My name is Kairi – a commercial photographer and stylist based in Brisbane, Australia. A big foodie, wine lover……baker, a cook, dog lover……and more.
Food has always been a big thing for me. I enjoy spending my time in the kitchen trying out recipes: whether that is throwing things together and developing something of my own or actually measuring my ingredients for a slice of cake. I love entertaining and planning dinner parties…..years ago I literally binge watched Come Dine with Me so I would never run out of ideas what to cook when friends came over. And, of course, I enjoy trying out amazing food venues around the town.
I grew up on simple foods. Hailing from ex Soviet country Estonia, we had never heard of oysters or Pad Thai and pasta in those days translated to macaroni. I ate my first banana at the age of 6 and majority of my diet consisted of dark rye bread, potatoes, root vegetables, fish and meat. In a modern world I guess you can call it a Scandi diet. In 80s and 90s it was all we knew.
I was lucky to grow up in the countryside where we grew our own produce. From potatoes and beets to tomatoes, apples and more. In summer we would go to the forest and pick wild berries and mushrooms and in autumn fresh hazel nuts. Living on the island, there was always fish around. And I am not talking about anything fancy here but sardines, herring, mackerel and sole mostly. Occasionally we also had a taste of trout and salmon.
Our cellar was filled with relishes, pickles, home made jam and compote to keep us going during the winter. Shops on our island were not that well equipped and we could only dream of everything that I can buy as part of my groceries today. Perhaps that’s why I actually love food shopping. I could spend hours in a food market or supermarket. 😀
As a kid I didn’t fully appreciate what we had back then. I absolutely hated doing any gardening. Now, living at the other side of the globe years later as a grown up, I do miss being able to pick wild berries in the forest and enjoy fresh produce straight from the garden. It’s funny how having your own vegetable garden suddenly becomes popular when you get older and you find a sense of calm dipping your fingers in the soil.
I learned to cook by watching my mother and grandmother prepare food. At the age of 14 I left home to attend the high school in a local town and as daily return trip each day on the bus seemed tiring, I decided to rent a room with my friend Cathlin. My mum needed a bit of convincing at first but both of our mums got on board eventually. That of course meant I had to sort out my own dinners whilst I was residing in town during the week. I am talking about a small country town where life is mostly safe and only scare is some drunk person wondering around the streets. In today’s age, no one would let their kids leave home at the age of 14, neither do you meet many 14 year olds who can cook.
When I was 17, I got my first job as a kitchen hand in the hotel’s kitchen. Despite working long hours, I was proud of making my own money and learning more about food prepping from the pros. During the quieter season or when the hotel was not so busy, I was left in charge of the morning buffet. Most of the prep was made the night before but I had to prepare the hot breakfast. I was super proud for this responsibility and felt like a proper grown up. During my time at the kitchen, I was also in charge of desserts and cakes for bigger group bookings. I guess you could say that working in the kitchen was the time and place in my life I grew to love food prepping and experimenting with various ingredients I had never used before.
After leaving the hotel, I spent 9 months in Finland as an Au pair and then years in various office roles and in a corporate world.
In 2007 I moved to London to be with my boyfriend at the time. During my time in UK, my evenings were filled with numerous cooking shows: from Nigella to Jamie Oliver, Gordon Ramsey, Masterchef to Great British Bake Off, Come Dine with Me and more. You name it, I watched it. Nowadays I am not a big fan of TV.
When I lived in London I also had my own little side hustle selling artisan biscuits and cookies. I attended some food events and markets around the town with my stall but as working full time and baking at weekends became too much at some point, I decided to pack it in. Next, me and my friend Pille started a small catering business. We did a few events and the feedback we received was great so there was definitely potential there but eventually when Neil and I got a visa to come to Australia, we decided to shut it down.
My first job in Australia was in a corporate catering company in Sydney. It was hard to get an office job as no one then was willing to give me a chance without a local work experience. My previous experience did not matter. So, I decided that I was not afraid to get my hands dirty and getting back into catering would be amazing. Little did I know that it turned out to be one of those horrible toxic environments with long hours and ridiculously s*** money. Six months later I was depressed and I had lost any interest for cooking. Slicing into my thumb with a sharp knife resulting in stitches was the last drop, and I decided to leave. On my last day I got a call from a recruitment agency…I had finally landed a temp admin role.
I had always owned a camera and taken photos of events that I attended throughout the years but I never thought that I had an eye for photography so I never pursued it as a profession. I never thought about doing any photography training either. Years ago I had a friend who studied photography. There were no digital cameras back then….But not once throughout the years when we hung out, did I think about getting into photography myself. Not until 2019.
During the Covid I felt like I needed a new hobby and I thought I would love to learn more about photography. So I treated myself to a beginner level camera and bought Foodtography School photography course run by Sarah Crawford. And the rest is history….