About us

My name is Niveditha Ravichandran but you can call me Nia. I am merely a scientist who picked up the camera and fell in love with photography. I am originally from India, but moved to the Netherlands in 2016, initially to go to university, but one thing led to another… and I started But First Salt.

Together with my boyfriend Kyle van Bavel, I work as a food photographer, recipe developer and stylist for the food and beverage industry. As inherently creative people, we love to experiment with different ways to best bring out the vibrant colours and intricate textures of food while telling a story.

My love of photography started when I was young. I watched my father fiddle with the film camera and fell in love with the world a lens sees. I loved watching the camera freeze frames and couldn’t wait to get the rolls printed. For me, it was like magic… and I just wanted to incorporate a little of that magic into my pictures.

When we photograph food, we let our imagination run wild and pride ourselves on thinking outside the plate. We love to add a little magic to all kinds of foods and beverages – whether it’s a delicately perched glass of wine with elegance and grace or a spicy warm soup on a cold winter day. 

We love to capture the visual stories behind everything I photograph while ensuring that it stays in the limelight. We also love letting people in our of magical secrets and take you behind the scenes to show the effort that went into them.

MAGIC IS
OUR SECRET
WEAPON

When you first contact us, we’ll discuss what type of shoot you are looking for.  How many products will we shoot, what staging will be needed, what your overall vision for the final result will be.  This helps us understand your vision and goals and know exactly what I’ll need to do to prepare for and complete the shoot.Once everything is nailed down, we start with the fun part. 

We start every shoot by first choosing a subject and setting the scene. This includes setting up props, backgrounds, lighting and preparing the food. Kyle helps me create the scene and serves as a sounding board for my ideas.

For all my shoots we use the Sony A7iii with the 90mm f2.8 macro or the 50mm f/1.8 lenses. Our macro lens allows us to get up and close, get every detail of the food, and imitate its authentic behaviour, and the 50mm lens helps with the top-down shots. 

The cameras are mounted on a Benro tripod system. I use either the System Goplus, which has an overhead arm for top-down images, or the Bat tripod with its geared head. also have my Sony wireless trigger and my laptop tethered to the camera. This allows me to have considerable control over my styling and light and helps to get things going faster. 

For all our levitating shots, we use our home-built setups and bring your idea to life. 

As soon as the scene is set, I play with light, props, background and even the food to make it look as mouth-watering as possible. Normally I shoot at ISO 100 and change my aperture and shutter speed depending on the assignment. Taking a lot of pictures in continuous shooting mode and picking the best ones is a good start. 

After meticulously sorting all my images, I edit them on Adobe Lightroom and often layer two or more images in Adobe Photoshop to get the best effect. For this part, Kyle is, once again, my go-to person. His expert Photoshop skills help me cut down editing time, and he is far more organised than I am with the layers. 

Over the years I have grown to appreciate the beauty of post-processing. Although Photoshop has some pretty negative connotations, the post-processing of your photos will allow you to become creative and convey so much more through your images. Your inner creativity will thank you for this. 

The end result of all this work is quite dynamic and colourful. If you stumble on my Instagram, you will find more such frozen magical foods meticulously crafted playfully. My goal is to get my audience excited about the photo as much as the food itself. 

But First Salt creates visually engaging content and has the power to stop you in your tracks, wide-eyed, tickle your taste buds and say, "I want that!"

Special feature

Fotograaf William Rutten –
Instagram portfolio shootout