Hein van Tonder – Food Photographer Dubai and Abu Dhabi
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, 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 food photographer in Dubai and Abu Dhabi.
I adore Middle Eastern and vegetarian cooking but baking is also a great love. 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, Montreal, Bangkok, Rome, Naples, Phnom Penh, New Delhi, London, Padstow, Sarajevo, Bologna, Copenhagen and Venice.
In 2020 during lockdown I created a custom range of photography background boards that is now used by South Africa’s top stylists and photographers and seen in campaigns and images not just locally and internationally.
Full Media Kit available on request.
Don’t hesitate to talk to me about any food photography; styling, recipe development, brand and social media content or other requirements you may have.
CONTACT DETAILS :
+27 (0) 836622101 (South Africa) or
+71 (0) 585904708 (United Arab Emirates)
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