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Hustles + Hobbies: Food Photographer and Blogger @Hebssweetly

by in Culture & Lifestyle on 18th August, 2022

food on a plate

We’ve spoken to Esra Alhamal about the art of Islamic illumination, Azeezat Adeola about mindfulness in knitting and how to get started and knitting for social issues, Neda about pole fitness, body confidence and online trolls, Chaimaa Creates about baking and cake design, Katie Haseeb about illustrating and fine arts, Brooke Benoit about jewellery design, Firdaws Clotaire about ceramics and pottery-making, and Zainab Alema about her journey to becoming a professional rugby player and encouraging more Muslim women to get involved in sports.

Last month we spoke to Womb Healer Shakira Sabira

If you would like to interview a Muslim woman about her hobby/hustle, get in touch:

Where can we find your work?

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A post shared by hebssweetly (@hebssweetly)

What do you call yourself in relation to your hobby?

I feel like I would call myself a food photographer and family food blogger. I love styling and taking photos of food. I also have a passion for family cooking and baking. More so family cooking/baking with a healthier twist.

How did you get into this hobby?

My father passed away of heart disease when my first son was born. It was a major shock to us all and this is really what started my journey of being aware of what I eat. It can be hereditary, so I started to become more careful about our food decisions.

It started off pretty basic, at the start we cut out refined sugar. Then it went on to cutting out vegetable and seed oils, this was something very difficult for my mum to do. That big bottle of sunflower oil was hard to let go of! Slowly, slowly I starting looking at the benefits of organic fruits & vegetables and started consuming those more often.

I then started my IG and wanted to show other mothers it’s not that scary or boring to feed our kids healthy foods and refined sugar free snacks. This then went on to my finding my absolute love for food photography!

Since then it has a been journey of just really wanting my family and I to eat as best as we can. The internet has it all, so many resources to learn about food. It is much easier now to find out more information about the impact of the food we consume. There are so many ways in which different food groups can help us to thrive.

Saying that I also really believe in moderation. I have my cake and eat it too!

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What is your favorite thing about it?

I love being able to be pretty decent at food photography and cooking/baking side of things. Gives me the ability to be creative and I love that. I wear all the hats! 

What is the most challenging thing about it?

Okay so my favourite thing is also the most challenging thing, doing it all. Making recipes, styling, photographing, videography and editing. It’s a lot and sometimes I just want to make a video in 10 mins and not 3 hours. But the end result always makes me proud and is always worth it!

How do you stay motivated?

My kids. I know it’s sounds cliché but they really are. I want my children to be knowledgeable about food and where it comes from and the impact it has on our lives. I take them to farmers market with me each Sunday and get them to help me prepare our meals so they are involved and have a greater understanding of healthy meals.

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A post shared by hebssweetly (@hebssweetly)

What is the work that you are most proud of, and why?

So it is not a piece of photography or an amazing recipe. It’s simple the fact that my boys eat as well as they do! It took me 4 long years to get them to eat veggies like they do. If anyone followed me from the start of my IG page they would tell you, I used to show people on my IG stories how to blend every vegetable under the sun to make a healthy pasta sauce! Now I can add those once blended veggies on their plates in whole form. Something I thought I’d never see!

I even started adding small amounts of salad on the side of their dishes recently AND this is a big accomplishment for me, haha!

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A post shared by hebssweetly (@hebssweetly)

Between your hobby and work, family, personal errands etc. how do you organise your time and make sure that you’re staying on top of everything?

I’m definitely not staying on top of everything! I wish I was. Up until recently I used to really beat myself up for not being able to get it all done. Now I just think…Hebaq, did you eat lunch today?

If I ate lunch then the day is going well. I have the ability to get things done and be in a good mood if I have had lunch. No lunch means, being sluggish all-day, snacking on cake and by 5pm I’m snappy and ready for the day to be done!

So yeah my main advice is – eat lunch. In fact if making lunch daily is hard for you then meal prep your lunch. There’s nothing more organized then a prepped lunch. It’s gets you set for the day and ready to go.

Who are your biggest inspirations/who are the people making waves in this field?

I really love what Deliciously Ella has done. The ability to transform her wellness journey from a blog with weekly recipes into restaurants, books and products all over the UK really inspires me.

In terms of food photography I really admire and love Kimberly from @thelittleplantation and Sukaina Rajabali from @learn.phood. They are both ladies who picked up a camera with no real plans other than to take beautiful photos of food. Fast forward to now they are both successful food photographers in their own rights.

They are continuously working with big name brands, with their photography on billboards, restaurants, cafes, websites and blogs. They both also now teachers in food photography and have food photography courses that help people like me too. I could only dream I’m able to reach that type accomplishment.

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A post shared by hebssweetly (@hebssweetly)

What would be your advice for someone that wants to get into food blogging and photography?

I would say just find your niche, find what you love to do and go for it. Don’t keep waiting until you are really confident or really good at what you are doing. If it’s the food photography side of things practice every day. You don’t need the best cameras, I started with a 8 year old second hand camera my sister let me borrow from her work!

If it is recipes and content creation then just keep testing recipes whenever you have a moment. Something I wish I did is always write down the recipe! Even the off the cuff random cookie you are making 11pm at night, write it down. The recipes you don’t write down often end up being the REALLY good ones!

Selina Bakkar

Selina Bakkar

I'm a simply striving to be better and improve in different areas of my life through more self awareness, experiences and learning more about the deen. You'll find me talking about community, connection, planting & growing, seeking the truth in an age of propaganda and misinformation. This year I want to document more to do with food heritage and history so watch this space or reach out. Have a listen to the Amaliah Voices podcast where I talk passionately about Islam, nature, motherhooding and back home. Link in bio peeps. To join the Amaliah Writer Community email me at IG: SelinaBakkar