Please tell us something about yourself...My name is Elise Rijnberg, I am 27 years old and live and work in Rotterdam where I was born. I combine product design with photography. My passion for photography and images started at an early age. I could spent hours and hours looking at photos and with a pair of scissors destroyed many of my parents’ magazines to create collages.
Later I chose not to study photography, but decided to attend the Design Academy at Eindhoven (Industrial Design) instead. I guess I preferred to have a more broad-based-schooling rather than limiting myself to one speciality. However, shortly before graduation I started to do a bit of photography work again and eventually my final exam consisted of a photo album; which was rather unusual in Industrial Design.
In the field of photography I feel I am a true autodidact. I used to say: taking pictures is a sensational touch.
What is it that appeals to you in photography?
I am sure you have heard this before but there is well-known expression: “Pictures are worth a thousand words”. I have always felt that pictures can address emotions more deeply and faster. They can create an emotion that may vary from person to person.That is why I also like pictures that provoke questions requiring the viewer to use his or her own imagination.
I think my photography is characterized by the feeling or suggestion that it brings about and not so much by making a technically perfect image. I love the poetry, the imperfection and purity.
How important are images to you?
I can look at images for hours and never get bored, looking at images is very relaxing fro me. I strongly believe that photography has developed to foster memories, emotions or desires that originate from a silent personal world.
For me personally, it is easier to express my feelings in an image than in other designs.
What is it that you want us to show, what is the purpose of the photo?
I think most important in culinary photography is of course to show the beauty and individual character of the product or dish. Everything in the image should give you an appetite. I would only do pure products or dishes.
I think I would not be interested in photographing ready-made-meals. It is just not something I believe in where it concerns food, it sometimes even makes me sad that these meals replace other beautiful foods.
My other photos are meant to make people wonder. Just a moment of losing yourself when looking at the image or let your thoughts drift away, something different from the routine of daily life. I often hear people especially like my almost still life photography style. Dreamy, but confronting all the same. In the end you just want to reach out to people with your work. One way or the other.
Would you like to specialize on food-photography?
My interest and passion for photographing food started when my mom opened a food store selling delicacies. I was in my late teens at the time. Love for delicious food and high quality products is something that my mother taught me. I soon found that I liked “to make food come to life” in a natural manner. The products already have a beauty and a character of their own. They only needed a little glamour or styling. Otherwise it would only detract the attention from the product itself.
I’m not yet certain if I would specialize in food-photography entirely. But I like everything that has to do with eating, probably because for me it reminds me of cosiness and a homely atmosphere.
Which chef would you prefer to write a cookbook with?
Frankly, I must admit that I have no favourite one chef… so a difficult question I guess. What I would like to do is write a cookbook with all of my mom’s best recipes. But I would have to think really hard about creating a beautiful concept for this, there are just so many cookbooks, and the one dedicated to my mom must of course be a gem….as a tribute to her hard work, constant love and devotion in preparing food.
Which countries are on your shortlist for your travel photography?
Eastern Europe, like Ukraine, Bulgaria, Hungary, Russia, Poland… countries that are still very much in the early stages of their development and full of contrast, without Western prosperity. I have always been interested in a bit more rough travel destinations.
Furthermore countries like Lapland, Antarctic and Canada for their overwhelming natural scenery and
tranquility. The truth is there are so many places I would like to visit some time!
What are you looking for when you walk streets of a foreign city or are traveling in a foreign country, when do you know if and what you want to photograph?
Just by watching intensely. With a camera in your hand you look quite differently at things than you would normally do walking the streets. You want to keep focus and don’t want to be distracted by anything or anyone. Therefore it is best that I travel on my own and can submerge in my new surroundings. I feel that the urge to make photos is a sensation aroused by colour, light and new impressions.
Can we in the future expect nice products from you, such as the tablecloth and cutlery? Are these designs for sale?
Yes, I should think so. My designs attract quite a lot of attention nowadays and I feel have a firm presence in the design world. This inspires me to work on new designs.It is difficult to divide my time between design and photography. But I don’t want to make a choice now; that is something for later.
But if as a photographer I could travel the world working for magazines, travel guides and private clients then…..that would be my choice. Freedom and adventure.
The tablecloth will be for sale shortly, I’m working hard on it. For the cutlery I’m in negotiation with a major cutlery producer, but it is a long process and it might be a while before these designs are actually available in the shops. But you can keep track of everything I do on my website: www.eliserijnberg.nl
N.B. Would you be interested in buying any of the photographs from Elise Rijnberg you can send her an email and she will be very happy to give you all the information. All the photographs have different dimensions and various numbers of copies, consequently prices differ.
I would like to thank Elise Rijnberg very much for taking the time to answer all these questions. It was a pleasure meeting you and I truly enjoy all your beautiful images and I can't wait to buy the amazing tablecloth! I wish you a wonderful design future, irene!