where to begin myself.

One of these talks was a couple of weeks ago with someone who has set up a brand close to my heart; quality as the standard, super tasty, kind people, local products and collaborations with farmers. Exactly what I love. We were talking for hours about his company, food, movements, and ideas, and it gave me so much energy and happy feelings. We ended having a discussion about flours and how sad it is that most of the flours, or grain-y products we have around us are over processed, resulting in something that has little flavour and lacks the nutritions they originally had. We need to go back to the unprocessed and natural flours, and when doing so – using these freshly milled, and sprouted flours – it will not only blow your mind taste wise, but also give you an enormous nutritional kick.

Like the documentaries I see and the expositions I go to, that talk kept me awake at night and absent-minded during the days. I started doing some/a lot research online because I wanted to know more and investigate the opportunities of using sprouted flours. Now – many attempts later – I’m hooked.

Sprouted flours are made from sprouted grains. It’s the whole grain, sprouted, with nothing added and nothing taken away. When it sprouts, it becomes a little vegetable, which breaks down the starch in the flour. Energy (not fat) sugars are formed which give it a lovely, new and exciting taste. It will also be packed with nutrients, with all the ‘sleeping’ vitamins and minerals in grains coming to life by sprouting them. It also breaks down the grain’s natural protective barrier, which makes it easier to digest. (link)
+ you can just substitute your normal flours for sprouted ones, which makes it super easy to use in all your baking & making.


Sprouted Flour Bagels
Makes 4

I highly recommend you to use sprouted flour, but all purpose flour works just as well, of course.
Bagels + home cured salmon + cream cheese is one of my favourite combinations. But, you can top these off with anything you like.
It’s still relatively difficult to find sprouted flours (at least here in Holland). You can make it yourself by milling (organic) sprouts or you can even sprout the grains yourself and then mill them. Since a lot of you (mainly U.S.) asked for it, I’ve looked it up and found some (online) companies you can buy it from: To Your Health and King Arthur.

3 1/2 cup sprouted (whole) wheat flour
1 1/4 cup lukewarm water
1 1/2 tbs honey
2 tsp dry active yeast
1 tsp sea salt
1 egg
3 tbs white sesame seeds
3 tbs black sesame seeds
3 tbs caraway seeds

Cured salmon (see recipe below)
Cream cheese
Fresh dill

In a small bowl, combine water and honey. Whisk to dissolve.
Add the yeast and stir. Set aside until foamy, about 5 minutes.
In a bowl of a mixer with a dough hook, whisk together flour and salt. Add the yeast mixture and let it knead for about 10 minutes, until super smooth and elastic.
Shape into a ball with your hands, put it in an oiled bowl and cover with cling film. Let rise on a warm spot for about 1 hour.
After an hour, turn the dough out on a floured surface. Divide into 8 and roll each piece into a ball. Press your finger through the middle to make the hole.
Let them rest for 10-20 minutes.
Meanwhile, preheat oven to 190C.
Bring a pot with water to a boil. Place the bagels in there – they should float – and cook for 1 minute on each side. Take out and place on a baking sheet.
Whisk the egg. Brush the bagels with egg wash and sprinkle the seeds on top.
Bake for about 20-25 minutes, until golden brown.
Let them cool completely.

Beet & Honey cured Salmon
For +/- 500 gr salmon

500 gr fresh salmon
1 large beet
1 cup sea salt
2 tbs honey

If necessary, clean the salmon – pull out pin bones / remove tough cartilage / cut away white flesh.
Skin the salmon by running placing it skin-side down, placing your hand on top and running a knife along the skin.
Grate the beet, place them in a cheesecloth and squeeze to get all the water out.
In a piece of cheesecloth/tea towel big enough to wrap your salmon, place the grated beets on the bottom, in the shape of the salmon filet.
Sprinkle half of the sea salt, and drizzle half of the honey on the beets.
Place the salmon filet on top. Sprinkle the other half of the salt and drizzle the remaining tbs of honey on top of the filet.
Firmly wrap the salmon, place into a oven tray, and put it in the fridge.
Let it cure for two to three days.
Remove it from the fridge, take it out of the cloth/tea towel and scrape off the beets, salt and honey. Give it a gentle rinse under cold water to get everything off.
Cut in thin slices and serve with whatever you like.

Santa Clara 1728

Renee Kemps

I have lost my heart to Lisbon. This city, where I had never been up to 2 months ago, has impressed me enormously during my two short visits. The first time, I arrived in the Portugese heat – mid summer, sweaty, blue skies, full sunshine. The city is hilly, with beautiful old houses, many soft pastels, surprisingly lots of lush green and of course there’s amazing Portuguese food. I was sold, immediately. The second time, just a week ago, I was there for a quick shoot. It was still as summer-y, and still as lovely.

In Lisbon’s Old Quarter, Alfalma, there’s Santa Clara 1728 – a house of dreams. I walked in on my first day in Lisbon and totally fell in love. The apartments are stunning – they’re spacious, with minimalist design, soft falling curtains, light natural wooden floors, the most beautiful four poster bed, Scandinavian wooden chairs, and a marble bath and sinks. The light coming in from the windows on both sides, hitting all that soft coloured wood, makes the room a little pink-ish. The floors spread a sandalwood scent.

For my second visit, Santa Clara 1728 was our first shoot location. I couldn’t have been more excited to be back and to be at this beautiful house again, where you feel so at home. They bake fresh bread in the morning to wake you up, and bake you cake in the afternoon for some tea and sweets – it’s all about that warm feeling, being at home, stepping back from your busy day-to-day life and taking a moment to realise how good it feels. It is all about their concept of silent living – to be there, slow down, create memories, and take this home and keep it with you.