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

Independent Shoots: Part One.

One of the many perks of my job (no.1 being I earn a living doing what I love) is meeting such talented designers, makers and business owners.

In the last month I've been fortunate to shoot products including papercuts, linens, prints, cards and textiles with plenty of beautiful ceramics in-between. So here's a digest, a best of, with a few notes on what I learnt along the way. Part Two will follow next week.

It all started at the HOME show, specifically the Homegrown section where The Confessions of a Design Geek Bursary (coadg) stand was located. The winning designer (Jess Hogarth) was offered a stand at the show, mentoring from Mini Moderns, Seen PR and HAM + coverage via the confessions of a design geek and Home London websites and social media channels. The other shortlisted designers ThorodyPsalt DesignStolen Form and Joss Barton also had a presence with a shared stand.

I was there to cover the coadg picks of the show (after doing the rounds with Katie before the opening). It was lovely walking around with my camera and finding the designers happy to chat as I took photos. Lighting is never good at trade shows, in fact it's terrible. So I used a tripod and removed a good deal of the yellow tones in post. A general note, if you're walking round trade shows (or any public space) ask before taking photos, it only takes a second.

A selection of my photos from HOME London 2013. More can be seen here: http://bit.ly/YbwUvo

I wanted to support the bursary, so I offered a free photoshoot to the winner. The public vote went with illustrator and surface pattern designer Jess Hogarth. A couple of weeks later Jess took the train back to London and we met at my home studio, here are some of the results.

Some of my photos from the Jess Hogarth shoot. More can be viewed here: http://bit.ly/12FawLJ

Jess needed a mix of on-white 'cutouts' (for press) and lifestyle photos for her website and Not on The High Street storefront. Every client I shoot for these days wants cutouts, as magazines will generally not accept lifestyle images. Doing cutouts yourself can be tricky, so I would always advise to use a professional or learn the basics with some online tutorials.

It was a fun shoot, we kept it simple with the styling and found a few suitable props like colourful stationary and neutral-toned wood for the backgrounds. Jess headed back to Yorkshire very happy and we hope to do a follow-up shoot soon. It was refreshing to work with a young designer so full of life and ideas - big things ahead for you Jess!

Stolen Form made the shortlist, and although they missed out on the top prize, they still enjoyed the show, meeting peers, press and fielding enquires from potential stockists for their unique designs. Shortly after, they booked a shoot, so I hopped on a train to Bow in East London where we had the use of a lovely ground floor flat. In the back was a conservatory, filled with beautiful diffused sunlight (we were lucky with the weather - oh to have a studio in LA or Australia). As we were also shooting on cutouts on white, I brought a soft box along to brighten things up.

A few images from the Stolen Form shoot, more can be viewed here: http://bit.ly/YtO8Cq

Due to the reflective ceramic of their 'Brick Vase', I used a piece of black foam board to take out the extreme highlights. The guys were very pleased with the results and it was a pleasure to work with them. We'll be doing a follow-up shoot with a focus on creating some 'in-use' lifestyle images. I wish I had a rustic pine table like this at home, and that light! It's the reason I first picked up a camera, I gazed at sunlight cascading through a patch of woodland and thought, 'I want to capture that'.

Next week I'll share part two of this post with a behind the scenes look at recent shoots with Clemmente, Cole of London and Papercut Writer.

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