For the Love of Food with Geraldine Chew (Part I)

Introducing For the Love of Food, our new blog series where we go behind the scenes with the people who work to create all things food.

If you've been following us on Instagram, you've probably come across the beautifully-styled photographs of our dishes at The Replacement Lodge & Kitchen and Faculty of Caffeine. We collaborated with aspiring food stylist and local Johor Bahru girl, Geraldine Chew and picked her brains for juicy tricks of the trade and a glimpse into what goes on behind the camera.
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 Unagi Bowl from The Replacement

Unagi Bowl from The Replacement

Q: Tell us about yourself.

G: I’ve loved food since I was a kid and growing up, I knew I wanted to have a food-related job so I took up an F&B Business Diploma right after high school. I then furthered my studies into a Marketing Degree as I wanted to marry both my interest and now I’m marketing for an F&B group by profession.

Besides that, I’m a 24/7 foodie who loves to cook & bake during my free time, and I always enjoy a conversation about food - over food (& drinks) of course! 

 Tomato Soup with Cheese Toast from The Replacement

Tomato Soup with Cheese Toast from The Replacement

This dish is a classic and a personal favourite - which was why I chose to style it. I love a hearty bowl of soup, especially on rainy days! Or any day really haha. #comfortfood
 
 Churros from The Replacement

Churros from The Replacement

 
 Avocado & Baked Beans from Faculty of Caffeine

Avocado & Baked Beans from Faculty of Caffeine

 
I’m a 24/7 foodie who loves to cook & bake during my free time, and I always enjoy a conversation about food - over food (& drinks) of course! 
 Close-Up of the Unagi Bowl from The Replacement

Close-Up of the Unagi Bowl from The Replacement

Q: When did you first discover your passion for food styling & photography?

G: I’ve always liked taking photos of food each time I visited a cafe or restaurant. And when I’m not out and making my own food at home, I do the same before actually eating the food. Slowly, I started looking for pretty plates and utensils to go with the food made at home so I could get a better-styled photo.

At the same time, I gained interest in collecting ceramic wares as I felt the tablewares used in a photo had more than its utilitarian purpose of just holding the food; it spoke out as much as the food did. I was also following quite a few food writers & stylist on Instagram then and felt a strong desire for the styled photos I saw. I was very inspired to do the same.

 
 Mdm Lim's Brownies from Faculty of Caffeine

Mdm Lim's Brownies from Faculty of Caffeine

Q: What actually goes on in your mind when you style a shoot? How do you determine where to place a particular ingredient or what angle to take it from etc.?

G: It all depends on the direction of the shoot, what kind of food I’m shooting with and the mood/feel I would like to inject into the photo. From there I try to play with the ingredients that goes into the particular dish that I style.

Most of the time I have a rough image in my head of how I would like the shot to be like, so from there I would place the props/ingredients accordingly; the final outcome is very much dependent on the feel that I get. It’s quite hard to describe which particular position to place the product but you’ll just know it when it’s right. So these items will be moved around through the shoot till I get the “right feel” of the image and that will be it. 

As for the angle, I usually like taking flatlays so the shot will be taken from the top, but there are also intricate food/ingredients that look better close up, which I would do a macro effect on to the dish. Otherwise, the “feel” comes into play again - a lot has to do with intuition haha.

 
 Marinara from Faculty of Caffeine

Marinara from Faculty of Caffeine

A lot goes behind the scenes of capturing that one perfect shot. Likewise for this pasta, it definitely took more than just a fork.
 
 Geraldine Chew,  Aspiring Food Stylist

Geraldine Chew, Aspiring Food Stylist

Stay tuned for Part II as she takes on our two other brands. Be sure to check out her feed @geraldinechm for even more goodness and follow The Merk Group for the best foodie content in town!