This month I'd like to introduce you to a fabulous food photographer, stylist & recipe developer Mariam Hamdy
Can you introduce yourself? How and when did you start your food photography journey?
Since a young age, I've had a passion for food and after I graduated with my architecture degree I felt that something is missing. So I decided to pursue a culinary degree to become a Chef instead. However, whenever I tried to share my recipes on Instagram, they always looked terrible, no matter how good the food actually was. This is what motivated me to start my food photography journey. I wanted to learn how to take better photos that would do my food justice. What began as a hobby soon turned into a business and now I work as a recipe developer, food photographer and stylist.
Where do you get your inspiration from? Do you adore any specific photographers?
I get my inspiration from the food itself, and the ingredients but also from social media of course. I am following so many incredible photographers that inspire me every day. Some of them in particular has affected my style a lot, I love how Eva and Viola master storytelling. I also admire Silvia's attention to detail and colours as well as Lu's. And of course Bea's and Rachel's colour theories and lighting techniques.
What do you think should be in a good portfolio?
I really believe that a portfolio should encompass a diverse range of your creative work. It should demonstrate your versatility and ability to tackle various styles, moods and subjects. Your portfolio should include both bright and airy photographs as well as darker, moodier ones. It should showcase close-ups as well as wide shots, and explore different angles, colour theories, and subjects. Essentially, your portfolio should be a representation of your skills and capabilities, a way to communicate to others what you are capable of achieving.
How do you prepare a food-styling set?
I always start with a mood board that has every single detail in it. From angles to styling inspirations, props and backdrops as well as colours and lighting mood. I also sometimes have a mood board for each shot/angle I plan on taking, so I make sure I am covering everything.
What is your favourite subject to capture?
Cakes, because they are so easy to work with and always look gorgeous no matter what. They are like a blank canvas, there is so much room to be creative around it. But I also love salads, because they have so many textures and shapes that you can play with to create something beautiful and interesting, but also the layering and the way you build it is key to beautiful styling.
Do you work with natural or artificial light?
I used to work with natural light for 6 years now and recently a month ago, I switched to artificial light. I still love natural light and use it in my personal work and nothing can mimic it in my opinion, but artificial light is a game changer when it comes to client work. The consistency and flexibility you get with artificial light are crucial and cut my editing time in half.
What is a must-have in food photography?
Other than a good light of course I would say a good lens. Having the right lens makes all the difference in capturing a scene. I get so many photographers who attend my workshops with a kit lens, feeling frustrated that they can't capture the scene the way they want to.
Can you tell us what’s your favourite colour theory and composition? And do you have colours you don’t feel comfortable with?
I prefer complementary or analogous colours. I'm not really a monochromatic kind of person, I always love the contrast and colour pop. As for compositions, I love abundance and generous scenes, so I like to use repetition and patterns as well as layering and textures, but my go-to composition tool is always the golden triangle and framing. I think framing gives so much depth and layering to any set-up and automatically transforms it into something deeper.
Do you have some photography tips and hints?
Use natural light and understand it. Natural light will really push you to understand how light forms and moves, the different colour tints and casts and how to work with any lighting situation. It will challenge you and stretch your capabilities and help you really grow as a photographer.
Learn your camera capabilities and shoot in manual mode. It is important that you tell the camera what to do and not the other way around.
Whenever you shoot a subject, take the time to observe and look for interest in your setup. Ask yourself what should the story be, what should you focus on and what is the best way to capture that story.
Mariam, it was a pleasure to meet you closer, the way you work with food and what you love the most about food photography.
If you have any questions or struggle with any subject, send me a DM on my Instagram or email me. I will do my best to answer and help.