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The Unbearable Lightness of Being Hungry

The Unbearable Lightness of Being Hungry: Lee Tran Lam quizzes chefs, critics, bar staff and other people from the world of food about their career highlights and lowlights, war stories and favourite places to eat and drink in Sydney.

Jul 3, 2017

Nikki To's first shoots involved helicopters – an interesting challenge as she's "kind of afraid of heights"! Becoming a food photographer was an unlikely progression from her original plans to be a human rights lawyer, but her eventual career path led to her work appearing in Broadsheet, Gourmet Traveller, Qantas' inflight mag and even Swedish "Gourmet" magazine.

After assisting industry veterans such as Daniel Boud, Petrina Tinslay and Anson Smart, she went solo: framing portraits of famous chefs (Jamie Oliver, Marco Pierre White) and local talents (she's taken possibly the best-ever picture of Mitch Orr, ever). She's ended up directing her lens at the tabletops of acclaimed local restaurants (Automata, Quay), as well as shooting New York during a hurricane.

We talk about the weird tricks and props that are used in photo shoots (lube, steaming tampons) as well as the extreme lengths (or heights) she's gone to, to get an amazing shot. Think awkward positions with Adriano Zumbo or enduring freezing waves to shoot Nic Wong underwater.

Plus: her favourite places to eat and drink in Sydney, how to get a good shot when people don't like having photographs taken of themselves, and her advice for getting into the industry. Look out for Nikki's work on Instagram, online and also via her new business, Buffet, which she's set up with her former Broadsheet editor, Sophie McComas.