"What I love about food photography is that I am dependent on no one. I don't need models, I don't need to travel...It is very freeing."
Murielle Banackissa is a Montreal based food photographer, food stylist, recipe developer, blogger and educator.
As far back as she can remember, Murielle was surrounded by food. Growing up in Africa, her mother and friends would regularly get together on weekends and share their special culinary creations around the dinner table. These gatherings always fascinated her: all those colours, textures, flavours were a feast for her 5 year old senses. Ever since those Sunday gatherings, her passion for food and cooking has never stopped growing.
Now, Murielle runs a successful blog filled some of the most stunning photos of recipes (which she created herself!) and has worked with major companies such as Activia, Lindt Excellence and Silk.
We were lucky enough to have the chance to speak with Murielle about all things travel, photography and the struggles of creating an upside down apple cake.
Check it out below!
You post quite a bit about traveling. What’s your best travel story?
I don't if I have one best travel story, but there is one feeling that I absolutely love about traveling and it is waking up in a completely different environment, looking outside and the excitement you get from knowing that you are on an adventure and that the day has so much in store for you. I love exploring by foot when traveling. Attractions are great but my favorite part is really just walking around neighborhoods and taking in the architecture, the nature, the people, or the art all around me.
What made you want to take photos of food?
It is honestly kind of a coincidence that I ended up a food photographer. I started taking photos of my food when it became cool to share about your meals on Instagram (around 2012ish). I had always been a foodie and loved creating recipes on the weekend so it was just natural that I shared some of my creations on Instagram. After I got my DSLR, I just started using it to take my photos instead of my phone then one thing led to the next and food photography became my career. What I love about food photography is that I am dependent on no one. I don't need models, I don't need to travel. I can just take photos in the comfort of my home in pjs, while listening to podcasts or music. It is very freeing.
How do you push yourself creatively with your photos?
I surround myself with inspiring people. Honestly, one of the things that has helped me push my creativity has really been to be part of a super supportive community on Instagram. Food photographers, bloggers, educators, all people who are using their creativity on the daily. Everytime I open Instagram, I have a wow moment. It is such an inspiring place and by seeing others shine and push their limits, it makes me want to do the same. It makes me want to try new things, to think outside of my comfort zone. I have to admit though some of my most creative ideas like this shot come to me in the middle of the night, in the shower or simply as a flash.
Where do you get inspiration for your recipes?
I am inspired by seasons, by time of the year, by other content creators and also a lot of my recipes come from me just wanting to eat something that is not really out there with the ingredients I have on hand. For example, these Layered Black Forest Overnight Oats. I am well aware that there are other recipes on the internet for this, but by browsing through them all, they felt a little too normal, they lacked that oumf factor. So I thought, how can I make a recipe that already exists better? Then I brainstorm, test the recipe, shoot it and it's all good to go!
Have you ever had to struggle to get a recipe just right? Tell us the story!
Oh yes!! There is this upside down apple cake. The one I posted about here. The first time I made this recipe (when I actually shot this image), it turned out SO well! It was moist, perfectly sweetened, not too dense and I was so excited about it! Like many baked goods, I like to test a recipe at least twice, because I recognize that there is more room for error. So I remade it and I must not have written down the measurements correctly because it came out GUMMY! It was honestly very hard to eat, but I don't like wasting food so my boyfriend and I ate it, slowly but surely. A few weeks later, I thought of retesting it again. Sadly, it was a fail. It was not as bad as the gummy version but it was still very far from the very first version. After this attempt (in March), I put the recipe aside and told myself I would get back to it in the fall when apples are in season. Fingers crossed the third time will be a charm.
How do you know when a recipe is ready to be shared on your blog?
When it tastes delicious and I would not change anything about it :) Or when it is gone within 24 hours!
What recipe are you most proud of?
I would say my Vegan Saka Saka. I really love that recipe because not only is it incredibly tasty, it is also connected to my roots. I grew up eating it and being able to veganize it and share it with the world has been really amazing.
You talk a lot about your mother on your blog and instagram. How has she impacted you?
Where do I even begin! She has impacted me on so many levels. She is by far the strongest woman I know. She has always supported me in all I do. She is incredibly open and willing to listen. I have gone through some tough moments growing up and honestly, if it was not for my mom, I don't know who I would be today. Also, on a funny and cute note, she is the best grocery shopper I know! She knows ALL the deals and was able to feed a family of 4 for $100 per week of groceries (and we were not eating ramen noodles haha!). If you would like to learn more about my origin story, you can take a listen to a podcast interview I did on the Storied Recipe Podcast.
You have a free ebook available! What can readers expect to learn from it?
When I created this ebook, I really wanted it to be a resource that contained concrete actionable tips. I wanted to share tips that people could apply to any of their shoots. I also wanted to provide lots of examples. For me when I was starting my food photography journey, I remember reading things like ''use these composition tips to make your photos more visually appealing'' and although the simple words and the graphs showcased were helpful, it is only when I actually saw food photography images using those composition techniques that the concept made sense. So I wanted to do the same in this ebook.
How does it feel knowing and seeing people recreate your recipes?
It feels absolutely amazing! Honestly, for me there are a few things related to my job that bring me the most joy:
1) Seeing that someone made my recipe and then shared about it, letting me and others know how amazing it was.
2) People telling me how my photography tips and videos on YouTube have helped them.
3) Reading an email from a satisfied client.
4) Seeing my photos in print.
Where can we follow you?
Want to make your own plant-based recipes? Visit us in store or online to and pick up a carton of Oatly or Minor Figures milk! Or, support Leaves and pick up a bag of matcha or maca powder.