30 Questions with Minna Vauhkonen
Today, we’re interviewing Minna Vauhkonen. She’s a cookbook author, food photographer, recipe developer and food stylist. Today, she talks about her journey as a food photographer and food stylist. Tune in to know how you can harness the magic of your camera to create stunning photos!
1. Hi, Minna! We’re so happy to have you for the interview today. Please tell us a little about yourself.
Hi, I’m Minna, a food photographer based in Helsinki, Finland. I feel lucky to work as a food photographer, being able to combine two things that are very important to me, food and photography.
In my free time, I love to spend time with my family and friends. I enjoy nature and exercising.
2. What/who inspired you to become a food photographer?
My love for food and photography. I have a background in business but wasn’t motivated to get back to work after my maternity leave. I started a food blog with my friend and found my passion in food photography.
3. What’s your favourite cuisine and why?
Italian. It’s simple yet delicious food full of flavour that lets the ingredients shine.
4. Tell us a little about your cookbooks Naperosta Nautiskelijaksi and Perheen Ruokavuosi.
My two cookbooks are family-friendly and full of simple mostly vegetarian recipes.
5. How do you teach photography and how can our readers enrol?
This is something I hope to do more in the future. If anyone is interested, I can be contacted through my website or Instagram,
6. What are your biggest strengths as a food stylist?
I’m a bit of a perfectionist and like that my food looks nice even if I would eat it alone at home without photographing it.
7. As a cookbook author, what difficulties did you face and how did you overcome them?
Writing and photographing a book is a lot of work. We were three people co-writing the books together and sometimes it was a struggle to get the texts combined.
8. How do you develop recipes and what’s your inspiration?
I get inspired by seasonal produce. For example, if I see beautiful vegetables I want to cook something with them. Often I develop recipes based on the client’s wishes.
9. What are some of your favourite foods and how do you think you could incorporate them into your work?
Finding the right clients is important. That way I can use products I really like and make my kind of food. It might be vegetarian dishes or healthy-ish desserts.
10. Tell us about your favourite hacks you use to get the perfect shot of a dish.
A sprinkle of oil or water catches the light and makes everything look fresh.
11. Which camera gear/tools are you currently using?
I’m currently using the Canon 6D camera, 50mm, 100mm macro and 24-70mm lenses, Manfrotto Tripod and lots of natural light!
12. Do you cook all the food that you photograph?
Mostly yes, but sometimes the client has a separate person or team for cooking and then I just concentrate on photographing.
13. Is it possible to capture high-quality photographs through your mobile phone?
I know that it is, but I’m terrible at taking pictures with my phone!
14. Which photo editing software do you use and why?
I use Lightroom. I think it’s easy to use and has almost all the functions that I need. Sometimes I need to do small edits also in Photoshop.
15. As a photographer, which has been your favourite social media platform and why?
Instagram because it’s the most visual platform.
16. What’s the Finnish food and culture like?
The Finnish food culture is built around fresh ingredients that are available in the Nordic climate. We love berries and mushrooms from the forests, fish from the sea and vegetables from the fields.
17. What are the top five dishes everyone must try when they’re in Helsinki?
- All fresh berries if it’s summertime
- Karelian pasties
- Whipped lingonberry porridge
- Traditional Finnish food like salmon and small Summer potatoes
- Vendace (small fried fish)
18. Which country would you travel to for its food and culture?
I would love to travel to Italy because it’s been too many years since my last visit.
19. What inspires you to work every day and how do you work?
Exiting client projects are most inspiring. Of course, there are days when I don’t feel inspired to shoot but usually picking up my camera helps.
20. Which experiences do you think have helped you become the best version of yourself as a photographer and a stylist?
Practising and shooting a lot of different foods.
21. If you could, which is the one thing you would have done differently?
Believed in me since the beginning.
22. A productivity tip that you’d like to share with our readers…
Listen to audiobooks while editing images, a good book makes sure you sit at the computer longer.
23. As a food photographer, tell us 5 budget-friendly props that our readers should invest in.
- Cutlery from thrift stores
- Old plates
- Parchment paper
- Small glasses
- Small linen
24. How does the target audience affect the photography? What tricks do you use to please younger and older audiences?
Probably different styling and use of more modern/vintage props.
25. What makes a super photo or a video?
Any image or video that can tell a story and evokes emotions.
26. Which food photographers do you admire and why?
There are too many to name. Everyone has their own style and manages to take gorgeous images that stop me from scrolling.
27. Your advice for aspiring food photographers in 12 words or less would be…
Practice makes a huge difference.
28. What are you going to do next?
I think I will learn a little more about how to shoot beautiful short videos.
29. What do you think differentiates a good photographer from the rest?
Eye for detail.
30. One recipe you’d like to share with our readers…
Mini Blueberry Galettes
Makes: 6 galettes Time required: Over 60 min
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup spelt flour
1/2 tsp salt
8 Tbsp coconut oil or butter
4-6 Tbsp cold water
1 + 1 Tbsp coconut sugar
3 cups fresh or frozen blueberries (add 1 Tbsp cornstarch to frozen blueberries)
2 Tbsp milk or any non-dairy milk
For Serving (optional):
honey or maple syrup
vanilla ice cream
In a large mixing bowl, mix the flour, salt and 1 tbsp of coconut sugar. Add the oil or butter and stir. Add chilled water 1 Tbsp at a time and stir until the dough has a nice consistency. Form the dough into a ball and let it set in the fridge for 15-30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface, then divide it into six segments. Use a rolling pin to roll each piece of dough out into a circle, then transfer to a baking sheet that is covered with parchment paper.
Divide the blueberries evenly among the galettes and place them in the center of the dough circles. If you use frozen blueberries, mix 1 Tbsp of cornstarch with the berries. Then fold the crust edges up, pressing and overlapping. Brush the galettes with a touch of milk and sprinkle a little coconut sugar on top. Bake for 25 minutes until the crust is golden brown. Serve warm with a drizzle of honey or maple syrup and a scoop of ice cream.
Mini Blueberry Galettes
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 cup spelt flour
- ½ tsp salt
- 8 tbsp coconut oil or butter
- 4-6 tbsp cold water
- 1+1 tbsp coconut sugar
- 3 cups fresh or frozen blueberries (add 1 Tbsp cornstarch to frozen blueberries)
- 2 tbsp milk or any non-dairy milk
- honey or maple syrup
- vanilla ice cream
- In a large mixing bowl, mix the flour, salt and 1 tbsp of coconut sugar. Add the oil or butter and stir.
- Add chilled water 1 Tbsp at a time and stir until the dough has a nice consistency. Form the dough into a ball and let it set in the fridge for 15-30 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
- Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface, then divide it into six segments.
- Use a rolling pin to roll each piece of dough out into a circle, then transfer to a baking sheet that is covered with parchment paper.
- Divide the blueberries evenly among the galettes and place them in the center of the dough circles. If you use frozen blueberries, mix 1 Tbsp of cornstarch with the berries.
- Then fold the crust edges up, pressing and overlapping. Brush the galettes with a touch of milk and sprinkle a little coconut sugar on top.
- Bake for 25 minutes until the crust is golden brown. Serve warm with a drizzle of honey or maple syrup and a scoop of ice cream.
For more information, follow Minna Vauhkonen on Instagram.
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Shristi is an avid reader, recipe developer and wellness enthusiast. She’s probably making a mess in her kitchen right now.