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Food and people: Jo Yee

Jack of all trades and master of all, photographer, food blogger and travel aficionado Jo Yee has us in awe of her breathtaking photographs. From delicious noodle dishes in Vietnam to colourful brunches in New York, she takes us around the world with her – one photo at a time. Documenting every step of the way on her blog Candids by Jo, the Boston native never runs out of ideas, and we’ve sat down with her to find out where that inspiration comes from.

Jo-Yee-Photographer..

Following her stay with us in Rue de Vaugirard, we caught up with her about all things food, travel and London. She told us about her beginnings as a freelancer, her favourite travel destinations and where to get the best oysters in London. She says that she couldn’t imagine her life any other way, and it’s easy to see when her love for what she does shines through in every sentence – but see for yourself below. 

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See more of Jo’s photos on her Instagram: @candidsbyjo

How did you get into photography, more specifically into food and travel photography?

I used to work in financial marketing, and while I really enjoyed my job, I wanted to do something a little more creative.  So I bought a camera and embarked on a personal project where I posted a photo every day for a year. Food and travel were the topics that came quite naturally to me, and although I missed the full year by a few days, it really helped me discover my love for photography.

How did you manage to change from the industry you were in previously? How did you make the break?

Going from a full-time job to being a freelance photographer didn’t come natural to me and was actually a very hard thing to do, but I decided to leave my job and give it a go anyway. But I was so scared of failing that I went back to a traditional 9-to-5 after nine months of freelancing as it was so challenging. But within a week I realised that it wasn’t for me. It took me a year of meticulous saving to be financially ready in case I couldn’t find work immediately, and within a month of going back to freelancing, I got a deal to shoot a friend’s cookbook, which was when things really took off for me.

What made you move across the pond and end up in London? 

My husband is from London, so I moved here five years ago to be with him. It wasn’t easy for the first year or two as I found it hard to make friends. I actually didn’t start liking London until I started blogging. Social media, and blogging specifically, really opened up the city to me as I felt a sense of purpose and belonging.

Food is obviously at the heart of your travels, how do you discover the best food places while in a new city?

I do a lot of research online before my trips, and use Instagram and blogs more and more. The geotag function on Instagram is especially useful. But nothing beats recommendations from friends and family who have already been there – they always know best!

What is your favourite food city, and why?

London really has the broadest cuisine in terms of choice. For global cuisine, nothing beats it. The actual local destinations are of course always best, but you can find anything in London, and to a really high standard as well. I love ramen, which London has delicious options for! It’s amazing to see how much the food culture has changed here in the past five years that I’ve been here!

What’s your favourite London taste sensation?

I love Dishoom as the whole experience is just so great. I’m also a big fan of food markets, and have recently fallen in love with Druid Street – make sure you try Decatur London’s oysters when you’re there. They’re the best in London!

What makes a good food Instagram shot?

I find that it’s not enough to post a good food shot anymore, but that it’s the story behind the shot that really makes it. My best performing posts are the ones where I give more context and background info on the photo, and what I liked about that specific moment. Stepping away from artificial lights and sitting close to the window so the colours of the food come out, is really important too.

How do you keep your blog updated and interesting?

It helps that I’m a curious person and enjoying exploring London and new places I visit — it really inspires me. Now that I’m freelancing full-time, my schedule is more flexible and I can do these things at the times that suit me best. I also look at what other people do and take inspiration from that. In the past I tried too hard to create something new and not look at what anyone else is doing but being inspired is so important in order to grow and find your own voice and style. If you’re passionate about something you naturally want to keep learning more about it.

Where will you go next? And where was your last destination?

I just came back from Dublin, which I absolutely loved. And both Bretagne and Cuba are on my bucket list for next year (hopefully!).

Jo-Yee-Photographer..

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