Tell us about your self.
Hi, I am Shumaila, a food blogger and freelance food and lifestyle photographer. Occasionally I also shoot weddings and I love baking.
How do you describe your journey so far from a novice housewife to a professional photographer?
It’s been a long one! I started blogging in July 2010, and never thought it could be anything more than a space to share my recipes and experiences. For the first few years monetizing my blog did not even cross my mind. I have always loved photography, and during college years I was the person who had the camera and my friends would come to me to get photos off the camera roll. Shooting food only started with my blog though. When I started shooting food for my blog posts, I was absolutely clueless and would never give too much thought to composition, lighting or styling. I used my point and shoot for all my photos. There were some food related photo sharing sites which were good traffic drivers to your blog (foodgawker and tastespotting). This was before instagram, and getting featured on these sites meant good traffic for your blog. I got a lot of photo rejections, but with each rejection they gave a reason as to why the photo was rejected. I took that feedback and would google search/youtube how to improve composition, lighting, white balance, etc. When I got slightly better, I invested in a crop frame DSLR, slowly switched from auto to manual and then to RAW. Each year I improved and got more confident. Each day I am still improving and learning something new.
You are an inspiration to many of us. Could you recount any “aha “moments or wow moments. Also share one of your best compliments you have received so far??
I think whenever someone tells me that I inspire them, to me that is the best compliment. People you have never met know about you and tell you that they are a fan of your work, it’s like a tiny celebrity moment! As for aha moments or wow moments, I racked my brain for this and couldn’t come up with anything. There are certain photos/videos I am very happy with and felt I did a good job but to say those were my aha or wow moments, I don’t know. I feel there’s still so much more to do in terms of my work, that its not there yet. I guess that feeling pushes me to keep doing better.
Your photography is absolutely stunning and your styling too. What inspires you ?
Thank you ☺. There is so much inspiration everywhere. In every day life, in real life and in the digital. There are so many bloggers and photographers I derive inspiration from. Some of my favorites are Bea Lubas, Matt Armendariz, Himanshu taneja, Deeba Rajpal, kayley Mccabe, VK Rees, Nora and Laura of Our Food Stories, Asha of Food Fashion Party and so many more. The list is endless. I love to also go through non food stuff- to see what color palettes go together or might go together. Nature too can be insightful for that. Since I have started making videos, cinematography in films, ads everything inspires me. One just needs to keep their eyes open.
How do you prepare your photo shoots? Would love to hear about it.
For professional shoots, I always ask the client a little about their product, food, history, what inspired them to start that venture or go for that particular cuisine. I ask them for a brief or reference images. Its always better to ask your client for that to get an idea of the mood and feel they want to convey through their brand imagery. Accordingly I decide the backgrounds, props- whether it should be more rustic, or contemporary, ethnic or modern. I then make a mood board to place all my thoughts together with reference images and any other notes I have. I love to tell a story through the photos wherever possible. I make a list of my props, backgrounds, ingredients, etc that I would need for each set up. Sometimes I sketch the image on a page, decide the angles before hand. It makes things smoother and quicker if I have everything clear in my head. It does not always go as planned, because things don’t always translate well from paper to reality, then I improvise. A similar thought and planning process goes on when I shoot for my blog too.
What is in your camera bag ? What is your favourite gear so far?
I am a Nikon girl. My first DSLR was a Nikon D7000 and it was my best buddy for 4 years and last year November is when I upgraded to my first full frame. In my camera bag, is the Nikon D750, a Nikkor 50mm f/1.4 lens, a Nikkor 105mm f/2.8 and a Nikkor 24-70 f/2.8. You will also find a tethering cable, my speedlight, battery charger and two spare Nikon batteries. My favorite gear so far has to be my 105mm, though for top shots I love my 24-70mm. For portraits it’s the 50mm.
What is the best piece of advice you have received so far?
Technically, to make the change from jpeg to RAW. Personally, to be more confident of my work.
What would be your best advice to those aspiring bloggers and photographers?
To be patient. It can take time to build a reputation for yourself, get recognition for your work. Don’t lose hope and keep practicing. Observe, study light. Don’t be afraid to try new things, techniques and always keep learning.
I know you are a talented baker too. Share us few links to your favourite bakes.
Like I mentioned in my intro, I love baking. I ran a home based baking business where I made customized cakes and cupcakes for about a year before switching to photography full time. I still love baking for family and friends. Some of my favorite recipes are:
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