By clicking on the kitchen
AFTER After 15 years working in human resources, Nigel Low left the structured life of an “employee” to pursue a career in photography.
Despite his secure niche in the corporate world, he longed for a fulfilling vocation that would allow him to spend personal time and present a creative outlet – something he found while wielding a camera.
“Photography was just a hobby back then. I was just taking a lot of pictures of landscapes, people and all kinds of things, ”said the HR graduate.
“Since I was already doing this, I thought it would be nice to venture into photography full time.”
His desire to escape convention ultimately led him to enter a local photography competition, MySelangorlicious, in which he won the “Best Photo” category.
“It was a good opportunity for me to learn. And winning the competition gave me more confidence to pursue photography.
What is the strong point of the work of a photographer?
I think it would probably be the ability to get big clients. As recently, I worked with Thermomix from the German branch. I helped them produce two cookbooks and one of them was called The Malay Kitchen. Since there weren’t many good books on the market, they wanted me to focus on traditional Malay cuisine.
So I worked very closely with a chef and it lasted about three months. And the book was actually entered into The Gourmand World Cookbook Awards. He won the cookbook category. So that was one of my highlights, because your work is recognized by people all over the world. And of course you get a lot of exposure from that.
Can you describe your creative process?
I take a lot of inspiration from Instagram, cookbooks, and celebrity photographers.
When I look at their works, I always try to deconstruct how they were shot, to understand how a work was composed so that it has the “wow factor”. So my creative process usually starts with visualization – sketching the scene on my tablet.
I am doing this because I would like to see what matches in terms of accessories, color and style. Then of course I would try to do that in the actual scene by putting all the things together. And as a perfectionist, every little detail matters just because I want the shot to be perfect.
What type of equipment do you use?
I carry over 60 items for a set and this is just the equipment itself. It does not include any accessories like wooden plates, bowls and boxes. Many often assume that food photography only requires one camera. But no, it’s the camera, studio lights, light stand, laptop, clips and tripods.
Therefore, I have learned to be very systematic and to maximize the space that I have. And when the customer sees me on the site, they are often surprised at how many things I have to bring. And again, this does not include any accessories. It’s a whole different show.
What is the common mistake of new photographers?
I think what I am seeing is that they are not very particular about the small details in their photos. For example, a little sauce that runs over a grape. It goes unnoticed. Or things like how the noodles look very sloppy or the meat just doesn’t look fresh and moist anymore.
Although these are small details, they have a big impact on making the photo more appetizing and appealing. So yeah, I’ve noticed that a lot of new photographers don’t take that into account and their photos just aren’t great.
What advice do you give them?
Nothing beats experience, nothing beats trial and error. You can read all the books in the world and refer to all the YouTube videos you can find, but without hands-on practice you won’t be able to do it. And also, criticizing the photos. Like me, I am the harshest critic of myself. I tend to criticize my photos because I think they are never the best.
So, I go over the photos again and again and try to find what is wrong with the photo. This is how you can improve and inspire yourself, getting information from everywhere. And so, I always tell people to start with an end in mind. Always ask yourself what kind of photos you would like to take. And it comes back to my idea of deconstructing the whole photo and reconstructing it.
What are your plans for the future?
I would like to see my team and I am taking a bigger portfolio. In fact, we are currently working with one now. This is a collaboration with a local private university where we are working on publishing a book for their culinary school program. Yes, (I like) working with bigger clients with bigger budgets. Because only then can we create more elaborate photos with greater impact.