Tag Archives: Interviews

Fine Food Photography

Interview with Food Photographer: Mei Teh from Cumi & Ciki

Fine Food Photography

Fine Food Photography by Ciki (aka Mei Teh)

Premier food blog Cumi dan Ciki is a sensory delight. Though focused on Malaysian cuisine, it rises above other food blogs by adding in a dash of humor, a sprig of travel news, a sprinkle of movie reviews and scoops of great food photography.

Run by Mei Teh and her husband Joe, we take a look at the sites main ingredient – great food photography and how it’s all done …

Meh Teh

Meh Teh from Cumidanciki.com

FotoArk: How did your website start? Was it just a personal blog, or have you always been photographing and, writing about food?

Our blog started out a couple of years back as a means to journal our travels and related photos. However, because we enjoy eating so much (as do other Malaysians!) this blog soon took on the form of a food blog…

[learn_more caption=”Click here to learn more about where the name of Cumi & Ciki comes from …”]There is Cumi-Ciki but who is ‘Dan’? For non-Malaysian or Indonesian readers (our languages are similar but have vast differences too), ‘Dan’ is not an imaginary person but the English word ‘And’. It’s not spelt backwards but that’s how it ‘s translated in Malay language. Since we used it in our original Blogger site, we kept it the same here. Cumi & Ciki is a Malaysian food and travel blog, which also tells of our worldly adventures! The name is derived from a popular educational television puppet show for Malaysian children in the 70s and 80s. This is the tale of the two traveling, eating, thrill-seeking monkeys from Kuala Lumpur, the capital city of Peninsular Malaysia. Ultimately food and culture go hand in hand and we strive hard to convey this via our blog on a daily basis.[/learn_more]

FotoArk: Tell us how you set up a photo shoot? Do you talk to the restaurant before and make a private appointment. Or do you just show up and start ordering?

Well sometimes we just walk in, sometimes we get emails or a phone call, requesting we pay the restaurant a visit. How and what we write is entirely up to us. We receive no monetary compensation for the review nor are we obligated to write a positive review if the food turns out, not entirely up to expectations.

FotoArk: Have you ever had a problem with a restaurant owner not letting you shoot there, and how did you deal with this?

Gyuniku Tataki – seared beef with ponzu

Gyuniku Tataki – seared beef with ponzu

No, not really. If they say, no shooting, we respect their wishes. These days, restaurants actually welcome food bloggers. Free publicity is great anyway, don’t you agree? (we do!)

FotoArk: Many food photographers photograph food on a plate when its cold. Using things like soap bubbles on bacon etc to make the food a lot more appetizing. Do you do the same, or do you shoot the food live as it is?

Never. We shoot it as it is. Otherwise it defeats the purpose of blogging and keeping it real. Ours is a blog, not a food magazine.. no air-brushing required nor allowed;)

FotoArk: All of your food photographs are well lit, and the lighting beautiful. But restaurants are often low in light. Can you tell us if you use any special lighting to capture your work?

Invest in a good lens and a good flash. It’s not rocket science… just straight up photography. Take a clear, crisp shot and you are home free. No point having fancy props or a huge-ass camera if you cannot just nail one clear shot, right? I used to take shots on a point and shoot and now, a better camera. One thing remains the same. The clearest shot is the shot that you will end up using on your blog and that will make people hungry for more!

FotoArk: What’s the biggest challenge in photographing, and writing about food, and how have you overcome it?

Everybody has off days. Sometimes even the most eloquent of us run out of words. I read somewhere, that if writing is your passion

Poached Lobster

Poached Lobster

and you want to be writing till a ripe old age, you need to read. Don’t ever stop reading. Read anything and everything you can get your hands on (not necessarily just about food). Read in the loo, on the bus, in the subway.. read! No input.. no output. Again, not rocket science;)

In photography, my biggest challenge is picking the best shot. Sometimes my head says the clearest shot is the best, but my heart says, the less clear shot but the one with a great composition, that makes me feel something, is the shot to pick. This is always a challenge for me. Maybe I should stop taking so many angles of a single shot, huh? LOL
FotoArk: You’ve become quite the internet and Malaysian celebrity due to your blog and work there. Would you ever consider moving into this full time?
Nope. I love my day job too much;)
FotoArk:What advice would you give to someone just starting out who has a passion for food photography? Equipment, how to go about it etc.
Mitosis. Start small and progress to greater things. That is the logical progression of the universe as we know it.

