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 my culinary experiences. 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! There is nothing that makes me happier than spending time with my loved ones over a meal and travelling the world in search of new and delicious things.
I’m so excited 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!
I’ve included a little Q&A below with some questions that you guys asked me in response to an Instagram story I posted. 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 🙂 See my disclosure here for more information and please leave a comment below if you have any questions about products listed below!
How old are you?
What is your favourite/cuisine?
Hands down, my ultimate favourite food is gelato 😛 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 (there’s nothing more fun for me than shooting with artifical light!)
What do you use to edit?
Lightroom & Photoshop
Did you study photography/marketing?
No. I studied science! Majored in psychology.
How did you learn photography and styling?
Practice, practice, 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! Something that comes to mind immediately is the omakase from Sushi Dai at Toyosu Fish Markets in Tokyo. I dream of eating there again!
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 was essentially a personal album of iPhone photos documenting my visits to local cafes and restaurants. 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!
In February 2018, I received my first ever invite to try the fried ice cream at Duo Duo and I was SO excited that they had written my Instagram handle on my ice cream cup! 😀 It was around this time that I discovered portrait mode on iPhone and was completely mesmerised by that blurry background…
For my birthday that year, I received a little point and shoot digital camera – the Canon G7X Mark II. I was over the moon and starting snapping photos of everything, everywhere! I created my first free WordPress blog at the beginning of April and changed my Instagram handle to @eatswithmarie. I made a conscious decision to start taking my Instagram and content creation more seriously, and 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. This 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 and social media manager 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 🙂
Favourite brunch spot in Sydney?
I can’t possibly narrow it down to one! Some of my all-time favourites are:
- Circa Espresso, Parramatta (the baked eggs are one of my favourite brunch dishes ever!)
- Brickfields, Chippendale
- Bread & Circus, Alexandria
- Auvers, Darling Square & Rhodes
- Son of a Baker, Sans Souci
- Flower Child Cafe, Chatswood & Warringah Mall
- Cuckoo Callay, Surry Hills & Newtown
- Rustic Pearl, Surry Hills
- Kusuka Cafe, CBD
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.
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. 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 shots, this will make things difficult.
If you are looking to do professional food photography, I recommend going with a full frame camera, which means you will have to increase your budget a little. The most affordable full frame camera on the market is the Canon 6D Mark II, which produces some incredible photos. If you’re not too fussed about doing flatlays, you could start out with the super affordable ‘nifty fifty’ Canon 50mm f/1.8 lens, which 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 if you are on a budget (it’ll give you those beautiful shots with a creamy, blurry background).
If you don’t have any wiggle room with your budget, there are 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!
What are your tips for a newbie food blogger? Would you recommend investing in a good camera?
Yes, I definitely recommend investing in an interchangeable lens camera if you are interested in developing your photography skills! See the above question regarding cameras on a budget.
However, this is not to say that having a camera is essential to get started – 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 be inspired! Once you have decided that this is a hobby that you want to pursue, then perhaps consider investing in cameras and gear 🙂
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!
How did you build up your following/what is the best strategy to use when social media marketing?
- Produce good quality content – this should be your primary focus, always.
- Engage within your niche (and with your followers!) – reply to all your comments and DMs, 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 will not hesitate to give you a warning and even a ban if you make too many actions within a short period of time.
- Be consistent – post every day if you can, and if you can’t, stick to a regular posting schedule.
- 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.
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!