Maurice Scheltens and Liesbeth Abbenes
Scheltens&Abbenes create commissioned photographs for a wide range of fashion and design companies.
We are a couple that works together on still life photography in various sectors such as design, fashion, art and culture. In our studio in Amsterdam we look from the point of view of the camera to build a composition with precision and an eye for detail. Our photography deals with graphic as opposed to three-dimensional spaces.
On family feeding into work
Our studio is connected to our living room; one system in which our kids can see what we do and we see what they do. Actually, our daughter is drawing a portrait next to me now. And the house itself has become a collaboration piece, with contributions from people we admire and work with. Some visitors have noticed that our work looks like our house — no wonder!
On working together
All ideas and decisions — the whole process of making — are developed together. We have to persuade each other in our individual ideas which makes working together an active and alert process. We are each other’s mirror, having realized long ago that we both feel the need to check the other for their opinion.
On giving life to objects
We discovered that all kind of objects — small or big, quotidian or design — can become interesting as long as we have the space to move around. Arper has given us this space through the years and we’ve built a visual language with them by stepping back from regular product photography. More broadly, and more than anything, it’s about having an idea. Any collection is comprised of objects, and they can be anything — even garbage! And these objects, or the situations in which they perform, talk back to the camera. They’re the starting point from where we begin to associate. Every time this process brings us somewhere different. In the end, where we’re brought is about the soul of the material we are working with.
On transforming the everyday
We like to go in unexpected directions, transforming common objects into something new. This way the object can hold your eye a bit longer, and make you wonder about something you have actually seen before without being aware of it. This moment of awareness is the click. By very precisely building our constellations of ‘objects,’ we achieve a super realistic image. As if we could organize this chaotic world. It gives a certain calming comfort. And for us, in post production we always go with the image that is made on set and never take over.
On collaboration and creativity
Working within the framework of a client often gives us a direction through which we experience great creative space rather than restriction — the start of an idea as well as an invitation to experiment on set.