From Culinary, Beverages and Talent Photography-Riehan Bakkes


What have you been up to since we last featured you?

We’ve been having a lot of fun at the studio since then. My team and I have engaged in many interesting projects from culinary, beverages and talent portraiture. The projects that stand out most are the Eat Out Top 20 Chef Portraits, a series of images commissioned by the Stellenbosch Wine Route; music talent and celebrity portraits; and advertisements for our wine clients. We are investing a lot of time in lighting and post editing techniques and finding many different and more effective ways of transforming our images and style applicable to the various genres. Our sponsor Visico Lighting & Studio Equipment ( is looking after us very well and provides all the tools we require to expand our approach and techniques. Personally I am still gravitating and enjoying surrealism and continue to apply it to a lot of my work but in good balance the commercial adverting requires less of that approach and lets me slow down on processing and refocus again on plain beautiful digital photography.

3. Richard Carstens_Tokara

Tell us about your new projects?

The Eat Out Magazine Chef portraits is a project that was a lot of fun. 9 out of 20 finalists were chefs from Stellenbosch and the brief was to create portraits of each finalist to promote the town as a culinary capital of South Africa. A lot of latitude in creativity was given to us but the only requirements were that an element of food had to be visible in each shot and that Stellenbosch must be evident in the final images. The client was inspired by the previous surreal work as showcased in our last interview so I followed the same path with these portraits. Musicians are becomming regular here at Bakkes Images and for the rest, as a specialist wine phtoography studio, we are kept very busy in the food & beverage industries.

1. Christiaan Cambell_Delaire

What was the inspiration behind your new work?

Good portraits always inspire me. Portrait photography is not an easy task. For me, to create a good portrait I must connect with the subject in a way that brings out the most awesome inner side of them through their exterior so that the viewer can understand and gain insight into the subject even though they might not have met them before. In other words, to create a good portrait the subject has to give something to the photographer and and the other way around. There is a connection that must be established for it to be effective. Now, on most shoot you might not have enough time to sit down and have a long coffee with the subjects to get to know them well enough to get that kind of insight, so within a mere five to ten minutes (chefs are really busy people and don’t always like photo shoots) I had to quickly connect to know what to do for not only their portrait but also the surreal scene I have to create for them in post. We drew up sketches in pre-production but most of it all falls out the window once they arrive, like Christiaan’s Vespa (called Margarine) simply had to feature once I saw it outside the studio. This type of work for me is totally unpredictable but always end up looking fantastic.

A lot of talent from the music industries also came around to the studio. A great honour was to shoot the marketing work for The Blues Broers who just released their new album Into The Red. The members had to be shot individually in order to fit them into the studio and, nevertheless, the individual portraits and group composites went well according to plan. Arno Carstens came in as well as New York oboist James Austin Smith. Cool job. We get to meet amazing people.

Finally, we did an interesting shoot for Graham Beck Wines for their ATL advertising through the agency Root 360. Linked to the design capital campaign we had to place a product shot on a muselet table. These tables are rather popular at the moment and looks just like the cage of a champagne bottle. Unfortunately none of these tables were available so we had to shoot actual muselets on macro and digitally create he artwork for the ad. This was challenging and successful and is now running nationwide in editorials like Taste and Visi Magazines.


Whats are your creative plans for 2014?

The plans for the rest of 2014 is to do a lot more portrait of celebrities. At the studio the team and I will continue to push the boundaries in lighting and editing, try new gear and techniques and keep on growing. I am in great need to take the surreal shoots outdoors altogether with bigger sets and try adapt the current knowledge to the outdoor environment with all its challenges. Bakkes Images will be running courses by the end of winter for beginners to pros, a fine print exhibition is on the cards, and an exclusive Riehan Bakkes Collection platform will be launched soon that will specifically target interior decorators and photography buyers.

Where can our readers follow your work?

Readers are welcome to visit us and our affiliates on:



Twitter: @bakkesimages

Facebook: Bakkes Images

and please check out the lighting gear on

5. Blues Broers


6. Albert Frost


7. Rob Nagel_02


8. Arno Carstens


9. James Austin Smith_35

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