FotoArk: A pro camera is better than an entry level camera in the hands of an intermediate. Would you agree, or not?

I disagree. I am living proof 😛

FotoArk: What would you answer if a client asked you this: “What makes you different from any other photographer?” (eg, why should we hire you)

If you like what you see on my blog, by all means let’s have coffee and a chat!

Many thanks to Mei for joining us & letting us in on her great world of food photography!

Interested in hiring Mei for a restaurant review or photo shoot? Here’s some more information:

[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’]https://www.fotoark.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/11/Meh-Teh.jpg[/author_image] [author_info]

  • Do you currently sell your photographs: No
  • Do you currently offer stock photography: No
  • Would you be willing to sell your photographs to an agency? Yes
  • Would you accept a contract for photoshoot: Yes
  • Where are you available to photograph? Malaysia
  • How can someone contact you for work? cumidanciki at gmail.com or twitter @agentcikay
  • Where can we see a gallery of your work? Top posts from Cumi & Ciki

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All photographs in this article are sourced with permission and the copyright of www.cumidanciki.com

Corporate photography stadium

Interview: Corporate Photographer Jurgen Banda-Hansmann

Corporate photography stadium

Corporate photography by Jurgen Banda-Hansmann

South Africa is knows as a beautiful tourist destination, but beyond landscapes and wildlife is a thriving land of business opportunities. South African photographer Jurgen Banda-Hansmann has taken up the mantle and is providing some of South Africa’s corporations with stunning images.

What’s more is that Jurgen’s photography business Jurgen’s Photography is expanding and taking him around the world. Let’s find out more from the photographer himself

Jurgen Banda-Hansmann

Jurgen Banda-Hansmann

FotoArk: How long have you been a photographer, and what got you started?

I started my business  about 3.5 years ago. I was working in the call center industry as resource planner and analyst. My then my boss resigned. After a long thought process, I decided not to apply for her position. As I achieved everything in the company I could

have, I decided to resign and start my business. Working as photographer was always my dream. It was the right time to do the jump.

FotoArk: You specialize in 3 genre’s, corporate, editorial, and travel. Can you explain the key differences you as a photographer experience in each one?

All photographic genres tell stories. It is what you focus, which makes the difference. Corporate photography tells the story of individual companies. Corporate assignments can vary from on location portrait sessions to photographing all aspects of a company, including headshots, production process, architecture, staff members at work, etc. I love those opportunities of telling stories, especially when my clients have a clear idea of what they expect from the shoot.

Travel and editorial photography are newer additions to my work. Travel photography allows me to tell the story of a location as I experience it, very personally. Often these are assignments, either from overseas or locally that a focus on Cape Town or South Africa. Interesting in between assignments are the photography of incentive events from overseas corporates.
Editorial photography assignments cover stories about specific themes and can range from portraits to photographing landscapes, cityscapes, interviews etc.

FotoArk: What’s the most challenging aspect of corporate photography today, and how have you overcome it?

Finding new clients was a major challenge. I joined a business networking organization (BNI). Since I joined, I learned a lot about networking and presenting myself. A good portion of my work is a direct or indirect result of networking offline and online. Twitter has been one of the most versatile online tools for new contacts and assignments.

Cape Town Panorama

Cape Town Panorama

FotoArk: Tell us what’s been the most rewarding thing to happen to you through your work?

Most rewarding is the experience of meeting people and learning about them. Earlier this year, I shot a story for a German magazine about people living with disability in Cape Town. The people, I met had incredible stories to tell.
FotoArk: You are currently based in South Africa, does the economy play a huge factor in corporate photography there?
Economy and corporate photography go hand in hand. When the economy growth is slow, I can see that in the number of assignments or size of assignments I receive.

FotoArk: What are the two most important pieces of camera equipment you use in corporate photography, and why?

I don’t want to sound smart, but it is my brain. Even with the best planning, you find yourself sometimes in situations, where you have to think on our feet. Flashlights and my tripod are the most important tools beside camera and lens.

FotoArk: How do you gain new clients in this competitive business? Do proactively advertise, or do you literally knock on doors?

I find a good portion of my clients via business networking (on and offline). Business networking is about creating relationships with other individuals and companies. The focus is on helping each other and not hard selling.

