Five African Women Photographers Bring Local Visions to Food Photography
Photography

Five African Women Photographers Bring Local Visions to Food Photography

Five African Women Photographers Bring Local Visions to Food Photography

by Immaculata Abba
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Working with global brands and publications, these photographers in Nigeria, Nairobi, Johannesburg, Algeria, and Uganda offer an authentic lens to food photography and culture.

Working with local food photographers is essential for brands to show an authentic perspective. While many brands fly photographers in from overseas, collaborating locally can save on travel budgets (with a greater return to the photographers) and lend an insider vision and sense of credibility.
We took a quick look at 5 women in Nigeria, Nairobi, Johannesburg, Algeria, and Uganda who bring a unique sense of depth to photographing food for local and global brands. Many of these women also have backgrounds in media and journalism, adding a rich layer to their visual storytelling.
Johannesburg-based Saleeha is a photographer and poet. Before her food photography journey began in 2007, she ran a food blog as a way to document her trials and wins in the kitchen. This led to an interest in learning how to take better photos to accompany the recipes, and that journey has led to what is now a full-time career.
Her food photography is complemented by an impressive oeuvre in product, portrait, and lifestyle photography. In her work, she helps home industries and small businesses stand out in the marketplace. For brands looking for great product photography, come to Saleeha’s work for its crisp and smart feel that eliminates distraction from the food itself.
According to Bamjee, her photography is informed by an approach of lifelong learning, both in terms of technology and being informed by the social and political trends in society. For her, this attentiveness to industry trends constitutes “the myriad ways of making imagery meaningful”.
Her client list includes Canon South Africa, Naqiyah Mayat X Le Creuset and PAUL Bakery. Her food photography has been published in Grazia magazine and Food & Home.
Yasmin Albatoul’s food photography has always run along her cooking journey, which began when she was a teenager. Based in Algeria, her mouth-watering, theatrical work has caught the attention of global brands like Lipton, Danone,  and Kiri Foods.
When asked what she is most proud of in her journey with food photography, Yasmin said it is being able “to take pictures of food differently than usual, particularly photographing food in a flying shape.”
Beyond the often gravity-defying composition of her work, her creative and alluring use of lighting intensifies the character of food and makes people stop and stare. It’s never a dull moment in any of her frames. Yasmin is currently a Canon Ambassador.
Ozoz Sokoh is a Nigerian photographer, writer, and researcher inspired by the endless possibilities of food. As a student, she was initially concerned about why Nigerian food was not as prominently or accurately featured as she thought it should be.
“I remember being a broke student,” Sokoh tells The Luupe, “spending the weekend with my friends in Manchester and recreating a cooked tomato salsa from reading off the ingredients from the back of a jar and crafting a version that we enjoyed more than the original, and one I make to this day, 25 years later!”
From cooking for friends to encountering transatlantic culinary connections, Ozoz realized that she needed to document her curiosity. So in 2009, she began the Kitchen Butterfly website which was awarded SAVEUR Mag’s 2018 Best Food Culture award.
Ozoz recently set up a digital library Feast Afrique to showcase West African culinary excellence. Her work has been published in CNN’s African Voices, Food52 and Bon Appétit.
Ozoz’ depth and passion also come through in her expertise as a content specialist, brand strategist, and food stylist for companies like Coca-Cola, Maggi-Nestle, Domino’s Pizza, and Givaudan; and a professor of food tourism and culinary arts at Canada’s Centennial College. Her commercial work is adept at matching brand goals with local cultures and traditions.
Book a demo to learn more about working with Luupe photographers around the world.
Lucy Munene’s foray into food media began when she was a university student in Malaysia and created a WordPress blog of cafe and restaurant reviews.
She got into food media through a job as a staff writer at Yummy Magazine in Nairobi.  This led to an opportunity to work at Yummy Magazine assisting photographers.
“In the beginning,” Lucy says, “I would be holding a reflector or standing on the sidelines watching but before long, I was styling the scene and coordinating what was to be shot with the help of the restaurant chef or staff that were on site. Eventually, I was handed the office camera and sent to shoot food on my own which, I didn’t know at the time, was a blessing in disguise.”
Munene's experience working at Yummy magazine propelled her own photography forward. Over the years, Lucy has honed a food photography style that stands out for its cozy, homely feel. For brands looking to remind their customers that food is where the heart is, Lucy’s work shines with warmth and comfort.
▲ One of Munene's photos for Yummy Magazine
Her local and international client list includes home-cooked ready meal brands like The Food Fairy, snack companies like The Cracker Shack, resorts like Ololo Safari Lodge and even commercial farms. While her work exudes domestic comfort, it is equally versatile. Whether you like your shots bubbly or moody, Lucy has the range.
Lucy also works as a recipe developer. She has contributed to two Greenspoon Kenya recipe calendars—cooking, styling, and shooting 12 recipes in each of them.
Sophia Musoki is a Ugandan food photographer, blogger, and writer whose work is instrumental in bringing Ugandan cuisine to the world. From Pigeon Pea Stew to Fried Ntula with Mukene Powder, her recipes and photography explore the relationship between food and identity and bring a positive light to African food and the experiences around it.
Musoki's style and photographic approach range from dark and moody with nods to dutch still life, to bold and commercially lit.
“The amount of personal and professional growth I have experienced in the course of 10 years will always be amazing to me,” she tells The Luupe. “But the thing I am most proud of is the dedication which has helped me learn to tell visual stories and develop my own style of food photography.”
Musoki's client list includes the Ugandan chicken brand Yo Kuku and online wine retailer The Pantry. As a self-taught food photographer, she started by running a general blog in 2012 and after 2 years, she niched down into food writing and photography.
Her blog ‘A Kitchen in Uganda’ has been featured on Buzzfeed, nominated for the Saveur Magazine food culture award and has been featured in the African food and wine lifestyle magazine Cuisine Noir and CNN. Her e-book Seasonal Cooking won the Gourmand World Cookbook Award in 2015.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Immaculata Abba
Immaculata Abba is a researcher, writer, and visual artist. Her work asks: how can we improve social and economic living standards in both domestic and public spheres? Abba work has appeared in international publications like Le Temps (Switzerland), The Guardian (UK), The Republic (NG), and African Arguments.
Abba is a research fellow with the Shared Heritage Africa project between DOCOMOMO International and Architectuul. Previously, Abba was an inaugural freelance journalism fellow at African Arguments (Royal African Society) and a 2022 West African writer-in-residence at the Library of Africa and the African Diaspora, Ghana.
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