Gloria Chung, Food & Travel HK

Behind the Lens with @foodandtravelhk

Posted on July 31, 2020 by Alexandra Leung

It’s a beautiful thing when career and a passion come together. This week we caught up with Gloria Chung (@foodandtravelhk), a food & travel journalist and food stylist based in Hong Kong. Gloria has built up an impressive social media account with over 50k followers - Food & Travel Hong Kong. She shared with us how she started her food photography and styling journey and her view on food photography.

Can you tell us a bit more about yourself? What do you do besides your passion for food?

I am a food and travel journalist, food stylist and content creator. I started my career in printed magazine 10+ years ago and specialise in food and travel stories. I still write a lot for publications such as ELLE, JET, Mingpao. I developed my interest towards photography and food styling whilst working in media. Now I work mainly as a stylist and copy writer for commercial clients.

How do you see the role of food photography on your IG account? Do you find your followers more inspired by the photos or by the comments you make on the dishes?

I started my Instagram account after my boss connected with me on facebook (XD)! It was also an outlet for me to post things that cannot be shown in the magazine: behind the scenes photos of food and restaurants, IG stories and my opinion about certain things.

As a journalist, I had to keep objectivity so I couldn’t show much of my personality in the magazine. Now when I think about it, I am glad that I have this creative outlet because it keeps me alive as a person. So when it comes to “followers”, or better call them friends who I share my opinion with, I hope they appreciate food stories, comments and photos from a journalistic point of view. They might not be as well planned as what you see in a magazine, but they are authentic.

Food photography is the most important and also least important part of my account. I love food photography but I don’t tend to drill too much in to it. Mainly because I am rather tired taking perfect pictures as a food stylist and photographer. When I am “off-duty”, I just “snap them”. I don’t do any set up nor spend half an hour arranging the table. I just want to eat!

On top of that, I believe that showing the authenticity of the restaurant, the city and the food is crucial, especially when the digital world is flooded with “aspirational” photos. I still try to find the best angle and book a table next to the window!

What gear do you use to document your dining experiences? 

Iphone 11 pro and Canon 5D Mark 4.

Can you share your very favourite food shot on your Instagram? What’s the story behind? 

There are couple of recent shots that I really like.

Shot of a bottle of cocktail from Poet Bar.
Shot of a take away cocktail from Poet Bar

The take away bottle is so beautiful with the reflection on the table. Shot during the golden hour, the light creates a moody happy hour feeling.

A shot from Mamma Always Said.
A shot from Mamma Always Said

I make use of the backlight from the window to highlight the silhouette of the food. It was a special media session so I got a chance to get all the food in one go and arrange it quickly like this.

What kind of food image is the most engaging on your blog? 
Lifestyle Shot @APT Coffee
Lifestyle Shot @APT Coffee

Surprisingly, the most engaging photos are pictures of the shop front! I guess there are some design fans in my followers.

Your photos look so yummy and inspiring! Could you give us a few tips on how to take great food photos even when dining out in non-optimal situations? For example lack of lighting, lack of props, dishes that may look dull, etc…

1) Lighting – Book a table next to the window. Make sure you have a good source of natural light. If you are dining at night and feel like you want to document the meal, bring a little LED light with you and filter by covering it with tissue paper.

Lifestyle shot @Twenty Fifth Hour with natural lighting
Lifestyle shot @Twenty Fifth Hour with natural lighting

2) Props – Make use of what you have on the table. Or use the corner of the table/chair. Try not to disturb other guests and the restaurants by moving the stuff in the restaurant to use as props. No one likes a rude “blogger” 🙂

Lifestyle shot at Amam Dacotan, Japan
Lifestyle shot at Amam Dacotan, Japan

3) Food – arrange and show the main ingredients. Find the most delicious angle of the food ( eg. a chicken leg is always better than the butt when you are shooting a whole roasted chicken). Also, drizzle a bit of oil or water on top to bring the food to life.

Pancake shot @白金茶房, Japan
Food shot highlighting the ingredients @白金茶房, Japan

4) Angle – side angle if the spotlight is too strong; top view if you have nice natural lights. Close up is always a good option if the dining table is too small.

Side angle shot @Écriture
Side angle shot @Écriture
What is your favourite type of food to shoot? 

Pastries are always photogenic. But seriously, I am happy to shoot genuine good food. No fuss. No gimmick. Cooked honestly by using quality ingredients.

Pistachio Danish @Four Seasons Hotel Hong Kong
Pistachio Danish @Four Seasons Hotel Hong Kong
Favourite restaurant in HK?  

VEA Restaurant & Lounge, Bedu, New Punjab Club, Run in The St. Regis Hong Kong, Roganic/Aulis, Tate Dining Room, Nhau and many more!

What advice would you give to new food bloggers?

Be authentic. Don’t eat for likes, following or freebies. It’s exhausting and a waste of your time.

As you are one of the earlier adopters of our newly-launched Dishtag app, can you tell us what you like about it? 

I think it is a very user friendly app!

Discover more ‘behind the lens’ photography tips from fellow foodies:

 

Behind the Lens with @eatswithkally

Behind the Lens with @clai_eats

Behind the Lens with HK food blogger Joyce To

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