Today I’d like you to meet an incredibly talented food blogger, cook and photographer behind Lingering Aftertaste, Ambica Selvam. Her blog is not only gorgeous to look at but incredibly delicious recipes that are high in flavor and easily approachable. Her food styling is simple, rustic and enhanced beautifully through her dreamy pictures.
Have you had any formal training in Cooking or Food photography?
Your photographs depict your passion for food and food styling. How important is food presentation?
What are your other passions apart from cooking, blogging and photography?
What is your advice for someone who wants to start a food blog? And any photography tips for fellow bloggers?
Any future plans? Can we expect a cookbook?
Images via Ambica Selvam
Please scroll down to read the interview.
Ambica: Thank you for this opportunity to share a little about me through your wonderful blog. I am very humbled that you’ve asked me to do this.
Tell us something about yourself. And what inspired you to start your food blog? And why the name Lingering Aftertaste?
Ambica: Hi Dearest Readers! I am Ambica Selvam and I am a passionate lover of food! I live in the wonderful city of ‘Bengaluru’, India. Having grown up in various different cities, right from my childhood, has shaped up my present. The experience of savoring different cultures has had a great influence on my way of thinking, my way of life and food, of course!
I have always loved to eat but my real affair with food started late in life. However, when it did, it changed my life forever. I realized how passionate I was about food and cooking...I surprised myself!
I cook with all my heart and love to share what I cook as much as I love to eat it myself (I love to host, particularly, friends with a good appetite)
The culinary journey that I am on is more like a road to self-discovery. It is through food that I discovered my love for food styling and the ever growing penchant for food photography. I’ve always had a creative urge for doing things differently and that has always been the driving factor.
www.lingeringaftertaste.com – My food blog is my way of documenting my culinary pursuits - an outlet for me to share my food, my passion with everyone. I love sharing moments from my life through food. My blog is also my tribute to my mother who I lost last year. I grew up watching her cook… with love. She had always wanted to me write about what I cook. I regret having started when she is not around anymore. I regret not having cooked with her enough. (I do feel she will be keeping up with my blog from somewhere up above though).
The word aftertaste always fascinated me. I think there is something very profound about that word. I believe that food experience is not just about the moment you eat but also about the moments after you have eaten. Good food should speak to all your senses, and when that happens the taste lingers on; not just in your mouth, but in your heart too. And hence the name, Lingering Aftertaste.
Ambica: No, I do not have any formal training in Cooking or Food Photography. I just follow my heart whether it is cooking or photographing food. Creativity plays a big part in driving my passion for both. I constantly experiment in both these aspects. If it feels right from within, and if I have faith in what I create – I go ahead.
I am an explorer of food and believe in loving what I eat; I love to experiment with the tastes I discover. I believe food must rouse all five senses. That is when it is truly complete. I am pretty much always on the pursuit to achieve this. That drives my cooking.
As for food photography – I don’t really consider myself as a ‘Photographer’…I mean not in that sense. What I mean is that I use my camera to create my vision. Something like an artist, with a concept. Photography to me is my way of using subjects to express my concept, my feelings…visual storytelling. That said, to be an artist, one does need to work on one’s craft. I am not a very technical photographer. I use a Canon 1200D (18mm-55mm and 55mm-250mm lens). I am learning the technical aspects of my camera and will always try to upskill myself…my craft! There is a lot of talent and learning out there, one just needs to be open to learn. So I source inspiration and learnings from all around me. I always try to imbibe that learning and there, that is my training! I know I have a long way to go.
Ambica: A lot, to put it simply! I’m someone who believes we “eat with our eyes first and then the mouth”. For someone who is looking at my food photographs, my attempt is that they should get a sense of the taste, the texture besides being able to relate to my food story. Styling and composition is something I give lot of importance to and I’m constantly learning that as I go along.
For me, presentation is essential to be able to express your vision. It is all about my way of telling my story. While trying to do that, I intend to natural and not make it look like I am trying too hard or make it look contrived. Basically, keep it simple and real.
That is what I believe my food style is – simple, minimalistic. I don’t do elaborate food styling; what turns me on are the simple things. I believe every subject is beautiful in its own way, even the most mundane or flawed subjects. I try to use elements (props, light, and styling) in a way that brings out that beauty I see in those subjects, while I try tell my story. I try to ensure that they add to the story and not clutter it or take away from my subject.
I love when my readers and people who see my photos, connect with that story. I am thrilled when they see something completely different. I love listening to different perspectives, I learn in that process.
