You don’t get anywhere in this life working alone. Pastry chefs in particular need a good team around them which, now more than ever, includes photographers, food stylists and even marketing gurus.
Unless you’re a one-person operation you are not working as an island. Chances are, a supporting team of people surrounds you. Some will jump when you say jump, others will question your goals – both are necessary.
You’ve heard me go on about my amazing team of pastry chefs and what each of them brings to the table. This issue, I’m going to give insight into the life and careers of two awe-inspiring women outside my own kitchen: photography darling Nikki To and high school teacher and home baker-turned-super-successful-blogger Katherine Sabbath.
NIKKI TO, PHOTOGRAPHER
What inspires you?
I get my inspiration from a whole bunch of different places. I am always inspired by the many photographers I have worked with and learnt from in the past. For ideas, I am always stimulated by what is going on around me, whether it be the news, the people I hang around, the images I see in magazines and on social media – ideas and emotions from these sorts of things translate into inspiration for me. I also get very inspired when I take time off, travel and disconnect from the everyday hustle and bustle. It’s very important to me to take a break regularly in order to re-energise my mind and creative perspective on my work.
What challenges are involved in food photography?
For me, food photography relies on good light and good food! Sometimes with certain desserts, they cannot sit for very long, which means you need to shoot fast or have a few dishes ready and waiting as back ups.
Food needs to taste good, but a big part of marketing these days is how it looks on websites and social media. How do you capture the ‘heart and soul’ of a dish and make viewers want to see/taste more?
I feel like there is a trend in photography at the moment that embraces a more casual feel to the way food is shot, rather than setting it up to look staged. I think this helps people connect with what they see. In a way, imperfect shots of food we see in social media are becoming increasingly popular, for example, shots of hands tucking into a table set up of food. This ‘in the moment’ way of capturing food allows people to feel more involved with what they are seeing, like there is a story behind the food.
I love this picture to the right because it sums up how energetic Katherine and I are! Tell me a bit about the thought process behind this photo.
This shoot was a lot of fun. All three of us decided to get together and shoot something that celebrated us as women, our craft and I suppose what is now a friendship between all of us! Pink isn’t usually my colour, but Anna suggested it and I decided to go out of my comfort zone and shoot something bold and colourful. The colours are strong and vibrant but the feeling is fun and I felt like this ultimately summed up the work and personalities of everyone.
KATHERINE SABBATH, BLOGGER
You’re a blogger, a prolific baker and a full-time high school teacher… how do you fit it all in?
It’s definitely been quite a struggle fitting in all my passions into a 24-hour day and still ensuring I get eight hours sleep, but at this point in my life, I actually can’t imagine doing anything else with my time! I like structure and organising my day before it begins, so I’m sure this has helped prioritise my time. Writing to-do lists and friendly reminders to myself on post-it notes also come in very handy!
Where do you get your inspiration from?
Absolutely everywhere! A favourite source of inspiration close to my heart is the 1971 film Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, originally written by Roald Dahl and directed by Mel Stuart.
No doubt your baked goods taste amazing, but they look like pieces of art! Why is the visual appeal of your work so important?
Oh thank you! I think by nature we’re highly visual creatures, so if something looks inviting and, even better, fantastical then it elevates the whole experience! I like desserts that double as little works of art as well, because I think if you’re going to eat something in moderation, it may as well look special and memorable!
What challenges are involved with entering the professional baking sector as a home cook/blogger? What’s the process to monetising your hobby?
Through my own experience, I find it has been challenging to put a monetary figure on my creative process and products, while at the same time ensuring I never underestimate the value of my work. With reference to the creative industry in particular, this can be the most difficult area to negotiate because creative services can be quite subjective and many other people are willing to do the same work at a very low price (and quite often, at very low quality as well), or even for free at the promise of ‘exposure’ to a wider audience. Exposure to a greater market is of course a wonderful thing, but at the end of the day, baking materials and long hours spent on any given project costs money! Don’t ever be afraid to ask, “is there a budget?”