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Behind the scenes with @mulino.cooks

Welcome to Behind the Scenes with @luciebeck. A blog where behind the scenes knowledge is shared by various photographers around the world. We are all connected by our passion for food and photography. This weeks guest: Yulia from @mulino.cooks. 

Can you introduce yourself?

I am Yulia Mulino, a food and product photographer based in the Netherlands. I love cooking and can do it very well, that helped me to became a recipe developer and food stylist as well. Having an artistic background, I create unique backdrops for my images.

How did you start with food photography and how did you learn?

I started my food blog on Instagram in 2017 just to be a part of a cooking community. At that time, I had a semi-professional Canon camera, with portrait lenses, and photographed dishes for myself. I thought: why not to share stuff with others? I participated in photo and recipe competitions and enjoyed receiving likes and communicating with my followers. In one year, I got my first order, I had to develop recipes and photograph 15 dishes – very challenging, very exciting! There came another project. I realized that my passion could be my job. By that time, I was already self employed as an artist, which was easily to combine with photography. To master my skills in working with light and postproduction I have always been following online courses.

I see that you also photograph products?

Yes, it is true. I stared to work with product projects almost from the beginning of my photography way, in 2018. Cosmetics brand liked my minimalistic food photos and they asked if I could make something similar with their products. At that point, I understood that these spheres are very close, both belong to the genre of still life photography, I started positioning myself as a product photographer as well.

Could you describe your style?

Being a photographer (not a blogger), I would not say that I stick to one style. I like experimenting with styles, techniques and lighting. Working with clients’ projects I need to follow the references and requirements stated in a brief. I mean, I can work in differs styles, rustic, scandinavian or minimalistic. But my favorites would be advertising or poster style, I also go for artistic and modern styles, love operating with hard light and eclectics. I often employ colored or tile backgrounds and natural materials like stones or wood.

Do you have special tips about product photography?

The main rule I always follow: keep the image simple. Product should stand out and all the props should only underline its qualities. Follow the trends (colors, style, presentation) keeping in mind the philosophy and individuality of each particular brand. Try to use “wow effects”, levitation, motion, speaking symbols.

Where do you get your inspiration from or any specific photographers?

I can be inspired by EVERYTHING. Art, movies, playing with children, watching my husband cooking, shadows in the forest and even garbage on the street can inspire me.

Speaking about photographers, Irvin Penn is an absolute genius. I admire the way he plays with food using surrealistic symbols, ending up with a provoking but still a mouthwatering image.

How do clients find you?

Mostly, I find clients on Instagram and via local communities. 

Do you work with brands?

Yes, I do work with brands, both with food and product ones. But I work with online editions as well, writing about food and photographing recipes.

Do you have good tips about your portfolio? What do you think should be in it?

It depends on your goal. If you want to attract particular clients you should have a collection of photos demonstrating your skills in the best way. I think it is important to show that you can work with different surfaces, materials and props, you know how to style various dishes, you are aware when to use particular light schemes.

How much time do you spend on social media and which channels do you use the most?

For the present moment, my main platform is Instagram. I wish I could find more time for my portfolio on Pinterest. I do address to Pinterest for inspiration.

Currently, I don’t spend much time on social media. The more offline activities I have the less I post online. I still need to find the right equilibrium.

Do you have 1 good tip for Instagram and 1 good tip for Pinterest?

Provide quality content.

Where do you make your photos, at home or in a studio?

I have my studio in the attic. It is big enough to fit all my equipment and props. When I work with cooking projects I do in my kitchen and move the light and backdrops there.

How do you prepare a photography & styling set?

If I don’t have a brief with a thorough description of the photo, I begin with the object itself, food or product, and decide what style and light I am going to use. Then, it depends on the goal: if it is a lifestyle photo and I need to tell a story, I would go for suitable props. If it is an advertising photo, I would more likely check which effects would highlight the quality of the product.

Where do you start, do you use a moodboard?

In 80% of the cases, I start with a sketch. It is much easier to work on composition on a piece of paper rather than in a studio. Certainly, I use moodboard to have the whole picture of the project.

What tools in a photography setting can’t be missed?

I would say that it is rather hard to reach a satisfying result without a good lens suitable for your purposes. You can shoot using a low-budget camera, can make wonderful pictures with natural light, can work even without tripod (to the certain extent, though). But it is quite a challenge to make a good product or food shot with a kit lens 18-55mm, for instance.

Can you tell which equipment you work with?

The main tool is my favorite camera Canon 5D IV and my lenses, Canon 100mm, Canon 24-70mm and Canon 85 mm, not to forget Manfrotto tripod, Godox lamps and Wacom tablet.

Which light do you work with (daylight/artificial)?

Mostly, I work with artificial light. I have three lamps, for photo and video projects.

How do you make sure you find a balance between leisure/home and work?

That’s a good one. I know that it may be an issue in some cases for freelancers. I try not to work in the evening and on weekends. The matter is that cooking and photography is my passion not only my job and I can study some photoshop tricks or test some new recipes even on weekend.

What lessons did you learn along the way?

Dare to act. If you want something just go for it. I wish I hesitated less in starting posting my home dishes already in 2014, for instance. Don’t compare your work with the others – we all have our own way. Start editing in Lightroom and Photoshop (or other platforms) right now. Learn to make and edit videos.

What is your dream…..?

Oh, you don’t want to speak about your dreams if you want those to come true, ahaha.

Tips and tricks?

Watch around. Save the works you like and analyze those – what exactly is so appealing to you. Invest in education. Probably, these are the most common tips in every sphere, but still: practice regularly, don’t stress out and have fun!

Instagram: @mulino.cooks/


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