Painting with light: celebrating the Dutch Masters through food photography

The Dutch are proud of their past, notable their Golden Age. Every Dutch kid learns about the famous Dutch Masters whose 17th century art remains world famous until this very day. We grow up with Vermeer’s Milkmaid and Rembrandt’s Night Watch and every person I know has seen these masterpieces in real life at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. It’s almost part of our DNA.

That’s not just true for the Dutch however. Last year I traveled to Venice, where I met a very talented photographer, a daughter of two painters. She told me her work has been hugely influenced by the well-known masters of chiaroscuro from Holland. Her name is Zaïra and we became friends from the very first moment we saw each other.

Growing up, hearing all about the Dutch masters, it’s no surprise that Zaïra’s photos resemble that exact look and feel from the Golden Age. Almost nothing in her pictures gives away that she actually lives in the 21st century. Through her fascination with Rembrandt and Vermeer, I rediscovered my own interest in the rich history of Dutch art. Together we visited the Vermeer center in Delft and we shot a recipe, chiaroscuro style when I stayed with Zaïra in Venice. We decided that one-day, we wanted to combine my cultural heritage and her family’s history and host a food photography workshop, celebrating the Dutch Masters. I am happy to announce that that time has finally come!

This June, we welcome you at villa Oosterhouw, a 19th century Italian mansion in the utmost northern part of The Netherlands. This beautiful ocher-white villa that comes with a characteristic carriage house, was built by the son of a poet and has been lived in by many artists ever since. Its interior is very fitting for the style of photography we’re after during this retreat. A farmhouse kitchen, a library that comes with an old wooden ladder and a countless number of books, a cozy living room with ruby red armchairs and a working fireplace, and a large English (yes, the place is kind of eclectic) garden with fruit trees scattered here and there. This place lives and breathes art.

Oosterhouw nowadays is home to Wilbert, a young creative and foodie. He moved from the bustling capital to a quiet province town and opened his home for everyone to see. At Oosterhouw, it’s possible to just drop by for a short visit or stay for dinner. If you like to spend the night, that’s fine too. There’s plenty of room in the villa. Wilbert even invited the whole town over for coffee one day. We think his home is the perfect place for a food photography workshop that celebrates the work of famous Dutch Masters such as Johannes Vermeer and Rembrandt van Rijn.


Day 1.

17.00 Arrival of the guests + welcome drink
19.00 Welcome dinner
The rest of the evening will be spend socializing and getting to know each other.


Day 2.

9.30 am          Breakfast
11 am              Photography + Lightroom class (Ingrid + Zaira)
1 pm               Lunch
2 pm              Knitting class (Sini)
4 pm              Afternoon snack in the garden
5 pm               Walk through town
7 pm              Dinner
9 pm              Social media round table (Ingrid + Zaira)


Day 3.

9.30 am          Breakfast
10.30 am        Visiting the farmers market
1 pm               Picnic
2 pm               Hands-on chiaroscuro food styling (Zaira + Amanda)
7 pm               Dinner
8.30 pm          Creative writing round table (Zaira + Ingrid)


Day 4.

09.30 am        Breakfast
10.30 am        Wreath making class
1.30 pm          Goodbye lunch


What we will teach you in this workshop is the art of chiaroscuro photography, food styling and the use of props, how to use negative spacing to your benefit and incorporate human elements into your photos. We will talk about the basics of photography, make sure you will be best friends with your camera when you leave, discuss editing in Lightroom, help you create an identity on social media, notably Instagram, and practice creative writing.

But that’s not all there is. This workshop is not all about “work”. It’s mostly about having fun, being with passionate, and creative people. We will also spend afternoon knitting, be making wreaths, visit a farmers market and explore the area. Zaïra and I will make sure this will be an unforgettable experience.



-       Accommodation (a 2-person shared bedroom)
-       All meals
-       Snacks
-       Drinks
-       Goodie bag
-       Classes



-       Transport to and from villa
-       Purchases at local farmers market


The easiest way to get to the villa is flying into either Schiphol or Eelde Airport, and drive by car to villa Oosterhouw in Leens, or to take the train to Groningen, transfer to Winsum and take bus 65 to Zoutkamp. Make sure to get out at the stop: Leens, the Nije Nering. From there it’s about a 5-minute walk. Of course it’s also possible to take a cab from Groningen.


A ticket for this 4-day workshop costs 1500 euros.