Young Star

Future Perfect: Food shots for thought

- Nante Santamaria - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - If you dig really deep on the Internet, you’ll find a photo of Mylene Chung in a purple wig. She has been such a closet anime geek that she actually cosplayed with Alodia Gosiengfiao back in the day, but today, when Chung isn’t flipping through manga pages, she’s clicking the camera to make the most Instagram-worthy food shots, and they’re likely to have made you gobble up something — like Cupcakes By Sonja, King Sue ham, and Kenji Tei ramen. Today, she has also become a food photography teacher in 50 Feasts, and recently, she founded Pepper.ph, the food blog for “artists, misfits, and creatives.”

Mylene Chung started out with fashion photography, but quickly realized that food photography is where her real passion lies.

What’s the general mindset toward food photography nowadays?

It is a growing trend. People love shooting what they eat, and since the Internet is teeming with photography inspirations, a lot of our new clients have a more thorough understanding of food photography as an art.

How did you arrive at The Mylene Chung Look?

I love shooting wooden and organic elements with a lot of neutral tones. My wood fetish started when I drooled over layouts from international magazines like Martha Stewart, Donna Hay, and Australian Gourmet. I started gathering old wooden surfaces from everywhere — dump sites, junkyards, my friends’ garages. They give the photos different kinds of mood.

I don’t think there’s a local food blog as humorous and as gorgeously photographed as Pepper.ph. What’s the goal for this project?

We want it to be a local food source for young, daring and creative people. There isn’t any that’s catering to people in their twenties and doing fun, stupid stuff with food. We’d like to use our skills in food presentation to make more people smile. It is where I can go wild with props I’ve never used and techniques I’ve never tried.

You started with fashion, so food is kind of left field. Why did you choose it?

For one, I suck at directing models. I had shoots where, after reviewing the pictures on my computer, I’d belatedly realize that the models had the same poses and expressions in every layout — not a good sign.

Food blog Pepper.ph boasts of amazing photos that will surely make you start jonesing for a meal.

Don’t you feel like you’re mentoring your future business competitors in your 50 Feasts photography workshops?

I teach because it’s the most fulfilling thing in the world. I just love seeing people enjoy food photography as much as I do. Creative work like photography isn’t exactly a commodity like soap, so there isn’t really any strict and hard competition.

What should young photographers know about this business?

Since the competition is a lot fiercer now that almost everyone has a DSLR camera, young photographers need to find a way to stand out. The best way to do that is to find your niche.

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