What comes into your mind when you hear the word “eye candy”? According to Urban Dictionary, it’s defined as something that is aesthetically pleasing, more often used on human beings like Chris Evans and Ryan Gosling. In all seriousness though, Eunice Martin Lim, or better known as Eunice Eunny, brings eye candy to its literal meaning. A photographer and a food stylist, this girl takes pictures that look better than they taste and the taste is already quite hard to top, mind you.
I mean, really, “wow” doesn’t even describe the beauty of her photos. Fortunately for ROJAK, we have the whole month to slowly get to know Eunice, starting with this interview piece, as she tells us about her food styling process, her most memorable travel story, and her thoughts on er, fishes.
How would you describe yourself in one sentence, without stating the obvious?
*pulls a long breath* I am ruthlessly ambitious, mysterious, altruistic, boisterous to be around, and romantic.
How has 2016 been treating you so far?
There are a lot of ups and downs thus far, but there have definitely been more ups than downs. Anyway, I am truly grateful for everything that I have encountered so far, it definitely helped me grow as a person. The friends I’ve met, the not-so-fortunate experiences that I came across. I’ve learnt not take things too seriously, to cherish my family and people who are close to me, and most importantly, to celebrate life!
Tell us a little about what got you into photography. Was it in-born or did you slowly fall into it?
I fell into it when I was about 16 or 17. I come from a strict family, where I don’t get to do a lot of outdoor activities, so my best past-time hobby is to surf the net. I come from a very ‘tam chiak’ family, so obviously the only thing I will Google/surf is anything and everything related to food. I was fascinated with all the food blogs I stumbled upon, and back in those days, all I wished was to be able to try every new cafe/restaurants that offered different cuisines. That lead to me creating a food blog, but I only posted photos and recipe of the food my mom cooked. Gradually, I started posting about every meal that I had with my family whenever we dined out. I became so obsessed with the idea of “camera eats first” and after a few years, I successfully pestered my dad to buy me a DSLR, and poof, everything else is history.
What about food styling?
You know when you think you’ve mastered something and you would like to up your game, that kind of feeling? I browse through a lot of photos on Flickr, Pinterest, Instagram and blogs that give me inspiration during my leisure time. After a while, I slowly became obsessed with styling my shoots just to get the best results. I began collecting all plates, cups, glasses, cutleries that come in all sizes, shapes and colour. I look into all the details that makes a good photo, then I studied them. Now I’ve got a cupboard full of props, all thanks to my dad who had given me unconditional support in what I’m doing, financially and morally.
Are you doing this full-time or is it a part-time gig?
It started out as a part-time thing, and now that I’ve registered my own company, I’m doing it full-time whilst juggling other businesses.
What do you think is the biggest misconception that people have about photography?
“Photography? Click the shutter button only mah. I can do it too. All you need is a damn good camera.” All I can say is, you can’t judge before trying it yourself.
What actually goes on in your mind when you style a shoot? How do you determine where to place a particular ingredient, what angle to take from, etc.?
First, I will decide what is my object and subject, and then I will start doing the framing in my camera. From there, I will proceed to add in or subtract the props to make the entire frame look ‘full’ and pleasing to the eye. Also, I’ll think of what complements the object that I am shooting. Let’s say I am shooting Japanese cuisine. I will focus on the mains (soba, udon, rice, etc.) and I’ll think of the things that come together in a package such as jugs of green tea and tea cups, Japanese-themed table cloth, plates, green tea ice cream, and so on, to put into the frame as a backdrop so that the entire photo looks more complete. Angle wise, you just have to keep experimenting and see what works best on the spot. You can’t exactly specify a certain angle because food comes in all sizes, shapes and texture, and also on how it’s presented or served vary as well.
How long does it usually take to complete a shoot, from the brainstorming, to the set up and so on, so forth?
If it’s a planned shoot, it usually takes up to 2 to 3 days or more, from brainstorming to getting the right props, backdrop, ingredients and the execution. If it’s an ad hoc shoot, it can be as short as 2 to 5 hours.
Would you say that you have a standard style when it comes to taking pictures? Perhaps a certain theme, composition and such?
I wouldn’t say I have a particular style in taking photos. I just follow my heart because I think if you just stick to one theme, you are limiting yourself and not opening yourself up to new opportunities that might help you grow. I’m always up for trying new things. They always say to think outside the box, but to me, I like to think like there’s no box.
Are there any other photography genres that you would like to venture into someday?
