Food composition & styling is a connected, subjective and creative process. This week Behind the Lens we catch up with Serena Ko aka @skeatravelife, and the foodie behind blog site: skeatravelife.com. She shares with us some great food photography tips and tells us how it plays a role in so many aspects of her daily life.
Can you tell us a bit more about yourself? What do you do besides your passion for food?
Hey everyone, I’m Serena. I am an email marketing specialist with a passion for social media. I love exploring new lifestyle spots while chit-chatting with friends over good food and drinks. All while thinking of the various angles I could shoot in each unique location. I also love travelling, tennis, piano and listening to jazz music.
How do you see the role of food photography on your IG account? Do you find your followers are more inspired by the photos or by the comments you make on the dishes?
Food photography is definitely part of my daily life. I like to capture what I eat every day and my phone is 90% filled with food photos! I follow a schedule of shooting photos and editing posts, which ensures a more organised and consistent feed on my blog. Generally my followers are more engaged by the photos than the reviews. Good photos certainly catch people’s attention first. But I’m also trying to focus on the comments to maintain a nice balance.
What gear do you use to document your dining experiences?
Mostly iPhone 11 Pro, but sometimes with my Sony RX100 VI compact camera.
Can you share your very favourite food shot on your Instagram? What’s the story behind it?
I love all my photos on Instagram! But my favourite food shot is of these delicious Doughnuts from @doughbydesignhk. I still remember being so tempted by them because they looked super good. And there weren’t many other good options in the area. They were a new concept at the time and despite not reading any reviews about them, as I normally do before trying something new, I gave them a go. Not only were they extremely yummy doughnuts, but it stuck in my mind that the owners made good relationships with all of their customers. In fact when I was going through a tough time, the owners offered me a free box of doughnuts, which I’m very thankful for.
In your point of view, what kind of food image is the most engaging content on your blog?
It’s less about what I’m shooting. And more about how I’m shooting. There are 3 types of angles that generate the most engagement on my Instagram.
First: Storefront (Lifestyle)
Interestingly, this is a trend in HK and people love to search for IG-able spots for photo taking. And storefronts represent the first impression of the cafe/restaurant, which is gradually becoming more important right now.
Hand photography can be tricky. But with some patience and practice it can come naturally for you. Literally, just add some movement in your shot. Hands will also help brighten up a food shot. It’s a simple and effective way to relate to the image.
Personally, I love taking flatlays. Super fun to create, style and shoot for a nice aesthetic photo. I would suggest adding some layering to the shots, like your bag, magazine, accessories or even your shoes.
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?
The first tip is if you are dining in dim light, try to see if they have a candle on your table. If so, put your dish closer to the candle. Try to avoid using the flash.
The second tip is to get props from the cafe/restaurant. For example, you could ask for the menu, extra cutlery, water glasses, or even a newspaper or flowers. Additional elements ensure that your shot won’t be too boring and yet look very natural.
The third tip is to shoot with natural light where possible. I also highly recommend Lightroom and Snapsee for photo editing.
What is your favourite type of food to shoot?
I love taking photos of coffee, cookies, desserts and even my homemade baked goods.
For coffee shots:
For cookies shots:
For dessert/birthday cake shots:
For homemade baked goods shots:
Favourite restaurant in HK?
I don’t have just one favourite! Depending on my mood and the occasion, these are my go to places: Check in Taipei, Good Good Grocery, Ming court, Nojo, Flower Drum, Fukuro, Vea, Sukiyaki Mori, Porker, Delicious Dumplings, Baked, Pizza Project, Wing Kee Cart Noodles, Darkside, 001
What advice would you give to new food bloggers?
Be yourself and don’t just follow the trends. Share what you truly like, and don’t focus too much on the freebies or the numbers of likes/followers. Put more effort on the quality of the content. Be authentic and engage with the people who share the same interest with you.
About Dishtag: As an early adopter of the Dishtag app, what do you like most about it?
I like how Dishtag has gathered all the people who shared the same passion for food. The app is easy to navigate for the cuisine/dishes that you prefer and an easy-friendly app for sure. I also love the photography tips from Dishtag too! Highly recommend to all food lovers!