What I love the most about photography is that it inspires me and allows me to discover places I never would have known about otherwise. Before I go travelling, I always look through photos of the area to find some hidden gems, some that might not even be highlighted on a map. I’ve discovered some amazing places this way! I also regularly go through old photos just to bring back memories of some fantastic holidays and people I met. I’m so grateful for these photos as they allow me to take a trip down memory lane. I’m quite the nostalgic person in general, and I find that photography is just a great way to keep old memories alive.

My name is Tine Van den Heuvel and I’m a software localisation QA engineer, translator, and web designer. A career in tech was a big change for me as I mainly worked in communication & PR before joining the tech community. There is something very fulfilling about working on products you use yourself in daily life, and seeing your work appreciated and used by others as well. Working in the tech community and in localisation in particular usually also means you’ll be part of a team of people from all over the world, which is very enriching. I love learning about people’s home countries, backgrounds, stories, and (of course) their local cuisine.

I’m originally from Belgium (Antwerp) and moved to Ireland in 2015 as I fell in love with the people, culture, and nature. I initially learned more about Ireland through a presentation I had to do in secondary school, and later through photos and videos I saw online or in movies – I just thought it looked like a beautiful place. When I finally got to visit the country with my family, I ended up going back every year until I decided to move here. I also lived in Australia last year – I left about a month before we first started hearing about the Coronavirus, but ultimately, I had to come home because of the pandemic, so now I’m back in Ireland. It was the trip of a lifetime though and I’m still so glad I got to see parts of Australia!

I’ve lived in a few different places in Ireland as well, from Blarney to Tipperary, where I live now in the glorious Galtee Mountains.

Outside of my job, I love Photography and I do food blogging on my website Fern & Follie. I first became interested in photography when I was a kid, mainly through my dad, who is a great photographer (hobby-wise; it’s not his job) himself and always carries a camera with him on holidays and day trips. But it wasn’t until I started my Bachelor’s in Interactive Multimedia Design that I learned more about it, as I would just always use the ‘auto’ mode on my basic cameras before it. I then studied a Master’s in Film Studies & Visual Culture in Antwerp, where I learned more about photography & movie-making in general and appreciated this creative art even more (Antwerp is a great place to develop your love for photography as well – not only does it have a fantastic photo museum, but the buildings are just phenomenal to look at).

I have a few favourite Belgian photographers:

  • David Loftus, a food photographer who has worked with Jamie Oliver
  • Rachel Khoo
  • Yves Schepers, who is a brilliant wedding photographer
  • Noortje Palmers, whose colourful photography is very refreshing
  • Regula Ysewijn whose food photography is just phenomenal.
  • During my travels in Australia, I also discovered some fantastic nature and drone photographers whose photos continue to amaze me – my favourite one has to be Ben Savage.

Personally, I mainly focus on food & nature photography, but I draw most of my inspiration from nature photography. A great shot of some beautiful scenery can instantly take me on a visual journey in my mind.

I recently upgraded my camera and now have a Canon EOS 6D Mark II. For my own food photography, I mainly use natural light, some of my favourite vinyl backdrops that I bring with me wherever I go, and a tripod. I would love to expand my equipment more, but it just makes it harder to travel, so I try to keep it as simple as possible. I’ve always been lucky enough to live in places with plenty of natural light, so I’ve never had to invest in light equipment either.

I have a few favourite photos, mainly for sentimental reasons. For example, this photo I took on New Year’s Eve going from 2019 to 2020. You can see the crowds packed together, looking at the Melbourne fireworks and not knowing that their lives would drastically change shortly after. But in terms of my food photography, there is one photo I took when I was living in Australia that I really liked, and it’s of a recipe with artichoke. Artichoke in itself is a great subject to photograph and to cook with, but regardless of that, I’m quite happy with how the photo turned out – given that I only brought the bare minimum with me to Australia and didn’t have much to work with, which was quite challenging.

In the future, I’m hoping to be able to work with some local Irish brands a bit more as well – I’ve been lucky enough to have worked with a few brands in the past with my photography, and I always love discovering local products.

Looking at my other activity, I also love Blogging. I first became interested in blogging over a decade ago – it was after seeing Julie & Julia that I said to myself: I’d love to do that too! One of my biggest inspirations that I religiously follow is Steph My Life, a Cork blogger who travelled the world and recently moved to Italy. She is such an uplifting person; very inspirational, very motivational, and also a very kind person.

My first blog was about so many different things: food, movies, DIY, music, etc. Although I was always interested in all of these topics, food really is what I love to work with and talk about the most. It will always be the main focus of my blog, even though I talk about other things as well. My current blog that I’ve recently launched is called Fern & Follie.

Food blogging for me was just the most natural thing to do, as I have always been into writing – even back in primary school, a few kids in my year and I were making these magazines and newspapers. I also worked as a freelance journalist for a while studying, covering festivals & concerts, movie premieres and theatre shows, so writing was just something that always came to me quite naturally. Similarly, I was always really interested in cooking food and discovering new flavours and cuisines, so the combination of the two made it quite easy for me to step into food blogging.

Fern & Follie Homepage

What I love the most about blogging is being able to share what I’m passionate about, which is cooking and the blogging community – the food blogging community in Ireland in particular. I can get really excited when someone says they’ve tried my recipe and loved it, especially if it means they’ve tried something new (for example, my Belgian beer & beef stew, which is one of my favourite meals to cook). Being able to share some flavour combinations, ingredients, or recipes that people didn’t know before is what I enjoy quite a lot because it’s what I love most about cooking as well: discovering new things.

The Irish blogging community is just a great community to be a part of. They are very supportive and not competitive. You can always go up to someone and ask them where they found their backdrops or props, and they very often share each other’s giveaways or recipes in their stories. I’ve also met some fantastic people through blogging, ranging from publishers to fellow bloggers, but also some local producers. There are a few people here in Ireland who’ve set up some fantastic initiatives to bring bloggers together, both online and in person. Hopefully, once the restrictions are all lifted, I can go to a bloggers’ brunch to meet some fellow bloggers again.

In the future, I’d love to someday have my own book or sell my own food in shops. I constantly have these ideas of setting up a café or shop, but for now, they are just that: ideas.

My advice to anyone interested in food blogging is to look through cookbooks and other food blogs (for food photography in particular), find what inspires you the most, and develop your own style from there. Props can be a really great help here as well; even just picking a few backdrops that suit your style best will help a lot. I also really recommend investing in some props like napkins, bowls, cutlery & utensils that match your style. I used to only have the finished meal in my photo, but when I started using props and backgrounds, it really lifted my photos up to another level. One great tip is to showcase some of the ingredients you used as well; herbs are a great prop to use around your finished plate!

If you have a passion or a story to tell: do it! There will always be people out there who are interested in hearing what you have to say – if you can pass on just a little bit of the fire that’s burning inside you then, that’s a win in my books! It can be challenging to start with, but you’ll be a part of a great community that will support you if you’re struggling with anything.

There is always more than tech. It might be an old cliché, but people sometimes think that technologists don’t do much else apart from sitting behind their computers, but it really is a very creative community with a variety of hobbies and passions. People are also more than their career – I believe that a person’s passions, interests, and hobbies define them more than what job they do. Creativity can help a person grow, and reading stories of other people’s passions can also be an inspiration to others to perhaps try a new hobby they hadn’t tried before, or just as a source of inspiration for their own interests.

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