This month's special guest is Julia Abramyan! She's originally from Russia but now is living in Los Angeles! She is a talented food photographer, stylist and baker and has her own company called Sweet Tooth Buffet. Her food is absolutely breathtaking and mouthwatering - unbelievable talent is what she has! You have to check her out via instagram, especially if you live in the LA area! Check out my interview with her below :)
Ashley: What made you start this business venture and how long ago did it begin?
Julia: I actually started off as a self-taught baker when I was around 12. I learned how to bake before I knew how to cook, but it wasn’t like an advanced level. In my twenties, I stopped baking completely, I was too busy getting my degree, then traveling, and so on. I also started a healthy style of eating, so baking was counterproductive! However, I always had the idea in the back of my mind that one day I would restart my passion for baking and take classes. About 3 years ago that time had come - I enrolled for advanced baking courses, fell in love with it, and continued taking courses after that. It required a lot of studying, online classes, and workshops.
Ashley: Which love of yours came first - baking or photography?
Julia: Besides my baking skills, my classmates would always point out the quality of my photography and my vision for composition, especially after I created my Instagram and started posting my work. This is when I started transitioning from just a baker to a food photographer as well. About 2 years ago I took the camera in my hands for the first time and started scrolling through every video on YouTube I could find about food photography. Quicky, I realized that it’s almost impossible to be a self-taught photographer, so I made the decision to start taking online photography courses. Before I realized, I had 4 different food photography certificates from 4 different schools.
Ashley: Between the two, which takes up most of your time now?
Julia: Baking used to take up all of my time in the past couple of years, so much that I literally didn’t have time for anything else with the number of orders I was getting. It got to the point where I felt that this insane schedule was killing my creativity and my personal style, and in turn I felt drained. I think in today’s age, a baking business comes down to blogging and social media. It’s like a cake: you can cut it into several pieces. Like baking you design the desert, prep it for the camera, take a picture of it, post-edit it, and finally make a post on Instagram. Eventually, I realized that the styling and taking the picture part was what I enjoyed most! So, I decided to stop taking orders and only concentrate on the art.
At the moment, I’m only focusing on photography projects. Yes, food photography is a job despite what a lot of people think. It can actually be a career if you put the time and dedication to perfecting the art. It’s not just taking pictures for Instagram, it’s also helping other businesses build their social media, creating menus, advertising posters for restaurants, and shooting for micro stocks. There are also opportunities in the film industry for prop photography.
Ashley: Your baking aesthetic is goals, especially how you photograph each dish - I am obsessed with how creative you are! Where do you get your inspiration from?
Julia: Ahh, thank you Ashley, you are so kind!! You will be surprised how obvious my answer is. The work of other photographers is an inspiration for me. By the way, I spent a lot of time looking at other people’s work trying to analyze why I like this particular shot, what kind of props they used for the shot, what is the source of lighting, where it’s coming from, and why the composition is the way it is, etc... All of these things eventually build your own taste in photography and helps create beautiful shots of your own, not just intuitively, but thoughtfully designed. Household pieces inspire me too - if you were at my place you would notice it :) My home literally looks like a Home Goods store, I have tons of props! When I see a plate, or set of plates at the store that I like, right away I picture the scene in my head and that dish in it!
Ashley: What would be one piece of advice you’d give to a striving food photographer?
Julia: I would say never stop learning, and even better take classes. Photography is hard, especially food photography, as it’s not just knowing how to work with the camera , lights and equipment, but most importantly working with props to create beautiful images - also working with photo editing programs is a main component, which I found the most challenging myself.
Ashley: Throughout your experience what’s been the most successful way to find clients that need food stylists / a photographer like yourself? In simpler terms - what’s the best form of networking for you?
Julia: Of course, Instagram. It’s essential these days for any business. It doesn’t matter if it’s a food-stylist, baker, hair-stylist, pottery designer, etc. Instagram is the best way to market yourself, show your product, and attract clients. This is how I have gotten the majority of my clients. With the beauty of social media, especially Instagram, you can work with anyone from anywhere in the world. For example, right now I’m working on a project for a European online cooking school - there are no boundaries where you can get clients from!
Ashley: Have you ever struggled throughout this journey of running your own business? If so, what would you tell those who think about giving up?
Julia: Of course I've struggled! As a matter of fact, I think it’s an inevitable part of the process. Everyone has their ups and downs, and no matter what you do you eventually burn out from the work routine. It’s a normal part of life, and maybe it’s just time for a vacation! But on the other hand, there is a very common opinion in modern society that no matter what you should never stop believing in yourself. I actually don’t think so - If you’ve been trying to do something for too long and it’s not happening, then maybe it’s just not your thing. Sometimes it requires a little bit more than believing in yourself and consistency. And maybe you are meant to do something else, but you just don’t know it yet. I’ll tell you a secret, this is why I shifted from baking to food photography - baking was a stepping stone to bigger and better things... but back then I didn’t know it!
Thank you so much Julia for taking the time to answer these questions :) You truly are a special artist and person on top of it all - the sweetest soul! Your dedication to your craft and honesty behind your whole process is so inspiring.
Make sure to check her out!
Do you know a self-starting artist who has a unique talent that should be shared?
I would love to hear about it, message or email me with more information :)
thanks for stopping by!