Kareem Abdelrahman: The 18 Year Old Self Taught Food Photographer Who Started His Career in High School

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Kareem Abdelrahman, whose mouth watering pictures of food always put us in a hunger state of mind. Abdelrahman, a recent high school graduate has only started cooking 3 years ago and  started food photography 2 years ago. Abdelrahman’s talent gave him the opportunity to work and style food for top brands like Gourmet; all their Ramadan pictures were photographed and styled by him. His pictures of his own cooked food are definitely not to be missed. We talked with Abdelrahman recently to know more about his passion that he will soon turn into a career by joining the culinary school abroad for his college degree.

My recipe and photography for Gourmet Egypt! Check my Asian inspired tuna recipe below 🐟👇 #Repost @gourmetegypt with @repostapp ・・・ What’s for lunch today? Sesame-Crusted Tuna with Charred Spring Onions, and an Asian Dressing Recipe by @kareemabdo99 Ingredients For the Dressing: 1 clove garlic Fresh ginger, 2cm knob 1 stick lemongrass ½ bird’s eye chili ½ tsp salt 1 tbsp olive oil 1 tbsp soy sauce 1 tsp sesame oil ½ lime, juiced For the Sesame-crusted tuna: 300g fillet of tuna Sea salt and black pepper 6x spring onions 5 tbsp sesame seeds, untoasted Sliced spring onion, chilies, and coriander, for garnish Method: 1. In a pestle and mortar, add the garlic, ginger, lemongrass, chili, and salt. Crush them until they resemble a paste. Add olive oil, soy sauce, lime juice, and sesame oil and mix well. Set aside. 2. Add the sesame seeds to a tray. Season the tuna with salt and pepper. Add the tuna to the sesame, turning it over until it’s nicely coated. 3. Heat a skillet to high heat and add a tablespoon of oil. Let it heat until the oil is lightly shimmering. 4. Add the tuna, and cook for a minute each side until the sesame seeds are nicely toasted, and the tuna is still rare on the inside. Let the tuna rest. Add the spring onions to the same pan and let it cook till it chars and turns soft. Set aside. 5. Slice the tuna into strips and plate alongside spring onion. Spoon the dressing on top, and garnish with fresh green onions, thinly sliced chili, and fresh coriander.

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1- How did you discover your passion for food and photography? I always get asked this question, but I never really knew what to say. Basically, in the past few years, cooking has been an integral part of my life. It all started with watching cooking programs, I just felt a certain connection with food. For me, the magic of cooking lies in the fact that you’re simply starting with some raw ingredients and with some correct kitchen techniques, you end up with a lovely home-cooked meal. This is what really got me into food and cooking. By then, my life had taken a completely new direction. All my time was dedicated to watching and reading about cooking to develop its basics. I started cooking simple dishes, but they were always a hit. In all my free time, I would find myself either experimenting in the kitchen or reading about new techniques. From simple meals that I used to create, to serving 5 course dinner parties to my friends and family, I only got better at it. As for photography, I always felt that I need to represent my food well, and good photographs for them were definitely the way to go. This is what made me start food photography. As much as I am developing in the kitchen, I am developing behind the camera.

Panko-Crusted Fried Chicken Tacos with chipotle aioli, fresh corn and coriander 🌮🌽#tacotuesday

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2- Your Beginners guide to food photography

  • The most important aspect when it comes to food photography, or photography in general, is light. All what a camera does, being it the most expensive DSLR or your Iphone, is capture the light in the scene. The quality of your light is the single biggest factor in how your food photos turn out. Food loves natural light, so if you’ve got a big window in your house, you should shoot just beside it when it’s daylight.
  • Never use the in-built flash in your camera, it will give a harsh directional light that will render your food flat and will look terrible. You should also avoid shooting in direct sunlight, as this can cause the same harsh shadows that an in-built camera flash can.
  • Use a tripod if possible, it will give you stability making your photos look sharper than if shot handheld.
  • Of course, make your food look great. A little styling and a few nice props will make the food shine and will render a better photo.
  • Shoot on a nice background. Food loves wood, if you’ve got some old wood planks, you could easily turn them into a food photography background. You will be amazed at how the textures in wood make a remarkable food photo.
  • Adding a human element to a food photo always make it interesting. For example, a shot while someone is pouring a sauce over a dish.
  • A little post-processing or editing for your photos is necessary. It can easily make the colors pop, and make your photos significantly better.
  • Finally, be inspired. Look up some food photos for what you are cooking and get inspired by them.

3- Your favorite documentary My favorite documentary series is Netflix’s Chef’s Table. It shows an insider’s look behind the kitchen doors of the world’s greatest chefs. It really inspires me to be creative and to truly appreciate what a chef does and goes through in order to serve a customer an unforgettable meal.

4- Your favorite Camera to be used for beginners and for advanced photographers I can’t really recommend a specific camera to be used for food photography; any modern DSLR, especially if it has a full frame sensor would do the trick. More importantly than the camera itself, is the lens that you are using. Having a good macro lens would let you get these incredible close-up shots on food and show the most beautiful of details. Another lens I would really recommend is a prime 50mm lens, it is usually very affordable. When you shoot wide open with it (meaning at the largest aperture the lens could go to), you’ll be able to have the background nice and blurry, whilst your subject or the food perfectly in focus.

5- Your favorite YouTube channel My favorite YouTube channel is Jamie Oliver’s Food Tube. I just love how natural it is. It always showcases lovely authentic recipes that are foolproof. Jamie’s Food Tube constantly inspires me to go to the kitchen and cook up something.

6- Your Favorite Editing app My favorite editing software is Adobe Lightroom.

7- Your favorite phone app  My favorite phone app is Hipstamatic. Hipstamatic is a photography app that uses the phone’s camera in creating vintage looking photos. It will make you believe that the photo came straight from the analog and film photography era. It’s always really helpful in capturing instant moments while not having your camera with you.

Nada is a writer, a journalist and an academic. She earned her Masters degree in Digital Journalism from the American University in Cairo and currently finishing her second MA degree in Mass Communication. Nada developed her interest in fitness and nutrition through her own personal journey of changing her own lifestyle and since then she became a wellness enthusiast. She loves fashion, travel, yoga and anything that will help her explore her own true identity and develop it more.

1 Comment

  1. Wow!!!! This is one impressive young man! I mean one either excels at cooking or at styling/photographing, but to excel in both and at such a young age?! Brave Kareem Abdelrahman! I will be looking out for your work!

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