Yeshen Venema has photographed the work of so many makers that he can proudly claim the title of ‘the designer/makers’ favourite photographer’. He has a passion for small creative businesses and understands what makers want and need for their shops and social media – as well as the things they struggle with when taking their own photos. We’ve been working with Yeshen for years, most recently on a series of location shoots for Folksy sellers in Wales, so we thought it was time we introduced him properly.
If you want to meet Yeshen and learn how to take better photos of your own work, he’ll be running a workshop on Sunday 27 November at the Weekend of the Maker. Click here to book your place.
Can you introduce yourself and explain what you do?
I’m Yeshen and I’m a professional photographer. My focus is on micro businesses and small shops, creating images from my Islington studio. I also work with Squarespace to create websites – this came out of a desire to showcase my client’s products in the best way.
How would you describe your style?
My lighting style is directional, bright but diffused. I keep things simple when it comes to props. I love texture, I work with contrasting materials and colours to create depth. I work with clients directly in the studio, so my style is tailored to what the client needs for their website and social channels.
Lampshade by Bear Print Design, photographed by Yeshen as part of his Folksy photo shoot in Wales
How did you get to where you are now?
Hard work. Shooting 5-6 times per week for four years. I must say the support of wife Natasha was essential when I went freelance. The first six months were tough as I found my first clients but after meeting more designers word-of-mouth became the most powerful marketing tool. I would include social media there, initially Twitter and more recently Instagram. I also write for blogs, give presentation and workshops, and partner with organisations in the design and craft sectors.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
Pheasants Cushion by Gloria Dean, photographed by Yeshen on location in Wales
What would your top tip be to anyone hoping to start or already running their own creative business?
Only show your best work – first impressions are everything. Be a good person – it sounds obvious but in business how you behave is very important. Those little extra bits of personalised customer service go a long way – you can see how big brands are craving that ‘craft’ feeling by tapping into this sector. We have this by default! It’s the golden age for stating your own business, so make your website and shop look their best, learn how to use the internet and social media but also switch off your phone sometimes. The support of a partner can be worth so much too.
Yeshen’s studio in Islington, north London, purpose-built for product photography. More pics here
Can you tell us bit more about your workshop at the Weekend of the Maker? What will you be covering and what will people come away with?
I’ll be sharing tips from my four years shooting products in the studio, covering all materials and product types. Designers and makers can bring along their own products and I’ll show them how to get better results for their product shots and social media photos with whatever camera they have.
While I’m there also going to be offering mini product shoots for makers, shooting individual products as cut-outs or against a light background, as well as longer shoots too for anyone who’s interested. [Email Yeshen at firstname.lastname@example.org for details.]
Jenny Sibthorp’s lobster print card, photographed by Yeshen
Yeshen’s website has recently been relaunched featuring a ‘Learn’ section with an archive of all his blog posts and presentations – for free! Go to www.yeshen.uk
Yeshen Venema will be running a workshop for designers, makers and craftspeople in Sheffield on Sunday 27 November 2016. He’ll show you how to take brilliant photographs of your products using only natural light and without any fancy equipment, and share tips for shooting them for your online shop. This session is about teaching the skills you need to take your own product shots, so expect to leave the workshop armed with lots of knowledge you can apply at home.
Featured photo: knitted throw, cushion and notebook cover by Jules Hogan