Selvam, now a successful food stylist and blogger, started her career pulling all-nighters, working as an instructional designer with an e-learning firm – designing technology-based learning solutions for corporate houses. But, her love of food was so strong and intense that giving up on a career (of 12 years) in learning and development, felt just right, she tells us laughing!
“Although I loved conceptualising learning solutions, I just happened to love food more! Food would always be playing on my mind. I would constantly be thinking about what to cook. Would be reading about food, or be watching food shows on the television and reading inspiring food blogs… almost always,” she remembers.
In 2014, (while she was still working), she started her food blog to record and share her passion for cooking. This blog changed her life… literally! “My blog was the beginning of the journey of self-discovery. A blog also meant that aside of cooking and writing about the food I construct, take nice photos of the food, was key. Further on, I realised that just photographing food wasn’t enough, I felt the need to share a visual story though my spreads. It made me happy to convey moods, season, state of mind, or any specific story that I’d like to convey through my images – hence the interest in food styling came by,” she replies with a smile. It was through food she discovered her love for food styling and the ever growing penchant for food photography. “I’ve always had a creative urge for doing things differently and that has always been the driving factor,” she quips.
Hard work really pays off, and Salvam is a living example of this statement. Through her blog, Facebook and Instagram posts, inquiries started pouring in, asking her if she could do it professionally. It paved a way of opportunity for her. Today, she is a professional food stylist and photographer. She also works with food establishments on menu consulting and recipe development.
“Honestly, it was not an easy decision or something that I decided overnight – the decision of quitting my good comfortable job for food was something that I had been mulling over for over a year. It takes courage to step out of the comfort zone and follow your heart. The apprehensions of how things will pan out, financial uncertainties are enough to make you take a U-turn on the decision, but strength of the genuine passion is all you need to overcome those fears. My belief in my passion fueled my decision and helped me take that plunge,” states Selvam.
Anything that you learnt in that process? “If you are passionate about something, you must keep at it! Keep it alive. Don’t do anything that will kill that passion. Stay away from it. For instance, I love cooking, but I didn’t want to get into cooking commercially. I didn’t take that road, although I got many opportunities. I was clear about what I wanted and what I didn’t. I wanted to be in this industry, the periphery of food, and do what I really loved doing. Styling, photography and ideating on recipes makes me incredibly happy! Also, keep an open mind to learn constantly. That is one of the only ways one can get better. Saying ‘yes’ is easy, but learn to say ‘no’, when you have to. Focus on building credibility for the long run than looking to get on a quick road to success. Don’t compare yourself with others and be hard on yourself because the stories of everyone’s lives are different, the struggles are different. And most importantly, build relationships and be humble,” says Selvam.