Spoon {meets} : Yeshen Venema

The makers’ favourite photographer is a big title to live up to. Yeshen Venema knows it well - he has earned it with hard work and a little bit of clever thinking. Yeshen is almost obsessively loved by makers and designers, and his studio is open to everyone - "unless it’s tacky", Yeshen smiles.

We meet him at his Islington based studio. Yeshen just got back from a daily morning run.  "As a freelancer you have to move", he tells us,"especially if you are working from home - it’s so easy to spend all day in front of a screen. It gives you a healthy lift of positivity". He now has a shoot most days, a lot in times when many photographers are struggling to make ends meet. "I get days when it feels a little like I am working - it’s the first sign something went wrong".

What can other freelancers learn from Yeshen? We asked about his story and ways of making a living without a 9 to 5 routine.

How did you get into photography?

My mother was a photojournalist, seeing her with a camera permanently round her neck was a major influence. I was a DJ for a while and I create websites now alongside the photography, so I guess I’m attracted to the behind the scenes type of professions.

In terms of product photography I worked for a friend’s company (www.nomliving.com) and photographed most of their inventory. This lead to going freelance and meeting designer/makers, now I specialise that sector.

Can you describe your style?

I’m not into the high end, super clean commercial product photography. My style is more natural, using graduated lighting, minimal props and mixing up textures.

What is your dream project?

I love working directly with designers who know their brand, this means they have a clear plan for the shoot and we can bring in some experimentation if times allow.

A dream project would involve a long road trip finding undiscovered talents, creating stories along the way.

What is the hardest thing about being a creative?

Too many ideas!

Can you walk us through your day?

I work from a home studio, so no commute. I’ll tidy the studio the night before and often go for a morning run. Shoots normally start around 9.30am and until I see the products I don’t know for sure how to approach the shoot. If it’s a new client it can take a while to get into the flow, but we live in such a chilled area (with a view of a big garden square) that visitors feel relaxed immediately.

I usually shoot the product shots first, then do lifestyle in afternoon. I prefer if the designer is here with me and prefer 2-3 people max in at the shoot.

What is your stress reliever? What tips can you share with other creatives struggling to keep work and life balance?

Running, walking and watching documentaries/films.

What or who recently inspired you?

My wife Natasha is a constant inspiration, she has an incredible drive.. it was through her support that I had the courage to go freelance two years ago.

In terms of films, I actually found the new Mad Max film quite inspiring, even though the plot was basically a long car chase, the fact it was edited by a woman and was not your usual macho action flick made it interesting.

Tell us about your mornings. Do you have a breakfast ritual?

I make up our musilli using a base and all kinds of ingredients like seeds, coconut flakes, cinnamon, Psyllium Husks, Chia seeds, nuts and Quinoa Flakes! Then add fruit and yogurt and sometimes top that with granola.. keeps us going!

What’s your favourite brunch spot?

Sunday on Hemmingford Road and The Grain Store on Granary Square are both excellent.

How do you like your granola?

Lots of yogurt and fruit. I wish we had a roof terrace so we could sit in the morning sun.. it’s always sunny in the morning right?

Yeshen's website is perfect to discover beautiful design objects and makers from all around the world. And his email signature says something very truthful about his work: "Photography is not about the thing photographed. It is about how that thing looks photographed." Garry Winogrand. 

Spoon {meets}: about

At Spoon, we are interested and excited to explore creative lifestyles.  With freelance becoming the fastest growing profession in the world, working remotely has become commonplace. From our own experience this can feel a little lonely at times, which is why we hope to create a collaborative platform that helps creativity to flow.

‘Breakfast with creatives’ is a series of conversations over a bowl of granola with inspirational creatives about work and life balance, keeping up motivation, staying inspired and living a healthy and creatively fulfilled life.

We aim for this to become a destination for creative people to discover each other’s work and lifestyle choices over an honest breakfast chat.