Essentials (South Africa)
HOW SOCIAL MEDIA CHANGED MY LIFE
Whether it’s showcasing your passions or offering advice, social media can be a powerful tool. These three women share their personal experiences
These three women share their personal experiences of how social media can open new opportunities
Christy Strever, 35, is a chef-turned-photographer who lives in Randburg with her brother Robin, 38. She is known in social media circles as the ‘ Food Selfie Queen’. I’ve always been a big foodie. While some people eat to live, I eat for the pure enjoyment of it and I put a lot of effort into prepping meals I know I’ll love – that’s why I became a chef in the first place. But while I loved my job, I eventually had to give it up because I started developing food allergies. I became both gluten and lactose intolerant, which made it difficult to prepare a variety of food.
In 2010, I left the food industry to pursue a career as a photographer. I’ve always had a passion for taking photos – I was given a camera at age 10, and my brother and stepfather taught me a lot about photography while I was growing up. But in 2010, little did I know that my two interests – food and photography – would one day become a killer combo in the form of my social media alter ego: Food Selfie Queen. By 2014 I’d become a full-time freelance photographer.
Soc ial Media Jour ney
In 2017 I stumbled across a photo of a woman with a pineapple perched on her head and there was just something about it that sparked my creativity. I replicated the image by posing with a pineapple on my head and posted it on my Instagram account and got more than 100 likes.
I raided my fridge, and started posing creatively and taking photographs with all the fresh produce I had. I posted a
‘At the moment it’s a passion project, not something I make money from’
photo where I had a lemon in my mouth and I’d applied yellow make-up to match, painted my face like a strawberry and posed with the fruit, made earrings and a necklace from baby butternuts, and adorned myself in asparagus. People loved it – even celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay liked and followed my account! When I started, I only had 400 followers but it’s grown to over 1 300 in a year.
When I’m inspired, the process is easy, but sometimes I need visual stimulation to get my creative juices flowing – that’s when I go to my nearest grocery store to walk the aisles and look at all the fresh produce to spark an idea. I get odd looks from the store staff and the other shoppers but it’s all part of the process of finding my next muse.
Once I have the idea, half the battle is won. I do everything myself from the make-up to the lighting and taking the photo. I set up in a room at home or in front of my passage wall and I take about 100 photos by using a cable attached to my camera .
Once I’ve chosen the best photo, I Photoshop in a colour background and do a few minor touch-ups. The whole process can take me anything between 45 minutes and three hours. I shoot the selfies at midday because the lighting during that time of day is perfect for my Insta stories. The actual picturetaking doesn’t need lights as I have my studio lighting set up. I’m lucky to be a freelancer with flexible hours – I don’t know how else I’d find the time.
The most challenging selfies I have taken were the ones I did in the bath, or where I’ve had to ask friends to throw milk made from milk powder on me. It’s all in the name of fun and receiving positive comments after posting a picture is what makes it worth it.
I was adorned in asparagus and Gordon Ramsay liked my post!
How my life has ch anged
Since my Food Selfie Queen social media posts have gained traction, I’ve had calls from companies asking me to be their brand ambassador
– I’ve even had a US restaurant contact me to pose with their food. I’ve worked with some brands but at this stage I don’t make money from my selfies: it’s a passion project.
Some people have said
I’m wasteful because of how I handle food in my posts, but I have the utmost respect for food in all shapes and forms. What I don’t eat is used for compost or fed to the birds. The food selfies are a way of expressing my love of food, and I appreciate that so many of my followers draw inspiration from my work. It’s nice watching my following grow, but that’s not why I’m doing this; it’s for the feedback and to inspire creativity in others. I’ve learnt that when you post what resonates with you, not necessarily what your followers expect, you’ll attract the kind of audience you’re looking for.
✱ Follow Christy on Instagram @christystrever ( Food Selfie Queen)