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#PeopleToWatch : Sarah van Rij

Sarah by Sophie van der Perre

Last week we had the opportunity to sit down with the lovely and talented Sarah van Rij. This Amsterdam based creative queen is best known for her work as creative director of the successful Dutch department store chain, Hutspot. We first got to know Sarah when she directed the shoot for Hutspot x Renard. We bonded with her immediately over love for the beautiful city of Paris and old French films.

Sarah has a bright and bubbly personality, loads of energy, and pure raw talent. It is easy to see why she is one of our #PeopleToWatch.

What is a day in the life of Sarah van Rij?

That depends on whether I am working or not. A working day is very different than a free day for me. A working day for me is mostly at the office but I’m also out doing photoshoots and having meetings. I like being at the office, but I am trying to working on getting out a bit more. Also since I’m creative it’s important for to not only be in one place everyday all day. Luckily, I have a great job where I am given a lot of freedom.

 The things I do for my job are always changing and exciting. Of course I have my standard tasks that I do every week, but there is always a lot of exciting and new things developing within the company and I love having the freedom to create.  When I am free, I like to go to the movies for example. Another thing that I love to do is just walk around the city.

I usually bring my camera with me and love to snap shots that just appear in front of your eye instead of creating them from a to z.

 Other than that, I also really love to visit museums. A few weeks ago, I went to the new Voorlinden modern art museum in Wassenaar, where I grew up actually.

 I just really enjoy being out and getting inspired.

Lierre en Fleurs - Matisse

Can you tell us how your fascination for photography began?

Actually my fascination for photography developed in a very natural way. I never did a study for it and it back in the day, it wasn’t necessarily my biggest passion.  But at the same time, I always had an interest in images which really started around the age 14. I started by collecting images I liked, then I created a Tumblr about 9 years ago. There, I had a place to put all the images together. Then I started to take pictures myself randomly, not even with a real camera at first. There was a time where I just bought disposable cameras.

 Eventually, I got the job at Hutspot and it was within my function to create the visual look for the stores. I started a Tumblr and Instagram for the store and also started shooting content. That is actually the point when it went really fast for me, let’s say about four years ago.

I have always had it in me to see the world and think “oeh that’s a nice picture”. I would always take mental snapshots. It went from occasionally taking photos to it really becoming a part of me. Also everyone around me really supported me and would constantly urge me to buy my first camera, and so I ended up doing that two years ago and it has been one of my best purchases.

What was your first camera actually?

Well I did actually already have some small analog cameras which I would use occasionally, but my first real digital camera was a Panasonic with a Leica lens. It’s a really nice and pretty underestimated camera. It is small but it can do a lot. It’s not an SLR camera but it generates great quality images. That was my first camera and I have shot a lot with it.

I am actually about to buy a new camera, a Fujifilm. I see it as the next step and it is actually quite a bit of an investment, but it is worth it. Especially because I have discovered that photography is such a big part of me. I also use my camera so often that I really want to invest in it. Besides that, I am using a very small analog camera, a Rollei 35 se.

 Photos taken by Sarah in Paris

What was your most memorable shoot?

It’s difficult for me to say because my personal work varies so much from my work for Hutspot. For Hutspot my creative process is a bit more commercial because it is for a brand or series of brands that we sell. This means of course that you have to be mindful of what fits with the brand and what fits with Hutspot.

It’s just so hard to choose one shoot because I have shot so many people but I know that when I look back at earlier shoots I have done I am very critical and actually don’t like a lot of them so much anymore.

 I really like the Hoxton series we made with Sigrid ten Napel and Yousef and his girlfriend and Sophie van der Perre. Sophie is actually one of my best friends, she is a photographer and it was my first time taking pictures of her. It was really nice for this shoot because I know her well so it creates a nice energy and it generates really pure images, of course you can also make something very beautiful with someone you don’t know but still it makes the whole process a bit more natural.

 I just really loved shooting the entire Hoxton series because it was a bit intimate because you are actually in a hotel room together and you can imagine what people usually do there it’s just really fun and I loved the vibe of it all.

 Another very memorable shoot for me is a very recent one actually, it is going to be published this week. It was shot on a tennis court in Ijberg, and the setting just created a really cool effect.

Editorial for Hutspot

 Your sister is also a creative director; do you ever work together? How do you influence each other creatively?

That’s quite funny because we are very close and also live together. Basically, besides being sisters we are also friends. We definitely motivate each other and we are able to talk about concepts together. I think it’s also funny to see that even though we are sort of in the same field of work, we are still different in our style and approach.

 Rose works for a big international brand that is very focused on a specific image, look and feel. Their target is mostly (young) independent women and the feeling of freedom. My work is of course focused on a lot of different brands and I am really inspired by movies and movie stills.

 My sister also mainly shoots analog which is also quite funny because I shoot mainly digital. I also really love analog, but for my job it is not very convenient. Rose shoots most of her content at once (in three weeks on a trip for example to LA) but for Hutspot I have to shoot much more sporadically. With film the process can take a bit longer and that can be a bit of a hassle for the type of work I do.

 We have also said to each other that it would be really cool if one day we could start something together, but first we both wanted to gain experience working for a company/brand. Although our styles are a bit different, they are not too far apart that it wouldn’t work. So who knows, maybe one day we will come together!

Sarah by Roos van Rij for Lovers and Drifters Club 

If your life was a movie, which artist/songs would be in the soundtrack?

Oooh! That’s a very nice question, I like that. But hard to answer because my music taste is diverse! If you look at my playlist it can really be anything on there. But here are a few which I definitely would want in my movie soundtrack;

 Chet Baker (love almost all of his songs)

Doug Hream Blunt - Gentle Persuasion

Roy Ayers - everybody loves the sunshine

Gillian Hills - zou bisou bisou

Rhye - 3 days

Chicco - I need some money

 You have great personal style, what are some staple items in your wardrobe?

Well I must say, it’s was my birthday on the 28th of October and of course I was going to go have dinner but I didn’t have time to go and buy a nice outfit so I got ‘’stressed’’ about what I was going to wear because I always say that my closet is more built upon daytime clothing. I don’t know why, I do like to dress up but it is just so much more particle and I like casual item so much more. Also, I do like to go out, don’t get me wrong, but not like enough to think about buying special items to wear when I do. But maybe I need to because sometimes it’s a little bit annoying.

 Basically the conclusion is that I just like comfortable staple items that are really good quality.

 Renard Watches are elegant, timeless and alluring. How would you describe your own personal style in three words?

Hmm… I think my style could also be described as timeless because I mainly wear basics and I don’t really follow trends. It’s a bit hard to think of what three words describe me actually. I have never really thought about this, I should take the time to do that sometime.

What do you like about Renard?

Well what I really like is that I have a very big thing for Paris and the French culture in general so that was the thing that initially attracted me to Renard. I really like how you guys brand that and express that Parisienne feeling visually.

I wear the Elite Eggshell Silver Link Small, and it is quite funny because before I started wearing it I never had a watch. At first I was not sure if wearing a watch was my thing but then I really got used to it! I remember I didn’t wear it for two days and it felt really weird not to have it on anymore. I always wear the same silver jewellery and the watch just suits it well.

To see more of Sarah's work visit her website or Instagram


Stephanie Pot
Stephanie Pot


1 Response

margot ten caat
margot ten caat

November 29, 2016

Awsome portret

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