Mallory Elise

You know how hard it is to find cream in Brazil and that mint is blue (I still don’t get it haha)? All the little things about another country that I have no idea about. That’s why one of my dream, someday some time maybe in a different life, I would like to spend few years living in another country. But in the mean time I’ll just have to resort to reading other people’s experience in living in another country like Mallory Elise of The Salted Cod. Reading through her blog, I really got the sense of her who she really is. It’s just FUN to read her adventures in Brazil and the little things she has to overcome. And hey, she takes awesome food and landscape photos, what a bonus!

Mallory Elise

Q. What are you trying to capture when you take your food photos?
A. I try to capture more than it actually is, make it look better than it does in reality because after all it is food, and we come in contact with food every day of our lives since birth, so it has to become more than food. As a blogger, most of the items I photograph are things that I make myself, and they don’t always look like they just came out of Eric Ripert’s kitchen if you know what I mean. The challenge is making an ugly good-for-nothing muffin look like something extraordinary, and that’s what I thrive on. I’m young, not the richest individual and am living in a third world country. I can’t rely on the myriad props that most pastry studio photographers rely on, so my number one props are the food itself and the light.

Q. So you’ve been blogging for over 3years now, have you seen any changes to your style of writing or photographing food? Is the 2007 you the same as the 2010 you?
A. Completely. If you go back in my blog to 2007 and even 2008 while I lived in Europe you’ll notice that the photography is horrifying. Dark, out of focused, ill-composed, weak color and off-balanced whites. I tell my friends and family all the time that if there is any proof of the concept that you can only get better at something with time and repetition then it is definitely a photography blog. It’s a time capsule, I can go back to June 2007 and see one of my first “posed” food photographs I set up in my parents’ kitchen and remember how proud I was of it at the time. Now I scrunch my face when I see it and wonder what could have been in my mind at the time to think it was good enough for publishing on a blog. But it’s a reminder that I’m the one who made myself better. It’s a visible progression like a pencil-mark height chart scribbled on the wall in your parents’ closet. I was a horrible photographer when I started, but at the time all I knew was that I loved it.

Q. Also 3 years of blogging is pretty long. In internet years 3 years is like a decade. How has it been for you these 3 years?
A. That’s for damn sure. Both my blog life and real life have seemed more than a decade during these past three years. I started my blog just before moving to Europe in 2007. Europe gave me the perfect topic spread; there is a never ending amount of things to see, hear, do smell and eat when you’re outside of your familiarities and living alone. I stated traveling to other European countries specifically with blog stories in mind, I got such a thrill pressing “publish post” button on the blogger template that I would start writing the script in my head as I photographed. I had to slow down a little when I went back the the U.S. in order to graduate college which was extremely difficult because I felt I had returned to my own home as a stranger, and I was. So in three years: France and Europe, graduated from college and moved to Brazil. Oh I forgot to tell you, during the three years I met a Brazilian, married him, moved to Brazil and am trying to learn Portuguese and start a photography career. Three years!

Q. Does a place influence your writing/photography style because you went from Seattle to France and back to Seattle and now Brazil?
A. I don’t think my style changes because of the location but rather is forced to adapt. The daylight differences between Seattle and Brazil let me tell you…but I think it’s also a matter of mood, maturity and progress. Each location in progression I became a better photographer in. I’m a better photographer now in Brazil because for one I have three years more experience than I did while I was living in France, and two I have my blog editor living as close to me as possible. I met my husband about three months after I started the blog. He was honestly one of my first constant readers and for some unknown reason loved everything I put up there. After a while he became known on the blog as the “editor” because as a Brazilian who speaks English better than most Americans speak it, he was never shy to point out every single little tiny grammar mistake I made. He was my number one encouragement and helped me realize that if this is really what I love to do then there is no shame in it and that I didn’t have to prove anything about myself to the world. He made me realize that plans change with a finger snap. Anything is possible, even for someone with the most planned out life.

Q. During these 3 years of blogging, any surprises happened in your life because of your blog?
A. Wanting to photograph, write and publish is the biggest surprise in my life. I thought I would be an academic. My blog put the love for publishing in my fingers; after I got back to Seattle I started photographing for my university’s newspaper, became an editor of a campus academic journal, and the most surprising of all called a food and wine magazine asking for a job begging them to look at my blog. They did, and I was hired as an editorial assistant. Go blog. Another surprise is the fact that I’m actually still doing it and that I have no intention to stop. I’ve been through a lot of phases and I know most of my friends and family didn’t expect this one to last. Guess it’s not a phase then.

Q. What is your plan for the rest of the year and how do you think it will feel to celebrate Christmas in summer time?

A. The plan is to learn Portuguese, I’m really quite slow at it for the moment. In the meantime I continue freelance writing with American publications to help pay our bills, and eventually plan on working with photography and publishing here in Brazil. For now I’m working on building up my contacts. But who knows. Anything can change in a moment.

Christmas in the summer, well, it will be odd as I am from Seattle and come from a family with very strong Christmas traditions. December is one of the hottest months in Brazil, so what I hear is that we’ll probably go to the beach with my now 100+ Brazilian family, have a barbecue and drink lots of caipirinhas. Sounds like a good Christmas to me. But I think I’ll decorate a little tree nonetheless.

All photos courtesy of Mallory Elise of The Salty Cod
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