My style of photography is an extension of my food style, my presentation – earthy, rustic, moody… almost intimate. I love (pretty much always) to shoot with natural light. (This is also another way so saying I’m not really skillful to use studio/ artificial lights). I experiment with blocking light, indoor, and outdoor. It is not easy to tame natural light, but trying to do that… is definitely fun!
Ambica: I love so many things, but I am not sure if I am as passionate about all of them… as much as I am about food. I love music; I always have it on when I’m doing something…esp, when I am driving. Music in my car is as important as seat belt! And Cooking with music is fun! Movies and certain TV shows help me escape. In fact, they’ve had a strong influence on me to help me pursue my passion for food. I have to mention Julie & Julia and Masterchef Australia and a host of Food Shows. I love making pop-art collages… that is another passion I nurture. I pick a theme, work around that. I love to personalize it, frame them and gifting it to my friends or just put it on my wall at home. Driving is something I always look forward to (Hate struggling for a parking spot though). It is such a simple activity yet so liberating. I love it so much that I’ve almost made my peace with the maddening traffic in my city. I may whine but will not stop driving! Travelling is fun, discovering new places is rewarding. Haven’t done enough but there are plenty of places on my wish list. Hopefully, soon. And finally, Books – I enjoy reading a physical book. Just that I wish I could read more.
Ambica: I’m really humbled by this question, actually. I really don’t think I am experienced enough to guide someone new, however I’ve share my two cents based on my journey so far.
Before starting a food blog – ask yourself if you are truly committed towards that! Please don’t start one because people want you to, but do it when you really want it and more importantly, only when you think you are wholeheartedly, 100% committed to do that.
Here is confession - LingeringAftertaste was actually born way in 2011. Embarrassingly, I couldn’t go beyond my first post (which was basically an “About me/blog” post – not even a recipe). Clearly, I was not ready back then – in terms of time and commitment. Or probably, I hadn’t realized the depth of passion then. I re-launched my blog not because I wanted to redeem myself, but I was truly ready , committed and was absolutely aware of my passion. And once the blog is started, it sort of becomes like a habit. But habit can die down if one doesn’t keep at it. Always remember ‘why’ you started a blog; keep the fire burning, get into a routine (anything, whatever works for you)….but keep doing it, passionately!
Another point of introspection should be “why do you want to start a food blog” – The reason! Do you want your blog to be a journal of your life around food, a platform to record/share your stories with the world or do you want to reach out to as many people as you can through your blog, to teach them or do you want you want to be famous! Your approach to your blog will be according to what your reason(s) is. I brought this up is because we live in the world of instant gratification and constant need for appreciation. That can totally drive one over the edge! Please don’t get discouraged if people don’t talk about your blog, or “like” your blog on social media immediately or “leave comments” on your posts. Actually, there is nothing wrong if that feeling kicks in, it is just that you need to rethink your reasons and approach your blog differently.
For Photography – Learn & Practice! Seek inspiration, find what appeals to your eyes, your heart. You don’t have to experiment, if you don’t wish to…But do discover your style and make it your own! What I mean is get really good at what you like doing. You can strive to be a photographer or an artist or both…but whatever you create, try that it evokes some response from people who see it. Put your work up for critique, listen to different feedback and work on ones you believe will help enhance Your style, Your craft - that is one of the greatest ways to learn. Remember, for good photographs you don’t need a fancy high-end camera. You can create magic with your phone camera too (Honest!). So think before you invest! Buy a decent basic camera and lens (initially, based on a simple thing – how close or how far do you want to be from the food/subject). Once you spend enough time honing your skills, you will know what you want.
Yes! Photography gears are expensive – so again, please don’t invest in anything fancy until you are absolutely sure that you need one. The best initial investment will be a good tripod. Everything else can come later.
And lastly, understand and play around with the light (natural or artificial – whatever is your need/calling). You will be surprised with what you find…while you do that.
Ambica: Until a few months ago, I was juggling between my wonderful corporate 9-5 job and my madness for food. The fire in my belly was so fierce that I had to choose. I finally gave my job up to follow my passion. I have barely stepped into my present, so my future plans seems a little farfetched at this time. I am still on the road to figure out what I really want to do in the food space. At the moment, I am super thrilled that I am doing an array of interestingly different things in this space – Recipe development for clients (and for my blog of course), Professional Food styling and Food Photography, Food Write-ups etc.
Can you expect a cookbook – possibly yes, eventually! It will stem from my blog, so it will be an extension it. I don’t intend for it to be a regular cookbook that focuses on recipes. I would want that to be like a memoir of my life through food.
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Images via Ambica Selvam