Yeshen Venema


Blog for Photographer Yeshen Venema. Features tips, links interviews and behind the scenes stories.

Sue Ure Ceramics

We had a wonderful time working with ceramicist Sue Ure last week, her ceramics are incredibly photogenic. From her studio in south-western France, Sue creates hand-thrown tableware and vases and also designs other work under the name Sue Ure Maison. Mugdha and I used some of our custom surfaces and minimal props to showcase the colours and forms.

Here are some highlights.


Read more about Sue's work at:

Yeshen on Google+
Client Feature: Byron & Gomez

Following our studio shoot with this talented duo wanted to hear more about how they work. We asked a few Qs and they graciously wrote back, read on...

How and when did Byron & Gomez come into being?

Charles and I met whilst studying furniture-making at Williams & Cleal Furniture School in Somerset. We never really discussed making a business together it just happen naturally. We both share a passion for craft and we both enjoy designing and making furniture, it was just right.

In their Somerset studio. Photo: Together and Sunspell

In their Somerset studio. Photo: Together and Sunspell

Your furniture pieces are beautiful and so perfectly made. Tell us a bit about your design process and inspiration.

We very much enjoy designing together, often we start by each of us designing something on our own to then give each other input to improve or change the designs. Sometimes in the design process we reach an impasse where we both prefer our own direction for the design and are not willing to compromise, this can sometimes stall a design for weeks until we eventually find a third way that we are both happy with and is always better than something either of us would have come up with on our own.

Penumbra Sideboard

Penumbra Sideboard

Furniture is not an easy product. What is the thing you love most about being furniture designer/makers? What do you like the least?

We love furniture and the freedom of being able to explore our designs through making is what keeps us interested, the more we make and learn about woodworking the more we expand our possibilities in designing. Hand-made furniture is not an impulse buy and we admit that our biggest challenge is selling it.

Patria Cabinet. Shot at our London studio. Styling by Mugdha Sapte.

Patria Cabinet. Shot at our London studio. Styling by Mugdha Sapte.

As a duo are there pros and cons of working together?

Absolutely, Charles and I are good at very different things so we compliment each other. We get along and we are very good friends so working together is always a fun adventure for us, we share all the highs and lows of being self employed. Cons will probably be that sometimes we can get on each others toes as we live and work together.

Click below to view some behind the scenes images from the shoot.

Do you have differences of opinions?

Yes, frequently. Most of our disagreements are about designs, its the one place where we are very stubborn.

How do you resolve these during the design and making process?

Whenever we have a disagreement about a design that we cant immediately reconcile, we normally put it to one side to pick up on a later date or we come up with a third option that we can both agree on.

You came to us all the way from Somerset! Thank you. Why did you choose to work with us?

We met Yeshen through the Crafts Council’s Hothouse program which is a business mentoring programme for creative businesses. Yeshen did a talk about photography, specifically how to use your phone to have beautiful photos for social media. We followed his work on Instagram and have always admired his photography and style.

Have you done a shoot like this before? What were you expecting from the shoot?

We have never done a shoot like this. We expected to come out with beautiful photos that showed the value of our handcrafted furniture and we got so much more than that. Yeshen and Mugdha did such a great job that we have redesigned our website and have lifestyle photographyfor publications. Also we had a wonderful time at the studio.

Round - About Side Table / Marble Top. Styling by Mugdha Sapte.

Round - About Side Table / Marble Top. Styling by Mugdha Sapte.

How did you prepare and plan for the shoot? Do you have any tips for other makers?

One thing that really helped us was Pinterest, we knew the style we wanted to use for the shoot and Pinterest was a great tool to share this with Mugdha and Yeshen.

You guys had some amazing props and accessories! They really made a difference. Where did you source them from?

We have been working with Foster & Gane who are an antique furniture and art dealer and they where happy to share with us some very unusual and beautiful pieces and objects to help made the shots more interesting. We notice how rugs are such an essential part to furniture shots, they really made a difference for this shoot.

How was your experience of working with us? How did you find the whole process?

Yeshen and Mughda where very professional and we felt they understood the style and quality of the photography we needed from the start. They where fun to be with and over all we will love to work with them again.

We love how the images have transformed your website. It looks fantastic. Do you feel you have achieved what you wanted? How and where else will you be using the images?

We have redesigned our website and the new photography has made a huge difference to how we are showcasing our work.  We have already prepared and shared a press release for magazines like Elle Decoration and Home & Gardens. We have use the photos as well for flyers and most of all social media.

