Hello + Q&A

Hello! Marie here from @eatswithmarie. If you’ve been following me for a while, you may remember the original eatswithmarie blog, a free little WordPress site that I used to share Sydney cafe and restaurant reviews. A lot has changed since then, both in my personal and professional life, but one thing has remained constant and that’s my love for food!

I can’t wait to share some of my passion with you through beautiful imagery, cafe and restaurant reviews, recipes and curated travel guides. I’m also looking forward to sharing my own food photography and styling tips to help you creating drool-worthy content and, if you’re interested, monetising your hobby!

Q&A

I’ve included a little Q&A below with some questions that you guys asked me on Instagram. If there’s anything else you’d like to know, please feel free to leave them in the comments below!

Please note: I have included some links to products/items mentioned in the Q&A below. Some of these are affiliate links meaning I will earn a small commission if you make a purchase through them. I only recommend brands/products that I use and trust and have chosen to include them here to show you exactly what products I’m talking about ๐Ÿ™‚ See my disclosure here for more information and please leave a comment below if you have any questions about products listed below!

Q&A

How old are you?

26

What is your favourite/cuisine?

Hands down, my ultimate favourite food is gelato ๐Ÿ˜› I am a big sweet tooth! My favourite cuisine would have to be Japanese, or Vietnamese (my ultimate comfort food).

What camera/photography gear do you use?

I’m currently shooting with the Canon EOS R (which I LOVE!!) My two favourite lenses are the 24-70mm f/2.8 and the Canon 50mm f/1.4, which I use with a Canon EF-EOSR mount adapter. I also shoot with a Godox V860II speedlight (shooting with artifical light is a huge passion of mine!)

What do you use to edit?

Lightroom & Photoshop

Did you study photography/marketing?

Not at all – I wish I did! I actually studied science majoring in psychology and wanted to go into clinical psych.

How did you learn photography and styling?

Lots of practice! I’m completely self-taught. I’ve watched a lot of Youtube tutorials and have spent countless hours doing research and reading online articles about photography, equipment, etc. As for styling, I spend a lot of time looking for inspiration through Pinterest, blogs, Instagram, cookbooks and magazines. I’m also currently learning a lot more about composition techniques and trying to actively use them in my content.

Most memorable dish from your foodie adventures?

This is such a difficult question to answer and I don’t think I could narrow it down to just one! My 2019 Japan trip springs to mind immediately – particularly the omakase from Sushi Dai at Toyosu Fish Markets and the truffle shoyu ramen (the world’s first Michelin starred ramen!) at Tsutu Ramen, both in Tokyo. 

How did you start out/your journey on becoming a successful food blogger?

In December 2016, I created a food-specific Instagram account called @feastinginsydney, which acted as a personal album of iPhone photos documenting my visits to local Sydney eateries. I didn’t intend for anyone else to see it apart from my family and friends – in fact, I had less than 200 followers for the first year and only discovered hashtags a few months in!

It was April 2018 when I changed my Instagram handle to @eatswithmarie and made a conscious decision to start taking my Instagram and content creation more seriously – it was then that I started getting noticed and receiving more and more collaboration requests.

By the end of 2018, I decided to up my photography game and purchased my first interchangeable lens camera – the Fujifilm X-T20 (my first true camera love!). This is where the fun really began!

By February 2019, I did my first paid collaboration with a restaurant and in March 2019, I was booking paid photography and social media management jobs. That month, I also reached 10k followers on Instagram, which I had built from just 700 on the day that I started my blog 12 months earlier.

In May, I was able to go part-time at my office job and I’ve been working as a photographer ever since! I’m still learning so many new things each and every day and look forward to sharing some of this with you all through this blog ๐Ÿ™‚

Favourite brunch spot in Sydney?

I can’t possibly narrow it down to one! Some of my favourites are:

  • Circa Espresso, Parramatta – the baked eggs are one of my favourite brunch dishes ever!
  • Brickfields, Chippendale – their sourdough is everything
  • Calla, Pyrmont
  • Bread & Circus, Alexandria
  • Cuckoo Callay, Surry Hills & Newtown
  • Flower Child Cafe, Chatswood & Warringah Mall
  • Rustic Pearl, Surry Hills
  • Kusuka Cafe, CBD
  • Qube on Bay, Ultimo

I’m probably missing a few! We are absolutely spoilt for choice and I strongly believe that Sydney & Melbourne do some of the best brunches in the world.

