What inspires you for each individual scene?
In the beginning it was just about what I had in my fridge. I’d sometimes go to the shops and stand in the aisles staring at the fruit and veggies for hours and ideas would just pop out at me. Who’d have thought string beans could be quite so inspiring?
What is the process for setting up these gorgeous shots?
I set up the photo, take the photo, edit it, do my make-up – it’s all me. If I need an assistant, for those pics where food is being thrown at me in the shot, either my housekeeper helps out or I call a friend to come over. The entire process is pretty exhausting and a lot of thought and effort goes into it. It takes anywhere between 45 minutes and three hours to get it just right. The milk image was one of the toughest ones to set up. Go check it out on my Instagram account (hint, hint, nudge, nudge!), The tripod was set up and my friend had to throw milk powder at me while I looked into the camera (trying not to pull a weird face) and had to fire the shot myself. I couldn’t touch my camera because I was covered in food so I had to just snap away and hope something came out relatively okay.
What would be your advice for people who are tempted to also start something ‘a little out there’?
Just do it! The crazier the better. In the beginning I was so worried about what people would think of me… but you have to learn to ignore what others say and think. I always encourage people to do things they find challenging – even if they mess up the first couple of times. Even when I struggle, I own those moments and pictures too. Also, don’t be afraid to always ask for help and advice.
What’s your biggest milestone?
Definitely when Gordon Ramsay followed me on Instagram before I even had 500 followers. In my photos I always tag celebrities and people I look up to for extra exposure. I tagged Gordon Ramsay and he liked a couple of my pics and next thing, he started following me. I’d like to eventually be known as an abstract photographer and I try hard to do more and more work that fits into that category. However, at the moment I’m a full-time lifestyle and corporate photographer and these food selfies are just a hobby that keeps me entertained and inspired.
Do you ever collaborate with other people / brands / companies?
I won’t do food selfies for other people because this is my personal brand that I’m trying to build and would like to keep as unique as possible. I’m happy to collaborate with other artists and brands though. In fact, I’ve been asked to do a rainbow vermicelli sprinkle shoot. Its going to take 100kg of sprinkles in my bath! I’ve also had quite a lot of interest from restaurants in the past. I did a shoot with RocoMamas for its milkshakes and with Salsa Mexican Grill for its tequilas. That was super fun of course! It’s tequila after all!
Which image are you most proud of?
I’m really proud of the whisky one because I can’t believe how well it worked out! I’m also really chuffed that I managed to pull off the tomato shoot – it took me ages to get right. The second milkshake shot I did for RocoMamas was also very cool, I had to do it in my panties in the restaurant before it opened in the morning. Now you really have to
What did you do before this?
I’ve changed careers loads of times. I was a chef in London from 2008 to 2010 for the Lawn Tennis Association. I met Andy Roddick and James Blake. I mean, how cool is that? The recession then hit London badly, people started losing their jobs, it was hectic. I then also realised it wasn’t the career for me, so I decided to come back home and stayed with my parents in Plett. After thinking long and hard, I decided to take on the task of encouraging more tourism in the area. So I took tons of photos of the beautiful scenery which, let’s not lie, is breathtaking. People then started enquiring about the images and Bob’s your uncle, I was booking shoots! It wasn’t easy – it took four years of losing everything I had to build me up to where I am today. Finding the courage to do things I really love was not as simple as one might think.
How do you reckon this all started? My mom gave me my first camera when I was 10 years old. Back then it was just a hobby – I’ve never studied photography. Somehow, I’ve always had an eye for it. Now it’s my full-time career. In terms of the food selfies, I saw a stock image of a girl with a pineapple on her head and I just loved it. I mean, what fun! That’s what really started all this. Then I went to my fridge and raided it. Oh, and I just love Cristina Otero, a Spanish photographer and artist, who inspired some of my earlier work. Her self-portraits are so fab, and she started at 15!
Besides this, what other hobbies do you have?
I’m obsessed with nature! I buy baobab tree seeds online – these trees are endangered – then I plant them and grow them in my garden. When they’re big enough I transplant them in Limpopo, to thrive and keep them alive. I plant everything indigenous in my nursery at home. I have more than 40 trees already. Once they’re strong enough I’m planning to transplant them, as well as fruit trees, in public parks in and around Jozi.
Any other info you think we may love to hear?
I’m a vegetarian so I won’t shoot meat products. I make sure I keep my wastage to a minimum and that all extra food is consumed. I encourage my fans to send me any ideas of what they’d like to see. I then put all the ideas in a bag and roll with the dice of fate and destiny. To check out all Christy’s fave pics, and a whole lot more.
Follow. Her. Now! Details: Instagram @christystreverphotography