Perhaps traveling and underwater photography.
Random question. Do you get to eat the food from your shoots?
For commercial shoots, no. If it’s just shooting for personal interest and at my own leisure, then yes.
Favourite place you’ve traveled to and why?
London! I mean, who doesn’t like London if they’ve been there? The vibes, the fashion scene, the culture, the breezy weather, the architecture, every corner of the street is just so photogenic, and the food especially! The people in London dress up wherever they go, I was the only odd Asian with my dressed-down attire wandering on the street, with my camera hanging around my neck, hair swaying against the wind, trying my best to fit in the place. At that exact moment, it felt like I was in a music video, feeling young, wild and free. *laughs* Also, the people over there aren’t judgmental at all. As a matter of fact, they’re pretty amicable. Everyone smiles at each other, even strangers! The food portion they serve in the UK is huge and I can tell that they put a lot of thoughts into creating the dishes. You know that inexplicable joy that you get when you get to feast with your eyes before savoring your meal? The sophistication that the city exudes rounded up my memorable trip in the UK and it’s pretty much what made me fell in love.
Favourite country you’ve yet to visit and why?
Iceland. I would love to visit Blue Lagoon one day. Looking at those stunning photos online just stirs me up so much. I would like to dip myself in the sky-blue lagoon, slather all the mineral mud on my face and body, and take a picture! Don’t be envious, my friend. It’ll be my biggest dream come true if I get to visit Iceland with my loved ones before I’m 25.
Any crazy travel experience(s) to share?
During my Europe trip, my friend and I booked a ticket from Paris to Venice and the journey to the airport was… daunting. It was our last day in Paris and we had hours to kill before boarding the flight so we decided to go to Sadaharu Aoki, a renowned dessert parlor that serves the best French patisseries with a Japanese touch, but it was another 45 minutes away from the direction of the airport. We calculated the estimated fare and time and figured out that it will work, and also planned to spend the rest of our change on the macaroons. So we took the train there, missed a station and caused the journey to be delayed. When we finally reached our destination, what amazed us was that there was a queue before the shop was open! Since we’re already there, of course, we proceeded to join the queue. We were so happy that we got there, but also felt anxiety starting to creep in as we were already running late.
We got our profiteroles and macaroons and a couple of other pastries and we were done. Then we marched back to the station with boxes of pastries on one hand, lugging our luggage on the other, and carrying a big ass backpack containing essentials like camera and laptops. And because we spent all our money on desserts, we didn’t have enough for a cab. Predictably, we were 10 minutes late to board the plane. Once we arrived at the airport, the amazing race started. We ran like crazy but the boarding gate was closed. While we’re still trying to catch our breath, we went to the officer who was sitting at the counter and asked for help. He looked at us, then took out his walkie-talkie and started speaking some French we couldn’t comprehend. In the end, we managed to hop into the plane and when I finally have the time to calm down, I thanked God for the Sadaharu Aoki dessert.
As is ROJAK’s tradition, we asked Eunice questions that may seem irrelevant, but are actually very important and totally not just because we’re weird.
If you’re forced to be an object for the rest of your life, what would you be?
I would be a flower, cause my presence would make people happy.
Do you believe in love at first sight?
I had a crush on Sam Claflin when I first saw him in the Hunger Games, does that count? *laughs* In real life, not really, I don’t believe in superficial love. Well, good-looking guys do capture my attention, but only what’s beneath that facade will be able to determine whether he’s worth falling in love with.
What is the one driving habit that annoys you the most?
I hate it when the car in front of me steps the brake pedal all of a sudden. I’ve got into two minor accidents because of this.
Would you rather never have Internet access again or never be able to take an airplane again?
It’s like asking me to choose between eating and drinking. Perhaps I’ll choose to never have Internet access again. I’d still love to see the world with my own eyes.
Current favourite song?
I am immensely in love with the song ‘Falling in Love in A Coffeeshop’ by Landon Pigg.
Do you think fishes get thirsty?
Nope. Don’t think so.
Would you rather smell terrible (but you can’t smell it) or your partner smell terrible and you have to smell it?
I can’t take both. But if I were to choose one, I’d rather my partner smell terrible and I will have to sacrifice. Maybe I’ll get immune to it one day. I hope.
If Eunice’s photos made you drool all over your desk, well, why stop now? Continue drooling over her photos at her social accounts as follows:
All photos sourced from Eunice’s VSCO profile.