Creative Genius: Marte Marie Forsberg
Get to know this talented, world-traveling photographer and foodie extraordinaire.
Marte Marie Forsberg is a Norwegian-born food and lifestyle photographer living in the English countryside. Her Instagram feed is full of moody photos of mouthwatering rustic fare that makes you want to move right into her kitchen. Her cookbook, The Cottage Kitchen, is a reflection of everything Marie loves: food, home and family. Recently, Marie shared her insight on photography, cooking and traveling with us.
When did you start to cook?
I didn’t really explore the kitchen before I found my whitewashed cottage in the English countryside. When I started to cook, I drew from my Scandinavian culinary heritage and recipes shared by my mother. As I grew more confident, I began incorporating the abundant produce available from a local farmer from the village market close to my new home into my favorite meals. All this helped me find direction in my work as a photographer.
How did you get into photography, travel and cooking as a career?
During my last year studying Middle Eastern studies in the States, I signed up for an introduction to photography 101 class on a whim. I wouldn’t say I fell in love instantly with the camera but it was fun to capture and explore the world of light and composition through the lens. After my studies, I returned back to Norway and nestled in a small studio on the island next to my parents’ home. I began combining my passion for eating with cooking and photography. It was there I began to understand the use of light in storytelling and reignited my dormant cookery skills, taught to me by my mother.
When I moved to a small village in the English countryside, it was like all the stars aligned. I eagerly began exploring the food scene in the area, hunting season, wild boar, game, local cheeses, fresh fish from the local fishmonger, homemade butter and fresh produce. I went back to the cottage each day with a full basket and got to work. I started to share my everyday life and work on Instagram. I found something I loved — being able to tell visual stories around food.
Why did you settle in Dorset?
One cold November night, as I slept in a bed and breakfast in England after a photography job there, I couldn’t sleep. I tossed and turned, staying awake to the bright light from the full moon that night. So I turned to the internet, as you do, to keep me company through this sleepless night, and for fun typed in “houses for rent in England” in the search field. Twelve pages in, my heart skipped a beat by the sight of a small hobbit-like, thatched cottage with a picket fence and a small garden. It felt as though it was my cottage, and before anyone could talk me into reason, I simply saw it, signed the contract and moved in within days.
I didn't know the area, I didn’t know anyone there and I knew nothing about Dorset, but perhaps the universe nudged me that night in the right direction for me. What I discovered was that this beautiful shire in the English countryside had not only the most charming village dotting the edges of lush green rolling hills, majestic coastline and the most inviting afternoon tea ritual, but all of it spoke to me and made me feel like I'd found everything I loved in one tiny part of the world.
I simply leapt and pitched my tent so to speak. Because when you get that feeling and your heart skips like that, there no need to ask any questions, you simply act and trust the answers will come. And they did. Now I can't think of permanently living anywhere else in the world. I may have been born in Norway on a fjord island, but my heart beats amongst the green rolling hills of the English countryside.
How often do you travel?
Travel is in my blood and is constantly on my mind. These days I don’t travel as often as I used to — only every second month or so — however, I used to breathe in the air of a new destination on a weekly basis before I found my wonky little cottage in England and discovered a place that gave me the freedom to stay longer in one spot before yearning to spread my wings again. But travel runs in my veins and sometimes I need to travel on a regular basis. It inspires me, makes me feel alive and keeps me on my toes. Traveling is my single favorite hobby.
Where are the best places you've visited so far?
I’ve been lucky to have visited many extraordinary places, but the place I keep returning to and indulge in food like there’s no tomorrow is Venice, any time of the year, and always off the beaten track. The Venetian Cicchetti (small dishes served in a bar) is probably my favorite type of food ever, closely followed by Roman cuisine, specifically the Jewish ghetto in Rome. I simply cannot leave without eating too many deep fried artichokes. And then I love Japanese cuisine — its textures and flavors and cooking methods. But one more culinary hero has to be included, and that is France. Rustic and traditional French home cooking has my heart, and with a visit to all the above, I could die with a smile on my face.
I love seeing your pup, Mr. Whiskey, in many of your Instagram photos. Tell me how he inspires your photography/art.
My cheeky Mr. Whiskey is such a charming rascal. We first met online, where I saw a sad photo of him on a rescue site. I fell in love and felt that we were made to set out on adventures together. He had a troubled past and we have spent years finding a way to communicate better with each other and, through that, we forged a beautiful friendship. I couldn’t imagine my cottage without him. He’s got so much character and so much love. It's touching. He sort of naturally began posing when I would set up a shot, so I simply began including him. He has become a part of the family and is always snuggled up by the stove as I cook away in the kitchen. For me, he has become a part of the story and fits right in with his cheeky little snout sniffing away as I pull a freshly baked tray of cardamom buns out of the oven. One day I hope to tell stories about his adventures not only through photography but also through the written word — he deserves his very own book.