My website in connection with my blog, Twitter and Google ads also brings in some good leads. I spend a good amount of energy on

Corporate team photography

Corporate team photography

SEO (search engine optimization) for my website. Proactive inbound marketing describes best on how I find clients.

FotoArk: What advice would you give to someone just starting out who has a passion for corporate photography? Equipment, how to go about it etc.

First of all, you have to be passionate about it and have the patience and resources to go through the tough times. You need to know your photographic techniques inside out. You need to know your lighting and composition. Good camera gear is essential and I believe in keeping things simple. I work mostly with three lenses: 17-55/2.8, 70-200/2.8, 50/1.4
FotoArk: Is there a stigma that a corporate photographer needs a high-end DSLR and equipment to get work? Either way, what’s your take on this?

Good gear is important as a tool, but you don’t need the latest and best camera to get work. Your results count. The gear must be professional and reliable. I work with APS sized sensor DSLRs from Nikon (D90, D200). Bigger sensor cameras are in most cases not required in my field. If I need a full size sensor camera, I rent it.
If there is an equipment I really want to work with for most of my assignments, it is a Leica M9 with corresponding lenses. The camera and lens quality are outstanding and small. The less I have to carry, the better. At this stage, I don’t have enough of international travel assignments to justify the cost of that camera.
FotoArk: What would you answer if a client asked you this: “What makes you different from any other photographer?” (eg, why should we hire you)
Whatever and whoever I photograph, my aim is to reflect the soul of the person or place. What makes this person or place special? What is unique? I aim to dig deeper than just showing the surface. I believe when I understand the core beliefs of a person, a company I can create images that stand out.

Interested in hiring Jurgen for corporate photography? Here’s some more information:

[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’]https://www.fotoark.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/11/Jurgen-Banda-Hansmann.jpg[/author_image] [author_info]

  • Do you currently sell your photographs: No
  • Do you currently offer stock photography: Yes, via my Photoshelter archivesWould you be willing to sell your photographs to an agency? Yes/No – Yes
  • Would you accept a contract offer for photoshoot: Yes
  • Where are you available to photograph? I live in South Africa, but location is secondary. I photographed an assignment earlier this year in Vancouver, Canada for example. “Have camera can travel”
  • Contact details: You can contact me via my website – www.jurgensphotography.com or call my office during working hours (GMT +2) at +27-21-6805211 or contact me via Skype: jurgenphoto Twitter: jurgenphoto

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Tibetan Losar

Interview: Travel Photographer Dave from The Longest Way Home

Tibetan Losar

Travel Photography by a real global traveler

Welcome back to Vewe from Indonesia who manged to grab sometime with Dave from The Longest Way Home for a look at the world of travel photography.

Travel and photography has become two inseparable things these days.  Taking photos while traveling is easy, what’s difficult is taking the kind of photograph that can tell you a story, the ones that capture true emotion, those that mesmerize you.

[learn_more caption=”Click here to reveal more about Dave’s journey”]Dave is one of the few talents out there who constantly deliver these kinds of travel photographs. He is about to start his 7th year of travel without going back home. Why? Because Dave has been meticulously traveling the world searching for a place to live. All documented through his fascinating travel blog and accompanied by some great documentary style travel photography. Dave’s also been kind enough to share several articles here on FotoArk over the past few months. [/learn_more]

Hi Dave,

Thanks for agreeing to do an interview with FotoArk.

Vewe: How long have you been a photographer and what got you started?

About 9 years now. The accidental photographer? It happened first before this journey, but involved travel. 6 years ago I wanted it as a way to simply document my overland travels. Then as situations developed I began to capture them too. Examples being riots, people others don’t see, real life not just tourism.

Vewe: You specialize in travel and documentary. Why do you concentrate in these types
of photographs? Can you explain the key differences you as a photographer experience in
each one?

Again, it’s a capturing my journey philosophy more than capturing an image. My journey is quite unique, and has taken on many spectrum’s since the start. It allows me access to places others don’t go. Travel photography these days is quite bland. We’ve all seen the standard tourist shots. Over the past few years, new angles, giga photos and HDR have tried to liven it up a bit. But, we still see the same things.

I tell a story with many of my photographs. Others are part of story. We can all shoot the Taj Mahal. But how many shoot the workers restoring the Taj?

