Do you work together regularly and if so how do you go about it?
R: We don't work together as often as we would like to. Marijke as photographer is often able to create her own team and then we work together.
In what ways can you complement each other when on set?
M: Renate's opinion is very important to me. She often brings me back down to earth when I get unnecessarily, overly creative. I often make her tired if I need her opinion on selecting images and retouching work, but she is one person I really trust. She is very honest with me and will share her creativity with me to get to final artwork. She is my favourite person to work with, not just because she is a brilliant make-up artist and stylist, but also because we know each other so well, I can say left and she knows I mean right. We understand and balance each other so much, we make a great team.
R: My sister has always a lot of faith in me. I believe that if it wasn't for her I wouldn't be where I am today. She has always inspired me to be my own person and not care what others think of me. As a young teenager I always got mocked for my fashionable clothing. In the industry it helps me to cope with all the critics in my job. She helps me to be more and pushes me to my full potential.
Renate, what qualities do you value in Marijke as a photographer?
R: What I appreciate most is the special attention that she gives to create something unique, not just a beautiful picture but to add an idea behind it all. Her lighting is a very important factor, and can be seen in her unique style. She can also see the qualities in her model and enhance it. Her passion and love can be seen in all the energy she adds to her projects.
I really admire her willingness to do whatever it takes to get the best shot by either lying on the floor or climbing a tree. Besides her passion for photography, she has a way to make someone relaxed around her. It is also important for me as make-up artist that she communicates well. Her loyalty can be seen with even the styling she adds to her work. Her knowledge and wisdom makes her a great photographer and her humbleness and care for others makes her a great person behind the camera. She is hardworking and willing to do anything for her love for photography.
Marijke what qualities do you value in Renate as a makeup artist?
M: Renate is a beautiful person on the inside and the outside. Hardworking like our parents taught us, she has reached great goals in her life at an early age. She is always willing to help others, and even that can be seen in her work. She will never be satisfied with something that is ugly or not fully executed; she will try her best to reach to perfection. Her creativity with colour is always exceptional to see. She has never been afraid to dare. I will always give her something and she will turn it into something better - a wonderful surprise. Something I really love about her make-up is most certainly her skin application. She can create anything from natural to extreme, never overworked, just a hint of a stylish signature.
Renate what was your best job ever?
R: My personal choice would also be the ones where I had the freedom to create what I visualized. That normally happens if we shoot fashion for designers and can push creativity. One such project was with Irvinx, I had the freedom to create and experiment. I created a look with Abstract lines to fit the fashion designer's style.
Marijke what was your best job ever?
M: I always find it difficult to say, it is all about personal taste. If we can play without strict limits and create something out of the ordinary I am in! I just shot for a bank where I got creative freedom to execute beautiful pictures. It consisted of conceptualising ideas and locations to execute final ideas. It was a big project and I learned a lot. The images were very abstract and visually pleasing. The idea was to take something simple like a calculator and change it into something different.
M&R: The nicest projects are those when we have our own freedom to create our own images. Just like when we were younger, the greatest is to work together and explore our creativity to the limits. We would love to have the freedom to create a world, where we are the art directors. It is our little adventure of make-pretend coming true.
What made you decide
on your chosen of career?
M: From a young age, photography has always been an interest of mine. My first camera was a gift from my parents when I was 10 and since then I have never decided to put down the camera. I couldn't think of anything else I wanted to do for the rest of my life. Photography has never been a career choice, rather a natural development from childhood games to my every day passion. Photography has grown with me as I aged; it went with me all the way. It is not my passion, but my everyday life. What a blessing to actually live your passion everyday as a career. Another side to my photography would be Renate, my sister, make-up artist. She always loved playing dress up with my mom's clothes and make-up.
R: At the age of 6 I regularly got chased out of my mom's room, well groomed of course. I messed up all her make-up and added too much blush. Where other children played with crayons, I played with my eye pencils and make-up brushes to colour in my picture to play as model for my sister and her camera. Our make pretend games became our reality. I have a big love for art and love to paint. At school I would rather work on an art piece than do my colourless math project. Make-up to me is a form of art, just like in art you have to prepare the canvas before you can brush away. Like that everything starts with foundation before you enhance all the great qualities in someone's face.
We do not see our careers as work, rather a passion that we enjoy each day.
How did you learn your trade? Do you have any further education or specialities?
M: My first education in photography, except for the camera manual and hobby photographer uncle, was at The National College of Photography at the age of 15. I have learned and experimented on my own a lot. I made a lot of mistakes, but could learn from them to advance myself. At the age of 19 I had my first portfolio ready to get my talent out there in order to get in the industry, as I didn't have any proper schooling in Photography. The start of a new learning curve started when a well-known South African Photographer saw my portfolio.
