Born in Rotterdam in the Netherlands, living in Utrecht in Holland and half Spanish, Maria Stijger is a fashion photographer who has recently sprung to my attention. Her style of surrealism mixes with vintage meets modern. Maria’s playful personality results in beautiful images which if nothing else are aesthetically striking.
Maria, you’re images are beautifully created. How long have you been doing photography for?
I took my first photograph around the age of six and from then I always thought that it was a kind of magic. But I never picked it up seriously until I got out of high school, graduated from art school and after doing a lot of different things, including working as a photographer’s assistant. I started producing my own fashion stories about two years ago.
Is it true your work has been recognised by the Dutch publications of Elle and Marie Claire??
Yes, I’ve also had my work published in HMagazine (a magazine available in Barcelona) twice, and in professional and weekly magazines, newspapers, and once in a book about jewellery.
I really enjoyed the old fashioned-romantic-fairy tale-esc sequence of the photoshoot shown here:
What is the story behind this?
Well, I always like to make little fantasy stories, you can make up your own just looking at the series and here I was looking for an old feeling, using the atmosphere of the space that I found one day when I visited a party in the building. It’s a big building in the eastern part of Holland used by squatters. The guy that runs the place has a fantastic store inside it, where he sells all kinds of beautiful things he finds in old houses he restores. It is about a girl who is lost in time; she lives in a world of her own, surrounded by all this old stuff. She is a little bit weird, but happy and enjoying herself. She puts on shoes that are too big, plays with old porcelain dolls and likes funny hats. There is no story with a beginning and an end, but I like to make more images in my head, fantasize about what she does. I hope that others will do this too!
Do you prefer to work to a specific brief in your work?
No, in my personal work I really like to brainstorm in advance and come up with a lot of ideas, pick out the best and look for the right location, model and the stylist brings the clothes and things and we make our own décor if possible. But on the day of the shoot, I want to just let it all go and go with the flow of the day, see what comes on my path and switch if something doesn’t work. I like it when the whole team participates and gets excited and understands the feeling that I try to create and comes up with good ideas and then there is a buzz that I cannot describe…
Quite a lot of your work I found reflected some surrealism, would you say you have a specific style of photography, or does it vary?
I really love the Latin American magic realism and I try to use this in all my personal work as much as possible. I love surrealism, theatre and movies, things that are old. I love to mix it with modern age and fashion. I try to do this as often as I can, especially in my personal work, sometimes I like to go a little bit further than my commissioners want, so in the end my work varies quite a lot. But I like to show them that side as well so I always take some shots that link to this theme and sometimes they love it too!
Can you explain the series of gloves images?
This was a great series to make! We had so much fun! We wanted to do something with beautiful gloves, but not in a studio or with a model. So I came up with this idea to make animal shapes, shadow play. I have a very old magic lantern (Lanterna Magica) that gives this great old feeling because of the dust and the frame. So this was the perfect combination mixing the old with the new fashion. We sold this particular series to (Dutch) Elle magazine.
Who would you say influences and inspires you?
A lot! Things like literature, art, music, European film, but not specifically one person. There are so many great and diverse people that I love for what they do, I couldn’t point out just one.
Can you see a progression or a change in your work from when you first started to now?
Yes. In the beginning I only concentrated on landscapes and snapshots of people. Now I love to make stories using fashion. I’d say it’s a big change, and I guess it will never stop changing. I like to move around and experiment.
Do you have a muse?
No not really, I value my boyfriend’s opinion a lot. So in that sense I guess it’s him!
What do you do in your spare time?
At the moment I am expecting our first child, so my extra activities are not so exciting ha-ha. But I love going to the woods, going out with friends and listening to music. I also love to make sweet little stuffed monsters, exploring other realms of creativity! Most of my time is for photography though. And my family is very important too.
When you were younger, what did you wish to be when you grew up?
Ha-ha, first I wanted to be a dentist, but I loved arts and crafts and drawing so much, that I discovered that this was “my thing”. Although my parents were scared that I’d drown in the competition and of course it is more difficult for an artist to make a good living, I knew that there was no other option for me. I get bored quite easily, so I need to occupy myself doing creative things with other creative and inspiring people.
Thanks Maria, and good luck with the bun in the oven!
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