Have you had any feedback about the photos? How has it made a difference?

We have had some feedback and it has all been very positive. We where recently at an exhibition and we notice how lifestyle photography helps people visualise our work in their homes.

See more at:

Yeshen on Google+
On location: Lyme Regis

Last month we took the studio on the road once again, this time to the South coast and a very special house. The Crow's Nest has been shortlisted for Small House of the Year and it's easy to see why it caught the judges eye.

There's quite a story too... the owners were planning to update their existing holiday home on the site, but half way through the process the house catastrophically broke in half during a landslip. The new structure, designed by AR Studio includes features to allow the building to shift and be re-levelled following another such event. Landslips happen often in this area, known as the 'Jurassic Coast' due to the amount of fossil finds. The house sits right on the South Coast path and at the edge of a 4 mile stretch of protected coastline - the views are stunning!

Click above images to view full screen. All photos Martin Gardener

So this location was quite different to our previous shoots at The Welsh House and The Forge, the interior was strikingly modern while the outdoor space added to it's appeal. Our regular stylist Mugdha Sapte came along this time and we were both grateful for (working) holiday! The clients who joined us for this shoot were delighted with the results. See the gallery below for some highlights.

All styling by Mugdha Sapte.

Clients in this gallery L-R: Claire Gaudion, Zest&Zing, Stitch by Stich, Kindred and Wilde, Sue Pryke, Vintage Industrial Homewares, Penny Burns, Jennie Jackson, Angie Parker and Floor Story.

Our next location shoot will take place in Somerset, late September 2017. This is another special one, more info will be available in early August following Yeshen's site visit.

Yeshen on Google+
From Britain with Love

Earlier this year, the founder of From Britain with Love, Laura Dunkley, joined us on location in Hampshire. She created a lovely post about my work with stylist Hilary Lowe.

Read the posts:

Feature on our location shoots with Hilary Lowe:

My 5 tips for product photography:

Yeshen on Google+
Baskets in the studio

A few highlights from our recent shoot with La Basketry.

We used some fun lighting techniques here to create the shadows. These baskets are hand woven in Segegal.

Styling by Mugdha Sapte

Yeshen on Google+
New Designers Start Up Day, 29 June

I'll be speaking here for the third year running alongside some lovely people from the craft and design industries. This is a great opportunity to pick up tips on selling online, getting press, licensing, legal and copyright not to mention product photography! The event happens at the Business Design Centre on Upper St, Islington. Angel tube is 5 mins walk.

Use code NDDESIGNTRUST to get 25% off day tickets in advance for £10.50 instead of £16 on the door.

Book online now here. If you have a shoot with us before, I have some free tickets for you - let me know!


10.30am: Patricia van den Akker, Director of The Design Trust:
Why creative businesses fail.

Patricia van den Akker is the Director of The Design Trust, the online business school for designers and makers, and the organiser and host of this free one-day event. Patricia will start with a big welcome, and will kickstart the day with her inspiring (!) talk on: ‘6 most common reasons why creative businesses fail, and how
you can avoid this.’

11am: Rachael Taylor: How to become a professional surface pattern designer
Rachael Taylor, well-known surface pattern designer & Founder of the online business school for surface pattern designers Make It In Design, will talk about what it REALLY takes to make it in the surface pattern design industry, and she will share her top tips, practical advice and story of how she has made it.

11.45am: Interview Sarah Hamilton: Life as a designer & how to work with trade
Sarah Hamilton is an illustrator and visual artist who has worked for over 20 years as a surface pattern designer and consultant. In 2015 she launched the Just A Card campaign to support indie retailers and creatives, and encourages them to work together. In this interview with Patricia she will talk about her journey
as a designer, and how to work with others, especially clients and trade.

12.15pm: Yeshen Venema: Without a quality photo your product is only 50% made.
Yeshen Venema, ‘the designer maker’s favourite photographer’ according to COADG, will show you why professional photography is so crucial for your success. Using lots of visuals and a few case studies he’ll share countless tips from 5 years’ experience running his own studio.

12.45pm: Interview Sinead Koehler & Angel Monzon: How to sell contemporary craft
Sinead Koehler, the Founder of the popular Crafty Fox Markets in London who focus on new makers selling quirky handmade products, and Angel Monzon, co-Founder of Vessel Gallery in West London, who represent the best in contemporary craft and design by British and international studio artists and brands, will be
interviewed by Patricia about how to sell craft, how to position yourself, how to apply for events or approach galleries and much more.