Vewe: What makes a good travel photograph? And, where is the best place for travel
photography according to you?

It’s got to make you feel emotion, and with travel; curiosity. Without this then it’s just another photo. Yes, it can look beautiful, but if it doesn’t make your heart jump then it’s lacking.

Best place? Anywhere you can. I’ll jump on a box here and mention the USA/UK censorship laws that treat photographers as terrorists these days. Compare that to walking down a street in India. There is no comparison. Photograph in a place you feel comfortable in is the real key.

Vewe: Can you share with us one of your most favorite piece of work and why you like

Sunset over Mindanao

Capturing a Sunset

Hard one that! I’d be biased and say it’s probably really boring as it would have personal emotional attachment to it. From my gallery I would have to pick ”

“The Real Ifugao Rice Terrace Worker, Sagada, The Philippines”. The guy just blew me away with his level of English. His proud look. And, his strength as he looks out over his diminishing yet historical rice terraces. The last of his kind.

After that, “My Afghan Refugee Girl”. Her look speaks volumes of what she’s been through.

Vewe: What’s the most challenging aspect of travel photography today and how have
you overcome it?

Backing them up. I am always on the road. I don’t have a base. So I rely on backing up online. It takes time and money to do this. After that I would say the challenge of securing model release forms when on a budget. Linguistically and legally it’s a challenge.

Vewe: Do you see yourself as travel photographer until you retire?

I’ve not thought about it that far. The answer is probably no. But, so long as there is a story to tell that few have heard about, then I will capture it.

Vewe: Tell us what’s been the most rewarding thing to happen to you through your

The pride some people take of having their photograph taken. In Pakistan and Iran “the arts” are highly appreciated. Being a writer or photographer in either country garners people’s respect. There are not so many places like that left.

Photographing an old man on the street. Showing him his photograph and seeing his face change … he’d not seen his own face in years. Let alone a photograph.  He touched the photograph, then his face. “Old”, he said with a thoughtful sad smile.

To me, it was heartbreaking moment.

Vewe: What are the two most important pieces of camera equipment you use and why?

A very soft clean lens cloth. A flexible shoulder strap, nothing worse than a bulky one that keeps getting in the way. A boring answer I think! But, lenses etc, are really dependent on the photographers needs. For me, getting in close is more important than “what lens”.

Vewe: How do you gain new clients in this competitive business? Do proactively
advertise, or do you literally knock on doors?

Door knocking in person. Examples of work done, and the ability to prove it. You can have a gallery with 10001 shots in it. But, no one is going to look through all that looking for examples.

Vewe: What advice would you give to someone just starting out who has a passion for
photography? Equipment, how to go about it etc.

Real Ifugao Rice Terrace Worker, Sagada, The Philippines

One of Dave's favorite photographs, a genuine Ifuagao rice terrace worker

Think practical about your equipment. I’d love to have a 10mm prime, a 600mm prime etc. but with my travel and lifestyle it’s not possible to carry “everything”. Go to a store, and try the lens, or camera you want. If you both fit, great. If not, try again.

Think of being in a world whereby everyone has a better camera than you. Now go out there and take a better photograph than them.

Vewe: A pro camera is better than an entry-level camera in the hands of an
intermediate, would you agree or not?

Yes, but at the end of the day if they don’t have heart and soul it won’t matter.

Vewe: What would you answer if a client asked you this: “What makes you different
from any other photographer?”

I work harder than anyone else to make people stop and think. I can go to places few people can, and capture things even fewer have. A free agent with no ties. That’s a rarity these days.

Interested in hiring Dave? Here’s some more information:

[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’]https://www.fotoark.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/12/The-Longest-Way-Home-Logo-small-rounded.jpg[/author_image] [author_info]

  • Do you currently sell your photographs: Yes, drop me an email via my site
  • Do you currently offer stock photography: Yes, from Portugal, Spain, France, Germany, Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, Turkey, Iran, Pakistan, India, Nepal, Tibet, China, The Philippines, West Africa, North Africa. Food items, products and custom stock also available.
  • Would you be willing to sell your photographs to an agency? Yes
  • Would you accept a contract for photo shoot: Yes
  • Where are you available to photograph? I am available worldwide depending on the project
  • Contact Details: You can contact me via my website www.thelongestwayhome.com or via twitter: @TLWH

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