About Hein

Hein van Tonder  – Food Photographer Abu Dhabi

Hein van Tonder

An aptitude for detail and the inability to completely smother my passions have shaped my life. At 44 I was ticking along nicely with my own bookkeeping business but yearned for a creative outlet. I tried many different things. I got given a camera before a trip to New York, and photography emerged as the perfect partner to my life-long affair with food. I did an entry level photography course at the Cape Town School of Photography and started taking pictures for my blog. They were terrible. I invested in an expensive weekend-long food styling and photography workshop with Russel Wasserfall. Afterwards, I was determined to make every cent count and committed to blogging once a week. Russel also said something very important to us that weekend, that I carry with me every day.

“To start the journey, you have to get on the bus.”

So I got on the bus and today work as a full-time photographer & videographer, stylist, content creator and creative director for leading brands, global publications and some of South Africa’s most celebrated establishments. In 2022 I made the next jump and obtained by freelancer license in the UAE, working as photographer and videographer in Abu Dhabi and Dubai.

I love Middle Eastern and vegetarian cooking and baking is an enjoyable hobby. Besides a massive need for sweet, I feel at my most creative when baking. The meticulous measuring soothes my accountant’s brain and although I don’t understand the science of it, I’m fascinated by what happens when a mixture heats up. I also feel very clever when using a sugar thermometer.

Way back, I ditched my studies in Hotel Management to follow a lover to Pretoria – no regrets there – and ended up as a Credit Controller at the Burgerspark Sun in Pretoria. I attempted a year of Bcomm accounting but was bored out of my skull. Bookkeeping comes naturally to me – I love numbers. So I evolved into a bookkeeper and kept going until my inner baker caught up with me. From cooking to bookkeeping, to baking and image-making. I suppose you could say I’ve come full circle. But that just makes me think of cake.

My favourite pastime is travelling to eat. Recent destinations include Beirut, Lisbon, Santorini, Mumbai, Colombo, Montreal, Bangkok, Rome, Naples, Phnom Penh, New Delhi, London, Padstow, Sarajevo, Bologna, Copenhagen and Venice.

Realising there is a need for photographers to refine their editing skills, I created online Lightroom training sessions helping photographers of all levels of experience to learn and refresh their photo editing skills.

View my portfolio of work

Published Books

Don’t hesitate to talk to me about any food photography; reels; styling, recipe development, brand and social media content or other requirements you may have.

CONTACT DETAILS : +971 (0) 585904708 (United Arab Emirates)
EMAIL hein@heinstirred.com
INSTAGRAM @heinstirred

Represented by MMG Artists
Image Licensing managed by Image Professionals

Follow me on Instagram for new recipes, tastes and places.

Please don’t use any of the content on the blog without my permission as all copyright belongs to Hein van Tonder



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