Bloggers are the flavour of the day, but it takes many skills to pull it off, writes Nontando Mposo
Social media has changed the way we eat and relate to food in a number of ways. Platforms such as Instagram and Snapchat have overhauled the way we, as “foodies” (people with a particular interest in food) eat.
First we take a pretty picture of our meal, upload it online before we dig in and wait for the all important “likes”.
Food bloggers and photographers are the rock stars of the internet and usually have the most followers in multiple social media platforms.
Sam Linsell, a professional food stylist, recipe developer and food photographer, is one of the top influencers in the country with the largest number of followers on her food blog, Drizzle and Dip.
Her digital presence reaches more than 90 000 followers across Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest, as well as an additional 162 000+ followers on Tumblr.
In June this year DrizzleandDip.com won the top food blog in Africa award in the African Bloggers Awards and was a runner-up in the photography category.
The blog is a foodie haven with mouth-watering images and recipes.
We meet Linsell for breakfast at The Shortmarket Club on 88 Shortmarket Street .
The establishment is one of the latest eateries in the CBD offering fine dining cuisine in a beautiful space.
We are treated to beautifully plated and delicious breakfast dishes of Scotch egg, egg and soldiers, hot smoked trout and asparagus by chef Wesley Randles.
But we are here to speak to Linsell, who after working in the hotel and hospitality industry for 20 years in Joburg, including at Nandos as a food brand manager, decided to quit her job in 2008 and move back to Cape Town to follow her passion for food.
“Food has always been my first love, I would say. I decided to quit the corporate slaving, as I like to call it, and build a life around food. I did not know at that stage what I wanted to do but I knew that it needed to be around food and something creative,” she says.
“As I resigned... a food stylist that I had worked with was offering a course in food styling.
"I did that and then I came to Cape Town and became a food stylist. It happened quite quickly, I think, because I had the confidence and had done so many food shoots while I was in marketing.
“It was a natural transition for me. I got a few lucky breaks in the beginning. I started working on food campaigns for Woolworths and Checkers early in my career. Now, I am an author and blogger and I do a lot of international TV work,” Linsell explains.
To date, she has written and produced two cookbooks. The first was her self-published book, Drizzle and Dip, and her latest one, Sweet published in 2015 by Penguin Random House, is now on sale.
“My social media platforms have grown as a result of my blog.
"Over the years I had to learn how to be a photographer, how to write and to develop recipes.
"I am a self-taught photographer and that has taken some time.
"My success has not been an overnight thing... we are looking at close to seven years of hard work to get to where I am now.
"And I am still learning all the time, every day,” she says.
Linsell’s main sources of inspiration come from travelling, eating out at different eateries around the country and digital platforms such as Pinterest, Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.
“The different social media platforms all have their own lives and ways of interacting with people. Facebook is very important for their certain categories and for food videos, recipes are popular there and you can reach the older age group.
"Twitter tends to be quite newsy.
"The people who follow me there are more interested in where I am eating dinner that night rather than what I have done in my blog.
“Instagram is very much a food photography platform for me. People are really interested in seeing my images of food.
"When I post a picture of a sunset for example, I will get a lot of 'unfollowers'. My Instagram page is very foodie.
“I curate each of the platforms in a different way. I see them (the platforms) as separate entities even though they are all linked to my blog... they ultimately stand on their own,”she says.
Linsell’s tips for taking an Instagram-worthy foodie photo
* First thing is natural light. Never ever use a flash.
* Try and compose the image so that you don’t cut off the plate. If it’s a round plate rather cut off one side versus both sides.
* Composition – the rule of third applies even with food. Sometimes a close-up will work and sometimes a little bit further works best.
* Use photo editing apps. Apps such as Snapseed will really make the photo look as nice as possible.
* Shoot things that are naturally pretty and very appetising, such as burgers and pizza. Avoid curries and stews.
* Connect with Linsell at www.drizzleanddip.com and Instagram, Facebook and Twitter drizzleanddip
Visit www. theshortmarketclub.co.za