How I Got Into Photography

In particular, food photography.

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Hi there, my name is Kera Wong and I am a foodie.

A common question I get from people is, "How did you get into photography?" This question is often asked after people get to know more about my history, such as my studies at school, my career path after university, and my occupation now (barista). My story is actually not very interesting, but for those who are curious, the journey begins here.

I love to create.

Ever since I was a child I loved to create. I was drawing Pokemon cartoons when I was 8, and by the time I was 9 I had drawn all the original 151. I excelled in visual art classes in high school including design and painting, however, due to fears that my art wasn't good enough I never pursued this in university. Instead, I studied English Literature as my major and graduated with the aim to become a teacher. 

Struggles with academic life.

About a year into my arts degree I was hit with a bout of severe depression that held me back a year of study. At the same time I was struggling with bad cases of eating disorders including bulimia, anorexia, and body dysmorphia which controlled every aspect of my life and it also affected my creative abilities. After finishing my arts degree after 5 years I went back to school to study psychology (in the hopes to help others like myself), however, the eating disorders and severe anxiety made it difficult for me to focus, so I stopped studying and working to concentrate on making myself better, which including writing as a way of documenting my recovery.

Filmmaking and "Vagabond".

After 2 years of doing not much with my life I made a conscious effort to improve my writing skills in the hopes to somehow make use of my degree. I inadvertently wrote the film "Vagabond", a story about an old man struggling to reconnect with his family, and while I was making this film I noticed that I thoroughly enjoyed every creative aspect of it including the film direction, the art department, but what fascinated me even more was what was on the screen.

After the movie ended.

After the principle production of "Vagabond" ended and the post-production began, I entered the workforce again and became a barista. I still struggled with my anxiety and eating disorders, but having the film to work on was a good distraction and I grew more and more confident with myself as the months went by, and as a result my bulimia went from occurring every day to only once every few days, which after 8 years of struggling was a small but significant step forward.

Rebuilding a relationship with food.

Throughout my early 20's I also attended regular appointments with various therapists who I would often talk to about my issues with food. I kept a regular diary of the food I'd eaten (and purged) but one day she suggested that I keep a visual food diary so that I had something more physical to attach my memories to. This was the first picture I took following that conversation, a salmon and avocado breakfast plate from Hello Friends + Allies:

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I didn't know it back then, but it was the start of something really great.

Sick of home.

As my relationship with food grew healthier along with my skills as a barista, I started to understand that a lot of my struggles were due to the toxicity around me, including friends and family that were unsupportive of my lifestyle choices and were unwilling to aid me in my efforts to better myself. It was a hard transition to put myself through, but I made the move with my partner to Sydney, Australia where we decided to start afresh with new jobs, new friends, and new opportunities. Little did I know that this is how my life was meant to start.

Becoming a Sydney foodie.

It wasn't long before I learned that Sydney was a huge hub for food. Everywhere I went there were eggs, flowers, and matcha EVERYWHERE, and at every cafe and restaurant there was always someone with a phone or DSLR snapping shots of food, and on my first day in Sydney I saw someone stand on a stool to get a flatlay (I overheard them use the term “flatlay” and was curious what this was). I then went home to hashtag search flatlay, and it was like seeing the future right before my eyes. I relentlessly saved money for months while I snapped pictures of my food with my old iPhone 5, and several months later I finally bought my first mirrorless camera (Canon M10), and got this really cool shot that would become the basis of my aesthetics:

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As soon as I took this picture I knew that food was no longer going to rule my life, it was going to BE my life. I started to rewire my focus towards trying to achieve the PERFECT SHOT, and not long after this photo was taken I realised it had been well over a month since I had binged or purged anything, and I owe it all to the beauty of food.

Where I am now...

While I am definitely not an expert on photography (I've only owned a camera for 6 months) I am definitely more confident in my skills as a photographer, and my eating disorders and body dysmorphia is almost non-existent, all because I took a picture of every meal. Today I am still a barista in Sydney, and part-time I work for a marketing company that specialises in food and beverage as their creative assist. With my health back on track, the next step in my career is to move on from working full-time in hospitality and to transition full-time into marketing. It won't be an easy move, but it's true that nothing in life is ever easy, to get to where I need to be I must keep working hard to ensure I achieve all my goals in life, and I know I will get there as long as I maintain the most important relationship of all - with myself. Who knows where I will be in the next month, year, or even five years... Would you like to join me and see together?

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