It is time for “Heart to Heart” in July and today’s guest of honor is Aisha Yusaf.
If you have been active on flickr for even the smallest amount of time and showed the slightest interest in food photography, bet you would have surely stumbled on her photos and been hooked onto them. Just like I did.
I adore her work. They are pure art. And, I quote her “photography is an art, and in art, as in life, passion is everything. The rest is just details.”
A mother, baker, an avid traveler, she is humble to the core and claims to be just a hobbyist photographer. But her photographs beg to differ. Isn’t she such an inspiration?
And the best part is, with the kind of pictures she takes that make us want to reach into the computer screen, blogging does not interest her. I know!
Come, let’s have a heart to heart conversation with Aisha..
What was your moment of epiphany for photography?
After my daughter was born, I borrowed my husband’s camera to take pictures of her, to capture the moments. However, it didn’t quite work taking pictures of my kids since they couldn’t stay still and so I switched to food photography.
What do you enjoy most about photography?
The fact that I challenge myself and discover the creative side… that also helps crank up my rusty brain! Also, food photography is in essence still life photography, therefore I’m in complete control of all the elements and any success or failure in the final image is purely down to me.
Where do you draw inspiration from?
Everything around me, actually. What I see, what I feel, what I hear, what I remember… On the days when the light bulb in my head doesn’t work, flicking through cookbooks and other food photographers’ websites certainly gives me ideas and inspirations.
You make food photography look so easy. What according to you is the most challenging part of food photography and how do you overcome it?
Blimey, I do?! Well, I’m glad it seems that way! The most challenging part for me is to choose the right (amount of) props with subtle details to create a mood or give you an impression at first glance and at the same time not go overboard with it. The dictum that “less is more” is certainly something that I have to remind myself of on a regular basis!
What did it take to be a self-taught photographer of your caliber?
Apply thick skin lotion to develop a thick/thicker skin. And, take (constructive) criticism as a tool for growth and believe in myself.
With such gorgeous photography, how has blogging never interested you?
Ars longa, vita brevis! I just feel it’s too much hard work and takes up most of your time. And, moreover, there are already countless food bloggers out there, some of whom are superb and an inspiration; mine would be just another drop in the ocean.
When it comes to creativity in photography, how do you keep things fresh?
I try to think outside the box and get out of my comfort zone. Works most of the time. As I mentioned before, it is helpful to look at the work of other photographers even outside of food photography to gain new ideas and a fresh perspective.
What is typical process for one of your master photographs from start to finish?
I usually start with an idea in my head and then set up to match it. This only tends to work two-thirds of the time so there is always an element of improvisation. I then take pictures of my setup, and analyse the pictures in the camera. If needs be, I change the setting to improve the composition and/or lighting. Once I’m happy with the image, I then transfer it into Lightroom/Photoshop for post-processing. I mainly adjust the white balance and contrasts and, if needed, tweak the brightness and highlights. I finish it off by sharpening the image and re-sizing.
Three things to seriously improve one’s photography from good to great
2) Develop a thick skin and practice.
3) Accept criticism and practice some more.
What is your food styling philosophy?
Keep it simple and natural. Learn to trust your eyes.
What would you admire in a photograph well made?
Besides the props envy? The use of light.
A piece of advice for aspiring photographers.
Practice and experimentation is the best way to grow.
A couple of her favorite photographs >>
And a couple of my favorites >>
It was a challenge for me to select just a couple of pictures from her photostream. If you are interested in viewing more, feel free to browse her flickr photostream
And here’s a lighter rapid fire round:
Ingredient(s) you love to shoot
Anything that’s colourful and what I find photogenic.
Biryani. Nothing tastes as good as my mum’s!
Hmmm. I would say anything that’s tricky and less photogenic, eg. brown meat or even a curry.
My list is ever-growing and never-ending. Visit Cambodia is in Top 5.
David Loftus, if I have to pick just one.
I’m not sure. Probably taken up knitting or sewing, which I’m utterly rubbish at!
Tripod for my wobbly hands.
Lobsters. Since I’m allergic to those darn marine crustaceans.