For four and a half years she played a major part in my knowledge of Photography. We also switched from Film to Digital Photography. Individual Photoshop courses taught me not to just take pictures but to be able to re look and create print ready pictures. I was willing to learn every aspect of Photography. In 2004 I studied at the Foto Academie, Amsterdam, the Netherlands: Vakopleiding: Modereklame.
My time in the Netherlands not only taught me to grow in myself, but I took another step in Photography if not more. I hope that I would also have a European influence in my work even if it is a little one.
R: Just like my sister experimented with her camera, trying to master each function, I had to always be in front of camera to capture the human element. From a young age I was her model and I had to know the fashions of each season. My sister inspired me to be me, to create my own interesting creations, rather than to buy the latest fashion in the stores.
At the age of 14 I already worked on sets and with my own experiences I could have worked on models. With my sister shooting a lot with models, I learned to style, make clothes and to do make-up and hair. At 15 I started getting individual classes with well-known make-up artists.
At the age of 16 I started to work professionally and after my senior education I started to work permanently for Mac Cosmetics South Africa. After a few years I decided to join my sister in the Netherlands. I wanted to learn more about hair and did a course at The Hair School, Amsterdam. This was my foundation for more development in my career.
Where do you get your inspiration from and who is your role model?
M: I love Helmet Newton, Guy Bourdin, Carli Hermes and Erwin Oelaf. The simplest things can inspire me, only add composition and style.
My eyes are always busy to create visual concepts in my head. My greatest inspiration is to be creative and original. I always want a fresh and new perspective, my sister has a great influence on my work, giving her advice and adding to my inspiration.
R: Benjamin Pakkie and Pat Mcgraph's work are really inspirational for me. I always try to find inspiration in nature and everything around me. There is so much beauty out there, you should just open your eyes and want to see it.
Renate what are your favourite makeup and hair brands?
R: My favourite make-up is definitely M.A.C .I needed to know my product in order to sell it, but I had no need to lie to sell it. I really believe in it. The quality is totally worth the price you are paying for. There is nothing worse than colours that fade or don’t show. Mac stays on and that is why I believe in it. With hair products I would say Redken but also love Biosilk.
Marijke with what equipment do you prefer to work?
M: In my creative world I use Canon to capture the moment. Briese and Bowens helps me to light up the object. If I am not behind my camera, I am sitting in front of my MacBook Pro working on images.
You now live in Africa. What made you decide to get started there?
M: I was born in South Africa but raised in a half Dutch household. I have always loved the Netherlands and culture as my dad is Dutch. My dutch experience has been great and I loved the infrastructure, good coffee and photographic inspiration. The two countries are very different and should not be compared. I really miss to be in the Netherlands, but I do believe I am supposed to be in South Africa at this moment. Maybe it is the nature, sunrises and opportunities in South Africa at the moment but I am hoping to someday soon look at the Netherlands through my camera's viewfinder.
R: I love South Africa, especially my family and friends who I missed dearly whilst abroad in Holland. I am a family person and don't want to miss special moments of their lives. I also think it is time to settle, and that I would rather do in my homeland, South Africa. I will never forget the Netherlands, but I feel more at home in South Africa.
What did you love most about working in the Netherlands?
M: I learned to use natural light rather than lots of studio lights. Creating amazing images often means going back to basics. I love abstract, lines and simplicity and appreciate how the Dutch use this to maximum effect. The models in the Netherlands are very professional yet still have a natural way about them, making them a real pleasure to work with.
R: I am doing more print work in South Africa where in the Netherlands; I worked more on Film and TV. On a shooting day there are always unique characters that make the story line interesting.
Name one of your most memorable jobs:
M: With each project there has been something special that happened. I am busy participating in a competition to see all the A's in South Africa. It has been very interesting. Being away from South Africa has made me appreciate its raw untouched beauty so much more.
The project had to show all aspects of South Africa and so we ended up on a road trip travelling more than 4000km
We got to a ride an ostrich and saw many great natural attractions. We learned so many different things that we never knew about our own country.
R: I get great satisfaction if the result is overwhelming. I try not to change someone rather to enhance their best features. That highlights the great moments in my life!
What is your ultimate goal or ambition?
M: To be an international photographer, but also to always capture the things I love. There are times when I don't like certain projects, but to be known one day for the things I love shooting.
R: My goal is to get recognition for what I do. To become famous for what I love. My dream is to bring out my own make-up range, with all the experience and qualities I have acquired in the make-up field. I would love to be an inspiration to others throughout my career.
After four successful years in the Netherlands these two ambitious sisters have returned to African Soil to follow their dreams.