1.30pm: William Miles Briffa & Co and Anti Copying in Design (ACID) on Intellectual Property
Intellectual property and how to protect yourself from copying can be one of the trickiest parts of your creative business - but also one of the most profitable! In this practical session William will be talking about how to protect your creative ideas and create a positive strategy for your intellectual property.

2pm: How to start selling online with Etsy
A successful London-based Etsy seller will join us to talk about getting started with selling on Etsy with loads of practical tips to start selling your creative and handmade products online very quickly.

2.30pm: Andrew Tanner: My career as a product designer
For the last 20 years Andrew Tanner, who is the Design Manager at Sainsbury’s, will talk about his career as a product designer. From starting his own business and partnership, to design consultant for Poole Pottery and Royal Stafford, and more recently he worked for NEXT, Joules and now Sainsbury’s. Learn from Andrew what
it takes to create your design career, the decisions he had to make, the jobs he had and how to keep going.

3pm: Interview Katrina Burroughs & Sue Herdman on how to get into the press
Katrina Burroughs is a design journalist who writes for The Sunday Times, and the FT How To Spend It. Editor, writer and media consultant Sue Herdman is the former Editor of the National Trust Magazine, and Ceramic Review. Kat and Sue will be interviewed by Patricia about how to get into the press.

4pm: The finale
Patricia van den Akker, Director of The Design Trust, and organiser of this event will bring this exciting, full on day to a close with her final thoughts and tips.

Yeshen on Google+
On Location at The Forge

2016 saw us create two very special location shoots in Wales at The Welsh House Cottages. This year we wanted to find a property a little closer to London and in a different style - enter The Forge in Hampshire.

The Forge Hampshire

This glorious Georgian/Victorian home in Holyborne featured beautiful lime-washed walls, antiques galore and spring blooms overflowing from the cottage garden. Our host Juliet is an old friend of our stylist Hilary Lowe so the vibes were good! Hilary brought her usual car load of lovely props up from Wales and as always was meticulously planned. It was chilly but the sun was not absent - a wonderful break from our London studio.

We were happy to support The Design Trust Business Club and Dream Plan Do buy creating a special offer for the members, this meant we had products from all over the UK - even the Outer Hebrides in the case of Shoreline Stoneware. 

Here's some highlights from the shoot which included Galapagos Designs, Thornback&Peel, Shoreline Stoneware, Mamws Interiors, Damson&Slate. Wilton St Craft, Little Toy Co and many more!

Yeshen on Google+
Shoot Prep - relaunched!

Preparing our clients for their shoot is crucial. It's important to us they get the best value for money and its all about that prep. I often do talks on product photography (most recently at New Designers One Year On) and mention it.

So we have fully updated the 'How to Prepare for your Photoshoot' resource, previously a pdf it is now an interactive part of this website. The resource is password protected so please email me if you want access.

The makers love it!

The shoot prep guide was incredibly helpful, I liked the fact its all there laid out in black and white, what I’ll need to do, consider, costings etc.  Super helpful!
Claire Vine, Textile Designer

I've been emailing blogs and magazines all week, asking for features. Having the bank of photos to draw from is so brilliant. I don't need to think about it - I know they are clear, calm, well composed and attractive. It's been so helpful already.
Trudi Murray, Artist

Studio view - part of the Shoot Prep resource.

Studio view - part of the Shoot Prep resource.

Yeshen on Google+
Tips posts for Mollie Makes, Folksy and COADG

I love sharing product photo tips, the way I see the more my clients know about what I'm doing and why the better the end result.

I've recently written posts for several leading blogs, see links below and please do share!


Mollie Makes, Creative Business series.
10 Tips to improve your Product Photography

Meet the Designer/Maker's Favourite Photographer

Confessions of a Design Geek
How to Photograph your Products

Yeshen on Google+
Shooting the Z List

Back in August (wearing a t-shirt rather than a wooly jumper) stylist Annabel Lam and I worked with the Zetteler team to create the photos for their new online shop The Z List.

The shop is not profit-driven; the proceeds of each sale are split fairly between the shop, the makers and a rolling programme of charities and causes that are important to the Zetteler team = awesome!

We spent the day working with a range of coloured papers from GF Smith, finding complementary colours for each product. We loved the range, it's so cool to see a curated shop that really comes from the heart. Many of the makers are local Hackney folk who produce work in small batches so you can be sure you are getting something both handmade and original.

Here's a sample of the shots, head to to shop now!

Yeshen on Google+