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Our First Post: Why We Built Tablecrafter

I remember when the package from Amazon arrived at my doorstep. It was a typical brown box flashing that signature smirk under the logo, beckoning me to open it. After waiting almost sixty days for this package–because that's how long it takes if you live in the Philippines–I was ready.

The box contained a shiny new set of professional studio lights: the first quality product I've purchased since I could only afford shoddy China-made equipment earlier in my career. I hopped to my studio, unpacked the box, wept for a second, and finally, plugged the device. In astonishment, I looked at the bulb straight in the eye and relished this beautiful object. I hit the switch. Boom!

It exploded. In my face. The high-powered bulb seared my eyes and it blinded me for a minute. When I regained my vision, all I could see were the glass remains scattered on the floor and the stupidity of my actions. If not for the metal guard that sat in front of the bulb, I might have gone blind for good.

With the number of ignorant experiments I ran as a beginner who was equal parts eager and lost, I could write a half-exciting novel about all my mistakes. Now if I had a place to learn this, I could have spared myself the clunkery.

I've been practicing photography for almost ten years. I started my career taking pictures of people, but then eventually found myself focused on shooting only food because I had more fun with it. In fact, I run a photography studio called PhotoKitchen where I shoot food for clients: both mom n' pop restaurants and multinational corporations like Coca-cola, Nestle, and the big advertising agencies. I learned everything through the internet, and it was hard.

I did not have a mentor. I could not afford to study in a prestigious art school. Most of the learning materials available online and in bookstores were dry, outdated, or too casual. None could teach me what I wanted to learn at a price I could afford. I had to dive in and do stupid things like make light bulbs explode for me to learn to the craft.

In recent years, food photography and styling have risen in popularity because of platforms like Instagram and Pinterest, but the resources to practice and learn it have not. It's a deep, immersive, and enjoyable craft, and strangely, nobody's talking about it.

This is why we made Tablecrafter.

We hope that people who want to get into the visual art of food can do so at a fraction of the cost of art school, learn it in an incredibly short amount of time, and have great fun with it. We also want to help connect people who care about this craft: cooks, photographers, or simple food enthusiasts in a close-knit community that we'll try to build. And for those who want to do this as a career, we'll eventually offer serious resources for professional work.

We're only a few days old, and we still have plenty of work to do. Right now, we're focused on building more classes, creating more free content in our magazine, and helping people out.

I'd love to see you around! If you have any questions or concerns, please send me an email and I'll do my best to reply right away.


Mylene Chung (@mylenechung) directs photography and styling at Tablecrafter on top of running her own small studio called PhotoKitchen for the past eight years. She takes care of two fat cats. Send her an email to mylene@tablecrafter.com.