The industry insider: Yeshen Venema

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CAN YOU INTRODUCE YOURSELF AND EXPLAIN WHAT YOU DO?

Yeshen Venema, Product Photographer and Squarespace Specialist.

HOW DID YOU GET STARTED AND TO WHERE YOU ARE TODAY?

Although I studied Photography at school my post grad education was in marketing and I

worked in many roles across music, events and education. While working with a brand

called Nom Living I started taking all the product shots and over seeing their website

project. I enjoyed both so decided to go freelance. At the time my wife and I had a big

animation project which covered the bills while I built up my first clients by networking at

trade shows like Top Drawer and retail events like Spirit of Christmas. I also became fast

friends with the writer Katie Tregedden and she introduced me to basically everyone on

the design scene - which led to me specialising in working with makers and designers.

From my first mini studio (our lounge) to a dedicated studio on Thornhill Square I have

spent a lot of time in taxis and setting up equipment in strange locations. We’ve been here

5 years and love it.

HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE THE STYLE OF THE WORK YOU PRODUCE?

I shoot product and lifestyle images for makers, designers and small brands/shops. My

style has a clarity and focus on the product, the stylists I work with help me create images

for a huge variety of businesses but the consistent factor is the clarity.

What’s your creative process once you’ve been given a brief?

This starts way before I get the brief, I send all new clients my Shoot Prep resource which

covers everything they need to know regarding preparing for shoots from props and

styling to the end use of the images. A stylist is involved at least 50% of the time and I am

fortunate to with with some very talented stylists, you can read about them at

www.yeshen.uk/stylists.

If there is a lot of lifestyle images required the stylist will work directly with the client to

prepare the style of the shoot covering surfaces/backgrounds, props and mocking up

concepts for the images. We often search through markets, antique and charity shops for

the right props - definitely one of the highlights of the job. Clients often do not realise that

they have beautiful props at their own home, or available from their family.. such unique

items are more effective at telling a story than brand new things from the high street.

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WHAT’S BEEN YOUR MOST DIFFICULT CREATIVE CHALLENGE SO FAR?

I would say on the technical creativity side shooting the LED light bulbs for Well Lit for the

first time or the shoot I did for ceramicist Maggie Zefara. Both shoots required me to dive

deep into the bible of product photography (Light, Science, Magic if anyone is interested)

One thing that brands might not know about the service you offer?

I often do shoots and websites for the same client, sometimes even on the same day.

Ceramicist Jacqui Ramrayka is a great example, we did a shoot in the morning and built her

website in the afternoon - I could only do this with Squarespace and I love to work this way.

The sense of transformation is so satisfying.

WHAT’S THE PROJECT YOU’RE MOST PROUD OF?

The shots I have done for Well Lit literally transformed their business. They had a fantastic

product but no professional images. Seeing them grow their business and opening a box

with my images on the packaging was incredibly satisfying.

What would be your advice to smaller brands wanting to invest in you?

Investing in professional photography is crucial if you want to sell your work, either online or

in person. The confidence boost a client gets from a set of high quality images is hard to

beat.

5 TIPS FOR OUR MEMBERS ON WORKING WITH A PROFESSIONAL PHOTOGRAPHER?

1.

Make sure the photographer is a good fit for your brand. Every top photographer has a

speciality and this should be obvious from looking at their portfolio. Some are right for

shooting reflective jewellery, others are great at portraits - find the right one for the job.

2.

Start thinking about the shoot a few months ahead and plan the session alongside the

photographer and stylist. A day can pass very quickly and you need to make you sure you

make the most of the time and get the images you need.

3.

Think about how you’ll be using your images in the year ahead and pay particular attention

to specific crops and layouts you’ll need - for example, if you need a wide image with space

to the right, make this clear to the photographer/stylist.

4.

Less is usually more, less shots, less props, less stressful logistics… simplify where you can

and focus on what is special about your products.

5.

Enjoy it! A shoot is a day out of the studio/office for you and a chance to get some

perspective on your work. If you plan well, it should be an inspiring day.

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