Beautiful, minimal still life images featuring only the freshest ingredients – if you’ve seen Marieke Verdenius’ Instagram feed with its carefully-styled pictures, you know exactly what we’re talking about. She used to work as a food and lifestyle editor for Jamie Oliver’s magazine and now puts all her energy into her own website. If you’re not one of the 85,500 people already following her, you will be after our interview! She shares with us how she became a professional food stylist and constantly develops new recipes for her fans and followers.
Can you introduce yourself and tell us a little bit about you and where you come from?
My name is Marieke Verdenius and I live and work as a freelance food stylist and photographer in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. I grew up in a town near Rotterdam with my parents and siblings. For my studies, I moved to Amsterdam, that was back in 1997.
Tell us more about where you live and what a typical day looks like.
Every day is a completely different story! A couple of months ago, I quit my fulltime job as a food editor at Jamie Oliver’s magazine. Since then, I started working as a freelancer and the work rhythm completely changed. Last Monday, I did prop styling and food styling for a photoshoot. Tuesday, I spent at my atelier working on other assignments and today I am writing down this interview and making a plan to organize workshops in food styling. I like it that every day is a bit different.
When was the first time you thought about starting your blog and why?
I started blogging back in 2009, and the main purpose was that I needed a space where I could collect all things that inspired me. I wrote about what I liked and did basically. Slowly, I discovered Instagram and this app suited me even better; I could develop my skills in photography and food styling. It gave me the creative freedom I needed. For Jamie Oliver’s magazine, I also blogged about food, so while I quit my first blog, I continued writing for online at work. A couple of months ago, I launched my personal website and it also includes a blog where I share some recipes and short stories.
“Lemon is one of my favorites: it’s the best secret ingredient to give your dish a kick.” – Marieke Verdenius
How long did it take to become a professional food stylist? What was your ambition?
It took me a while before I knew what I wanted to do with my career. It all started with choosing what to study: something with food or fashion? I chose the last one, but always worked with food during my studies. Eventually, I started working at the studio of a culinary photographer and there I learned more about editorial and commercial productions. My career changed from traffic manager into food editor and the last couple of years I was able to develop my skills in food styling at Jamie Oliver’s magazine. When I look back, it was a natural flow, but back then it felt like a big struggle not knowing what I exactly wanted to do. When I started at Jamie Oliver’s magazine, my ambition was to learn how food magazines are made. I learned to write, take interviews, make travel guides, and eventually create food productions. It wasn’t a plan, I think I slowly grew into it.
How would you describe your content and philosophy of your blog?
I am drawn to minimalism, so I tend to create content that suits that aesthetic, pure feeling. I think every image I create, needs to breathe. I believe the use of light tones in my work reflects that feeling. It makes me feel at ease.
What impact do you think Social Media has on your career?
Oh, a lot! If there was no Instagram, I think I still would be running the blog I started 8 years ago. But besides from creating images and using it as a portfolio, the main advantage in using a tool like Instagram is that I have met so many new friends! I think it is easier to get in touch with like-minded creatives, because you already see a glimpse of their life and/or work through this app. I never get disappointed when I meet someone I know from Instagram, I think it’s a marvelous tool to really get connected and meet up with new inspiring people around the world. And sometimes it even creates new collaborations.
What is your favorite food and do you have some favorite ingredients or recipes?
I have a crush on artisan bread. I wish I could bake it myself! I like simple food, with only a few ingredients. Lemon is one of my favorites too: it’s the best secret ingredient to give your vegetables or pasta dish a kick. From fish to salads and from cake to cordial, lemon is the ingredient that can uplift nearly everything.
Where do you get your inspiration and ideas for your recipes?
Oh, many things. Traveling to other countries, visiting the local organic market or reading a menu at the restaurant. Inspiration can be found everywhere. I think sometimes it’s just in the air!
How long does it take to create a new recipe and to publish it on your blog?
I think at least one day. If I just post it on my Instagram, it takes a couple of hours to create the setting, cook, and shoot. But when I want to publish it on my website as a blog, it takes more time.
What are your working essentials, things you can’t live without?
My stone ware and other props. And of course the best ingredients from the season! They are the heroes in every picture.
Do you have a method when it comes to editing your photos, are there any apps you always use?
I use Lightroom and sometimes VSCO to edit my photos. I am always developing my skills by just testing or asking other creatives how they do it. But I think you need to keep on practicing. The most important thing for me is that it needs to look natural and that it always suits your style. Being consistent is key!
*numbers current at the time of writing
Copyright: The header image is copyright protected and is property of Marieke Verdenius.