What are your tips for a newbie food blogger? Would you recommend investing in a good camera?

Yes, I definitely recommend investing in good camera if you are interested in developing your photography skills! However, this is not to say that having a camera is essential to get started (and, you also don’t need to spend a ridiculous amount of money on a camera). Phone cameras have come a long way in recent years! If you’re completely new to food photography/blogging, I recommend starting out with your phone or whatever camera gear you have. Experiment with shooting food, find the best angles and get inspired! Once you have decided that this is a hobby that you want to pursue, then perhaps consider investing in cameras and gear ๐Ÿ™‚

I also recommend connecting with other like-minded food bloggers and really immersing yourself in the community! There is so much value in learning from other people, and if you’re a cafe/restaurant blogger (as opposed to a recipe food blogger), it’s a lot more fun to shoot with others! By connecting with others, you’re more likely get more event invites/collaborations as well. If you’re located in Australia, check out FCBA Community – I met lots of my foodie friends through their events!

If I had $1000, what camera is the best value for food photography?

Thanks Mick from Hungry Diner for this question!

Note: I’m no camera or photography expert and haven’t tested out a huge range of cameras, so can only use my personal experience and knowledge to answer this question. Please do your research and don’t be afraid to ask for advice at your local camera store. 

I built my photography career using the Fujifilm X-T20, which together with the Fujifilm 35mm f/1.4 lens  is about AUD $1.5k (I used this camera/lens combo for basically all shots, except flatlays). This little camera can do some amazing stuff and the price point is very reasonable in my opinion. My only huge gripe with this camera is that it does not have a fully articulating screen (i.e. flippy/swivelly screen). It tilts up/down which is fine for general use, however, if you want to do flatlays and overhead table shots (without mounting your camera to a tripod/c-stand), you’re often shooting blind. 

There are also plenty of affordable crop sensor DSLR cameras on the market. A fellow blogger/food photographer of mine who produces stunning images (check her out – @cherri_cupcake!) uses the Canon 200D + 18-55mm f/4 kit lens (great for flatlays) + Canon 50mm f/1.8 lens (around $200). With this kit and you’ll be producing some awesome content in no time, all for under $1000! 

For whichever camera body you decide to go with, I recommend starting out with the super affordable ‘nifty fifty’ Canon 50mm f/1.8 lens, which I have used myself in the past and absolutely love! Most camera manufacturers have a version of the nifty fifty available so this is a great lens to start with if you’re on a budget (it’ll give you those beautiful shots with a creamy, blurry background).

How did you build up your following/what is the best strategy to use when social media marketing?

  1. Produce good quality content – this should be your primary focus, always.
  2. ENGAGE, ENGAGE, ENGAGE within your niche – Engagement is huge. Coupled with quality content, engagement is the number one way to grow your account fast. Engage with other accounts within your niche through valuable and meaningful comments (do not copy and paste!), likes and follows. But, don’t be spammy – Instagram is quick to give warnings to potential spam activity, and you could even get banned for making too many actions within a short period of time.
  3. Be consistent – post every day if you can, and if you can’t, stick to a regular posting schedule (e.g. 3 posts per week)
  4. Use a robust hashtag strategy – put thought into your hashtags and don’t just use big ones like #food #yum! Monitor and track how each post is performing in terms of engagement and reach and mix up the hashtags you use. Also, you can use up to 30 hashtags, these are 30 opportunities for exposure, so in my opinion – use them all! 
  5. Keep up-to-date with Instagram’s new features (and use them!) – Drops in engagement often coincide with the roll out of new features on Instagram. Most recently, we saw the launch of Instagram Reels! There seems to be quite a lot of engagement in that space, which is Instagram’s way of encouraging you to try it out! 

Yes, the Instagram algorithm has changed a lot in the past year or so and yes, most of us have seen a decline in engagement, however, the above approach to Instagram still works. Likes are just no longer the best indicator of success! If you are a business owner and have the capacity/budget to consider Facebook & Instagram advertising, then this is also an extremely powerful tool if utilised correctly.

If you would like me to write more blog posts about social media marketing, feel free to leave a comment below!

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